Ratenggaro Hamlet : Picturesque Megalithic Hamlet on the Seaside

South West Sumba which famous for its Pasola Battle Ritual, also has other fascinating tourist magnet, a hamlet where houses have distinct design, Ratenggaro Hamlet. This hamlet is administratively  located in Umbu Ngedo, Kodi Bangedo district which is approximately situated 56 kilometres  from Tambolaka, or about 1.5 to 2 hours drive.

Visiting Ratenggaro hamlet will take you centuries ago to the megalithic period where there were big stones tomb scattered throughout the hamlet. The hamlet name derives from Rate which means Tomb and Garo means Garo Tribe. The hamlet was sized from Garo tribe in the past when battle among tribes and villages was common. The defeated party were killed and buried on site. There are about 304 megalithic stones here and 3 of them are more unique in design. The stones are carved in raw mystical primitive engravings. The tombs resemble to tables that are unrestrictive even when the wind blows forcefully from the sea where the hamlet lies. The stone tombs of Ratenggaro villagers are smaller in size than that of kings and ancestors.

When we arrived at the hamlet, when were given betel leaves, nuts (pinang) and lime (kapur) to be chewed.  And yes, we gave it a go, we chewed it to respect the host. Chewing them produces large amount of saliva and definitely it is not something you want to swallow. Even the taste is bitter, it is a great way to interacts with locals of Ratenggaro. In local tradition, chewing betelnut is symbol of adulthood. Sirih leave represents male, pinang nut represents woman ovary and lime or kapur represents sperm. The lime will make red saliva in the mouth.  

The traditional house of Ratenggaro is called as Uma Kelada, and its roof towers as high as 15 meters. The height of the roof is based on the owner social status. They still preserve the indigenous belief from centuries ago, called Marapu, just like other hamlets and villages in Sumba Island.

Uma Kelada is stilts house consists of 4 storeys. The lowest storey is used for animals, the second is for the house owner and to store crops. The family heirlooms and weapons are stored above the kitchen. The top storey is where they place buffalo horns as symbol of dignity and honour. Ratenggaro house is similar to that of Flores Island, and Tana Toraja where the tribe stores pig’s jaw, buffalo’s horn as symbol that the house owner has conducted custom ritual.

We had the chance to try local menus for lunch. It was chicken menu of Kodi district in this hamlet. The free-range chicken was marinated with salt only and then grilled. It was served with salted coconut milk, corn rice and sambal ala Sumba, which is made from sliced chili, tomato, and basil.

The magnificent view of dramatic high thatched roof houses with blue sky and blue sea is just unparallel. We loved enjoying the sea breeze while riding Sumba horse along the coast.