Our first morning in Merabu Village was quite freezing, the roosters served as our natural alarm and woke us up. The villagers were busy with their daily work, like feeding the dogs and cows, besides that some motorcycles were heated up ready for their courses. Our breakfast was hosted by Chris, YKAN Community Relationship for Merabu Village and Kei Yusan. Former lead of the Village made use Indonesian Fried Rice and Sweet Tea to get us ready for our long journey to Beloyot Cave.
It took us nearly 2 hours by foot to get to Beloyot Cave. It is acclaimed to be a World Heritage Site as you can find some historical cave painting in the form of a palm of the hand.
During our tracking trip to Beloyot Cave, Andang shared some stories where he took documentary job called “Rockumentary” a rock music documentary where Indonesian rock talents flew to Woodstock Poland by himself. He carried heavy equipment up to 40 pounds just by himself. During this trip to Beloyot Cave, he told us that he carried 30 pound of photography by himself and that his team members could not offer a hand to help for some unknown reason. We just cannot wait how he captured the beauty of Merabu Village and its touristy sites.
Besides all of this, Bayu from Survive Garage told us a bit about himself, how he discontinued his bachelor in teaching and went straight to Instusi Seni Indonesia in Jogja to pursue his passion in Art. This man is filled with tattoos, but one significant thing he adores the most is what is shown on this left hand, where he went to Timor Leste, it is an illustration about the villagers dancing, to welcome the harvest season.
We finally arrived at Beloyot Cave Cultural Preservation Area 2 hours later, but it was only the tip of the area, so we still had a long way to go. Chris told us that from here the trip would be very challenging! And boy! He was right!
We went into the cave, it was really dark and ice cold, no natural lighting whatsoever, we were depending on the flashlights from our smartphones. As we walked in, we lowered our head so our head could pass the low ceiling. It made us very cautious when the bats were flying near us. The excitement doesn’t stop there, we had to crawl into a small hole and later on we had to climb a very slippery ladder.
Our jaws dropped when we saw the majestic Beloyot Cave and its historical cave drawing, a key to open a door thousands of thousands years ago, telling a story about our ancestors journey. A fun fact, according to the scientists, Beloyot Cave is not actually a cave to live in, it is used to be a place to stay over for a couple of months before they finally move on to a more secure land. You can see hand shaped drawing on the ceiling, animal shaped pictures and patterns. It made us wondering, how come thousands of thousands years ago they can be so advanced and leave us drawings which we still can be excited about.
As the sun almost about to set, it was time for us to head back. The route did not changed, it was accompanied by the heavy rain, therefore it made us even more excited, to hear, to see, and to feel raindrops falling from each leaves.
We closed the night with scrumptious dinner prepared by elderly ladies from the village and an informal gathering talking about Merabu in general about their hopes and dreams for the village.
One inspiring figure found during our dinner was Mr. Asrani, former village chief for 2 consecutive periods (13 years), he mostly changed the culture of Merabu Village all by himself to the one we see today. At the age of 21, he was elected by the fellow villagers to lead them ( 1997-2010 ), he was young, vocal, and eager to shape the village one step ahead. He battled the illegal swallow nest poaching from big corporations until one day it got himself locked up behind the solid bars. He battled alcoholism and gambled, where alcohol was easy to find and to buy with no age limitation and gamble happened days and night, which at one point made the chaotic scene when the youngsters were drunk or lost the gamble. He is the type of person that the villagers highly look up to and where his legacies still carries on till this day.
And for our third day itineraries, we loved every bit about all of Chris’s plans for tomorrow, a quick hint: blue colored lake and jaw-dropping scenery from the top.