I also considered naming this post “how I developed a phobia of water buffalos.”
Anyways, the point is – Toraja is a weird and wonderful place. Seriously weird. But it’s super beautiful and the people are amazingly nice, so we’ll go with wonderful as well just weird. Torajan lifestyle seems to be based around the nexus between baffalos and funerals. Fascinating stuff. The answer to almost every question we had was something to do with buffalos, except when I asked why houses are shaped the way they are. The answer to that one is that they’re boat-shaped. Naturally. Why wouldn’t people living super high in the mountains live in boat-shaped houses?
Torajan funerals are amazing. We definitely crashed one, which seems to be a fairly acceptable thing to do, as long as you bring along a gift of cigarettes and sugar. I’m dead serious. Not making up ANY of this. The part of the funeral we went to included being fed lots of cookies and syrupy sweet coffee and tea and watching buffalos and pigs being slaughtered. Of course I got right in as close as possible, which was a lot closer to buffalo slaughtering than should be allowed. I was charged by a mortally wounded buffalo – twice. Now they just freak me out in general, even if they are the world’s second most mellow animal (next to sloths, of course). If you care for a better explanation of their funerals, go ahead and wiki it. I have no intention of explaining the whole process, and not being able to do it justice.
Their burials are equally as serious. We went and saw a whole bunch of burial sites too, some of which involved some serious Indian Jones action in caves full of skeletons, or hollowing out boulders to use as tombs. Amazing.
Now for the important disclaimer – if you find any of the following things offensive, just leave this page now, or don’t say I didn’t warn you: Death, Animal Sacrifices, Blood, Guts, Buffalos.
But if you’re awesome and can handle a little bit of blood, go ahead and enjoy the photos.