By: Rev. Fr. Dr. Konrad Kebung Beoang, SVD
(June 25, 2007)

1. Eputobi is a relatively new village, administratively established in 1935, after long periods of moving around in small groups with different group-locations. People used to live nomadically in small groups located in different areas (riang and lewo as called in local dialect) close to each other with different interests. As the people moved along into modern era with its developments, our ancestors then grouped themselves in certain villages called Eputobi (Lewowerang) and Riangduli (Lewolein), which are presently known as Lewoingu. The inscription on the wall right on the entrance of the village, DUNG BATA LEWOINGU SARABITI WAIHALI, is culturally and historically meaningful and very much esteemed. It is truly meaningful at least for the people of Lewoingu.

2. Location: Eputobi is located in East Flores, between Maumere and Larantuka ( about 30 km west of Larantuka and 117 km east of Maumere). It is right on the main road. There are two roads going into and out of the village--east and south-west direction. This village can also be nicknamed the stony village as it is rounded by stones and rocks.

3. How to get there: By air: from outside of Flores (Jawa, Bali and other islands) you have to come via Kupang on the island of Timor, Waingapu in Sumba, and Denpasar in Bali). There is a small airport in Watowiti (10 km east of Larantuka) and there is a flight connection with Kupang three times a week. There is also a larger airport in Maumere with flight connections with many cities and towns in the country. The Fokker 28 and 100 (jet airlines) of different airlines, such us Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Pelita Air, and others can land there. By bus: From Maumere there are lots of buses running to Larantuka, day and evening, and you just get off in Eputobi. Just ask the driver or other passengers, and they will help you. The buses cost around Rp. 30.000 (=US$ 3 or 2,5 Euros). From Larantuka, you may either take different buses that run day and night to Maumere, or you may also take some mini-buses that serve the villages around Larantuka. There are mini-buses running to Boru (the capital of Wulanggitang County) or some just stop in Eputobi or Lewolaga, the village adjacent to Eputobi. They cost about Rp.10.000 (=US$1 or 0,8 Euros). Be careful, you might be teased with higher cost. By ship: you may either get off or get in at Sadangbui harbour in Maumere which has different connections with Sulawesi, Jawa and all islands around Flores, or Larantuka. There are many small harbours around yet there are hardly any ships or motorboats coming there, with the exception if you could charter any of the boats or ships.

4. People and inhabitants: Eputobi has more or less 1000 people, consisting of
about 200 families, and almost all of them are christian catholics with the exception of one Moslem family. People are culturally very friendly, particularly to foreigners and they are always curious to get to know you and happy to help you. They will host you nicely and may find anything you need. People like their guests to be satisfied and are always willing to make them happy and feeling convenient. People feel bad when their guests are not satisfied and feeling inconvenient. So do not hesitate to communicate with them and be sure they will not hesitate to greet or to ask you any question they might have. They will follow you around and ask you anything, and so don't be upset. The colour difference is something they are always interested in. Don't feel despised of that. They do not have anything bad about you.

5. Climate and weather: Generally speaking we have two seasons, namely rainy and dry season. Roughly speaking the rainy season runs from December to April and dry season from May to November. During rainy season we have a lot of rain (wet) and during dry season it is very dry and hot. However, it is slightly different from place to place. In Flores, when you travel around rainy season, you are advised to always bring with you umbrella or rain jacket.

6. How people earn their living: Most of the inhabitants are peasants, growing corn, rice, bananas, cacaos, coffees, coconut, and all kinds of tropical fruit. These are the ways they earn money for the living. The cost of all these commodities are very cheap if you buy right on the spot. Due to this situation, most of our people like migrating to some other parts of the vast Indonesian archipelago or even to Malaysia to find some better jobs and better income. You will find that almost every family has some one or two members working outside of the village.

7. Where to stay: In such a village there are no homestays, holiday inns, or even hotels and restaurants as well. However, people always like to have you in their homes, to host you in their places. Eat what they serve. Usually guests are well-treated and have unusual meal. It is shameful when they know that their guests do not have enough food or starve. People usually eat corn, rice, fish, different vegetables and fruit.

8. Travelling around the village: If you go east, you will reach several villages until you get to Larantuka, the capital town of East Flores Regency. If you head west, you will reach Lewolaga (the parish center) and further down to Hokeng, Maumere, etc. If you go north you will travel through green areas. There are two main different roads leading to two different villages, namely Leworook and Tuakepa. There are some mini-buses running to these villages. However you may also hire 'ojek' (man with motorcycle) which costs about Rp. 5000 (0,6US dollar or 0,4 Euros). The weather there is certainly cooler or even colder. There people grow coffees, cacaos, bananas, sweet potatoes, etc. If you head south you will be amazed at the beautiful view of the isle Konga and the beautiful twin Lewotobi volcanoes (they call male and female volcano). In the uninhabited Konga there is a pearl-breeding center run by a Japanese company. From a distance you will also enjoy the beauty of Solor island lying quietly on the surface of Sawu sea.

9. Language: All people can speak bahasa Indonesia as the national language which is spoken throughout the country. Besides, people also use their own venacular or dialect which is known as lamaholot. The same dialect is also used throughout East Flores Regency and most of the people in Lembata Regency. Very few people can undertand English for the students learn English in junior and senior high school. In some senior high schools students learn German. So do not hesitate to speak English as some may be able to communicate with you. People would be glad if you can say a few Indonesian words.

10.Education: Most of the village's young people used to be satisfied enough if they reach junior or senior high school. Very few reach the academic level of BA, Master, etc. School or formal education in general was promoted by catholic missionaries (mainly from Holland and Germany) and it reached its peak in 1958 when the first catholic elementary school was established in Eputobi, which was especially supported by the late Rev. Theodorus Rozing, SVD, a Dutch missionary who himself was the pastor at the time. Due to the developments in all areas of life, the awareness of education has been increasing ever since.

11.What is in a Name: The word Eputobi consists of two words, namely "epu" and "tobi". "Epu" means a place where people gather for some formal or informal meetings while drinking or discussing something. Usually it is located around their gardens or where they take palm wine, etc. Epu is also believed to be a place of gathering of all kinds of spiritual entities, which usually come from Maumere (Sikka). They are only seen by certain people in the village. "Tobi" means tamarind. There are several tamarind trees that stand right at the heart of the village. By the name therefore Eputobi reveals something meaningful for local people. Under these tamarind trees people always hold ceremonies to welcome guests (seen and unseen) and to say farewell to all guests who are departing. The ceremonies are also made here when they think that the village is at risk of any dangers, calamities, and the like.