Crater lakes, coffee, and the Lio method

Crater lakes, coffee, and the Lio method

Kelimutu is more than just its famous lake craters. Explore the area by RMC Detusoko and immerse yourself in the rich agricultural past of Flores the highlands of Ende-Lio, and its significance in the development of the modern Indonesia.


“The house is the mother of us all. The mother is a respected place in our society,” says Aloysius Lela, an Wologai village leader, as he leads me his ancestral home within the community.

The village is known for its traditional houses with distinctive thatched roofs, the village of Wologai is among the oldest Lio villages located in Flores’ Ende-Lio highlands. Lio people claim to descend from one father and one mother who came from Mount Lepembusu, and the Lio traditional home is a reflection of the “one mother” narrative.

Although they are primarily Catholic However, a large portion of the Lio people’s daily lives is still guided by traditions pre-Christian. Therefore, ceremonies like agricultural celebrations offering prayers to ancestral spirits along with the traditional Kelimutu celebration to honor ancestral ancestors are commonplace.

A welcome to the traditional Lio house is a reverent, intimate act. The porch that guests walk through symbolizes the mother’s hands open and heart, according to Aloysius.

The entrance has the carving of two female breasts that guests are asked to kiss with reverence as they enter. The inside of the house is a symbol of the mother’s womb as well as an interrelation of brothers.

The way they look is striking the houses of Wologai are copies of the original Fires are a regular occurrence and Aloysius has been through four Wologai fires during his lifetime. The most recent one, in 2012 lasted only 15 minutes to destroy each and every dwelling within the village.

“Despite these hardships we do not run away. We are here to guard the mother of our children,” says Aloysius.

It is this feeling of pride and protection over Lio tradition which Ferdinandus “Nando” Watu seeks to protect and give to the world via RMC Detusoko.


RMC Detusoko is a collective established by Nandoand a group of young Lio farmers from the Detusoko district, which includes Wologai and Detusoko Barat Nando’s village.

Intensely rooted in their spiritual and agricultural practices, yet aware of the necessity to tap the economic potential outside of their homes, RMC develops the capacity of farmers in the area to venture into food and hospitality production. It is a field that goes outside traditional agriculture however, they are within reach provided the right support.

In the year 2017, RMC founded Decotourism to manage the travel business of RMC and take advantage of Lio’s Lio villages’ closeness with one Ende Regency’s most popular destinations: Mount Kelimutu and its famous tri-colored lakes.

With Decotourism you can experience not only the beauty of the lakes however, you also experience the various ways that young Lio farmers reinterpret the Kelimutu spirit.

Often regarded as the final resting place for Lio ancestral ancestors, Kelimutu was once restricted to be an official Lio site of prayer. The 1930s were when the exiled Sukarno (also called Soekarno) -later to become the first Indonesian president would visit the Kelimutu area to contemplate. While in exile in Ende, Sukarno became influenced by the Lio philosophy that he used to formulate his idea of a decolonized and multi-cultural republic.

“Our Lio identity can be summed up as lika, ine and one: we are a people of one hearth, one mother and one house.”

Nando Watu,founder, RMC Detusoko

Our trip started at 4am, and we were wearing layers to fight from the cold as we headed out on an evening drive to our walk at sunrise in Kelimutu. About halfway through, our vehicle stops. Nando is out smoking a cigarette, and a dish consisting of areca nuts, betel peppers, and crushed limestone.

The three lakes of Kelimutu’s Kraters are famous for their changing colours, which could be because of chemical reactions that occur between the volcanic gases and minerals. Locals believe that changes in the colors of the lakes indicate some omens and each lake is ascribed to distinct spirits: those of the young who passed away or those who passed away in old age, or who utilized supernatural powers to do the purpose of doing harm while they were alive.

These spiritual landscapes form the basis of RMC’s work using the philosophical foundations and beliefs of Lio identity to create opportunities that are relevant to the current world.


A journalist from the past, Nando had long been fascinated by tourism in the Ende highlands’ potential for tourism. The year 2014 was the time he received the chance to attend an ecotourism management course within the United States.

When he returned to his home country, he was guide for tourism-focused community as well as solid waste management initiatives within areas of the Ende highlands. The most notable of these projects is Waturaka Village, which received an award from the National Council in 2017 for the best rural Ecotourism within Indonesia.

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