In a world that sees little growth, Sumba is a unique opportunity. With Sumba’s natural vocation for tourism, you need to visit the island to understand the beauty of the majestic coast line, white sandy beaches, green hill sides facing the ocean, rivers and forests, one hour plane from Denpasar, Bali. I have been travelling throughout Sumba for the last 6 years and I still keep finding hidden corners of paradise.Sumba has become the natural extension of Bali, since many Balinese are fed up with pollution, traffic and construction sites.
Many Balinese have been investing in Sumba real estate, after selling their land at high prices in Bali and purchasing land in Sumba making it a very affordable exercise and the quality of life is better. The reason why Sumba Island is a real investment is given by the fact that not a lot of infrastructure is in place at the moment and we have a white board opportunity to develop Sumba with an eco respect. Protect this untouched system is a must: green energy, water treatment, waist recycling, plastic free island. We are already working to bring the Green culture in the offices of the Sumbanese officials and we need to attract like minded investors who believe in an eco environment.
A planned road construction system is in place, along with Public transportation to connect places and people in the remotest areas, until now these areas and people have been almost impossible to be seen or reached. In the years 2010-2011 the local community and land owners said no to the mining industry, because for them the water is more important then anything else and the rich mining areas are all around water sources and rivers. This was a wise answer to the outside world: Sumba is not for sale. Yes we want to develop but our priority is the respect of the nature.
Water is more precious than gold and the gold can sit there in the belly of our lands. Only 3 years ago you couldn't eat an ice cream in Sumba neither drink a cold beer. Today you can also have a decent pizza couple hundred metersaway from the airport. No more frustration for not being able to have western style food; If you mix this with the possibility to go to an almost deserted beach and ask the local people to catch a fish for you, they will be more then happy and grill it for you with some Ubi (sweet potatoes) and drink coconut water out of the tree. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do this, it is a truly amazing experience. Travelling around Sumba is not an easy task, especially if you wanted to stay overnight in remote areas. Even so, if you have your own gear you can stay overnight almost anywhere by following simple rules.
Ask anybody where is the house of the chief of the village DESA and seek for hospitality; carry with you a mosquito net and an air bed; bring always with you drinking water and canned food to mix with 'nasiputih' (white rice) made in any Indonesian house. The quality of the rice that you will eat in the country side of Sumba is many times better then the one you usually buy in the super market. Almost everywhere there is a rice field grown for family consumption. I love "padi gogo" a quality of rice that grows with little or no water that tastes really good. My ideas of how to approach Sumba life is a pacific colonization of the island and buy a property in Sumba.
The word colonization could sound like a wrong word, but all I mean by this is to help the direction of the island and the islanders, so they can grow in the right way and with the knowledge and support protect the island, but also allow others to enjoy this jewel in the Indonesian crown. We need places like Sumba ; untouched natural paradise where we can build a future for us and our kids following the rules of nature. Sumba is there for everybody to bring their own life experience and knowledge. “Let’s do it right together”, my passion for Sumba and what it has to offer inspires me to ensure that Sumba will be a unique place for all visitors.
It will take a while before things will take shape , but it is a great challenge to be part of this process of growth. Come to Sumba and see with your own eyes what is here. Don't be a tourist, don't be a hard judge for what is not in place; just be an actor and interpreter with an important role to cover in this life story.
Antonio Casella ( JAPA LOKA)