There was a full day of events planned (and no rest). First up was a stroll through the expo tents where villages from Buton Island were represented, along with a large area where women were weaving cloth and baskets. Inside the large main tent were preparations for the day’s festivities – the dole-dole and the sharing of food.
Dole-dole involved 2,000 mothers and children under age 5 for a ritualistic healing. Apparently many years ago one of the Sultan’s children took ill and a healer was summoned. Her curative massage and herbs worked so he made the treatment available to everyone with a sickly child. We anticipated bedlam with screaming babies but in fact what we saw were beautifully dressed mothers patiently sitting on their square of fabric with an elaborately costumed child and no unruly screaming or crying. Well maybe with one or two exceptions who were being rocked over piles of herbs or coconut shells rattled over their heads.
The morning morphed into early afternoon and the mothers and babies somehow transitioned into our next event, the eating. Women, again exquisitely dressed and coiffed, prepared enormous trays of food with elaborate covers. They, too, sat patiently under blue tarps for dignitaries, locals, and us, to sit in front of them, one-on-one, and begin eating off the trays. The beautifully-clad women fed us anything we wanted from the tray. The men were literally hand fed by the young women. Since we each had our own guide for interpretation, I was able to avoid the fish/chicken things. The afternoon wore on and on. We also had plenty of time to wander around the expo and sit and listen to our stomachs churn with mystery foods.