Our guide, Arru, dumped us on another guide for our second day of touring Torajaland. This worked out perfectly fine for us because we clicked with our new guide, Amos, immediately. Amos was very knowledgeable, patient, and spoke great English. He and the driver picked us up at 9am and we headed to the buffalo market.
The market is very close to town and I’m sure you could explore it on your own, but it helps to have a guide point out the best black and white buffalo to spend your money on. Speaking of black and white buffalo, this is the first time I’ve seen these majestic beasts. We saw many a fine buffalo in Vietnam, but they were all a dull blackish-brown color. I know I’d pay an extra 50,000,000 Rp for a fine blue-eyed, black and white, beast of burden. The buffalo handlers were all standing around waiting for buyers and I was impressed by how caring they were with their beasts. They sprayed water on the gentle creatures to keep them cool and caressed their faces to ease their anxiety. I guess it makes sense to take good care of such valuable assets. We did our best to avoid the massive cow patties as we walked through the buffalo market towards the pig market.
Unlike the majority of Indonesia, the people of Torajaland are not Muslim so pork is a big part of their diet. You wouldn’t see this swine market in Java or Sumatra, or even in other parts of Sulawesi. There were squirming piglets in sacks and larger pigs hog-tied to bamboo gurneys. The more desirable specimens were allowed to strut their stuff in pens to show that they were in good health. It’s too bad that all of the pigs couldn’t just be put into pens rather than tied up. I’m no animal rights activist and I’d be the first person to steal a strip of crispy bacon from a baby, but I’m not keen on seeing the poor creatures strapped down unnecessarily. Then again, I bet their treatment here is immensely better than that of pigs at factory farms back in the States.
On the way out of the market we saw guys gathered around showing off their beautiful cocks. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about people selling roosters for fighting. Some tourists ask their guides to take them to cockfights where the roosters have razor blades attached to their talons so they can inflict lethal injuries on their opponents. We had no interest in seeing such a thing and I was happy to find out that our guide felt the same way about this barbaric form of entertainment. We continued to our car and headed up to see the monoliths.
We flew to Makassar for the sole purpose of immersing ourselves in death in Torajaland, where the indigenous ethnic group in the mountains of Sulawesi have a fascinating culture of celebrating their deceased. It’s doable on your own, but we hired a local guide because it’s really hard to learn anything otherwise. And learn we did.
I wish I remembered the name of the village our guide Arru hails from, but I have a crappy memory. Anyway, it’s a good representation of traditional Torajan homes. We walked through the short row of houses as Arru explained that homes always face north and rice barns face south. Buffalo horns are stacked high up the center of the front of these homes to signify how many buffalo were sacrificed during the funerals of their family members, which in turn shows off the wealth of these families. There are reasons for the placement of almost everything within these villages.