I’m writing this blog post in a smoky, crowded internet cafe near the Harau valley. I’m sitting on the floor because there are no chairs. The local crowd isn’t shy; they are snuggled up next to me watching me type, asking about my photos, asking if they can be my friend on facebook. For a long time they were talking to me and making it tough to concentrate on writing the blog, but I think they are getting a little bored now and only a couple are left watching.
Last Tuesday, the 14th, P and A and I set off in the morning to visit A’s village and see some of the countryside around Bukittinggi. Shortly after leaving the city (which I’ve just discovered has a lot more people than I thought – someone told me 115,000) we ran in to a pig hunt in the rice paddies. Apparently the wild pigs are a nuisance, not to mention unclean according to Muslims. So, they raise dogs in order to hunt the pigs. Dogs are an unusual sight in most of Indonesia because they are also considered unclean, but the people here make an exception in order to hunt the pigs. They seem to be attached to the dogs here as pets also, not just raising them as hunting animals.
The hunt was huge. I would say there were at least 50 people and dogs at the edge of the road for the hunt. Most of them were just lined up waiting; they would let four or five dogs loose at one time. The dogs ran way out into the rice paddies and even into the forest beyond. There are no guns, the dogs perform both the hunting and the killing. My impression was it was an afternoon of fun for the guys with dogs, just like hunting back home.
After stopping to photograph the pig hunt, we continued on along the roads near Bukittinggi.
The natives of this part of Sumatra are called the Minangkabao. Traditional houses look like this:
Minangkabao means ‘Victorious buffalo’ in the Minang language. The legend goes that the Minangkabao people once settled a territorial dispute by a fight between two buffalo. Their opponents fielded the biggest, meanest animal they could find, but the Minangkabao chose to compete with a starving baby buffalo with sharpened horns. The big buffalo was not threatened and didn’t try to fight the baby, but when the starving baby tried to nurse it stabbed the adult to death.
Most of the houses around here don’t have the Minangkabau look though, and I saw at least one with decoration of a different kind.
Also along the road to A’s village, we stopped at a cave.