Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TOUR DE TIMOR-LESTE,ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA.









AS DENI AT RENTLO CAR HIRE IN DILI TOSSED ME THE KEYS TO A MITSUBISHI 4 WHEEL DRIVE,I KNEW THE NEXT 10 DAYS WOULD LEAD ME ACROSS SOME OF THE MOST AMAZING "ROADS"IN EAST TIMOR,AND THE CHANCE TO MEET SOME INCREDIBLE PEOPLE AND COMMUNITYS.MY BATTERED MAP OF EAST TIMOR HAD ONLY JUST SURVIVED THE LAST VISIT,THIS TRIP HELD TOGETHER BY STICKY TAPE IT RARELY LEFT MY SIDE!DRY SEASON IN TIMOR(APRIL TO NOVEMBER) WOULD ALLOW ME TO REACH REMOTE AREAS,USUALLY OFF LIMITS WHEN THE RAINS COME,THE PLAN WAS TO REACH THE BORDER WITH WEST TIMOR,TREK ACROSS THE BIG MOUNTAINS THEN ADVANCE ONTO SUAI.AFTER A NIGHT IN THE FAMOUS TURISMO HOTEL,THE SUN ROSE ON A PERFECT TIMOR MORNING,THE HARBOUR REFLECTING A SHIMMERING LAZY CALM AS THE FIRST BIG CONTAINER SHIPS EDGED THEIR WAY TOWARDS THE MAIN TERMINAL.FIRST STOP WAS LIQUICA,30 KMS FROM DILI,WALKING ALONG THE BLACK SAND BEACH AND THROUGH THIS TOWN IT'S CENTREPIECE IS THE SAO JOAO DE BRITO CHURCH,MARKED IN HISTORY FROM IT'S MONUMENTS,JUST 20 METRES AWAY A SCHOOL FULL OF NOISY EXCITED CHILDREN SHOWS THAT EAST TIMOR IS CARVING OUT A NEW ENTHUSIASM FOR THE FUTURE,THIS WAS FURTHER ENHANCED AT THE SMALL TOWN OF MAUBARA,WHERE TO MY SURPRISE LOCAL WOMAN HAD BEEN GIVEN SMALL BUNGALOWS TO MAKE AND SELL THEIR HANDICRAFTS BY THE ROADSIDE,I CAN ONLY HOPE THIS SENSE OF DIGNITY AND PROUDNESS EXTENDS TO THIS EXERCISE BEING IMPLEMENTED IN OTHER DISTRICTS.THE OLD DUTCH FORTRESS STILL STANDS HERE ALONG WITH AN ORIGINAL CANNON FACING OUT TO THE SAVU SEA,THE PORTUGESE SWAPPED THIS AREA WITH THE NETHERLANDS FOR FLORES ISLAND!SOME OF EAST TIMORS BEST BEACHES AND SCENERY ARE LOCATED ALONG THE COASTAL ROAD LEADING INTO VATOBORO AND BATUGADE...WHITE SANDS,WARM WATERS AND TRADITIONAL FISHERMEN SETTING THEIR NETS MAKE UP THE IDEAL REFLECTIVE REST STOP.FROM BATUGADE YOU HAVE 2 OPTIONS..2KMS AROUND THE CORNER IS THE BORDER CHECK POINT FOR WEST TIMOR(INDONESIA),TURN LEFT AND THE ROAD SNAKES IT'S WAY UP THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SMALL TOWN OF BALIBO.HISTORICAL EVENTS AND NOW AN AUSTRALIAN MOVIE DETAILING THE "BALIBO 5"HAS PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ONTO THIS VILLAGE,DURING THE 1999 PEACE KEEPING OPERATIONS,THE 400 YEAR OLD OLD PORTUGESE FORTRESS WAS HOME TO AROUND 1,000 UNITED NATIONS PERSONEL,RECENTLY THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT PURCHASED THE HOUSE WHERE THE "BALIBO 5"HAD STAYED WHILE REPORTING ON THE INDONESIAN INVASION,NOW SERVING AS A MEMORIAL TO THE JOURNALISTS IT IS ALSO USED AS A COMMUNITY CENTRE.WINDING MY WAY BACK DOWN THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS INTO THE MALIANA VALLEY,THIS IS WHERE YOUR DRIVING SKILLS ARE TESTED,AS EACH SHARP BEND IS APPROACHED YOU START SENDING A MESSAGE TO ANY ONCOMING VEHICLES WITH THE CONSTANT USE OF YOUR CAR HORN WHILE KEEPING THE WHEELS ON THE ROAD,ALONG WITH A NEVER ENDING STREAM OF GOATS,PIGS,CHICKENS,HORSES,BUFFALOS,DOGS AND THEIR HUMAN COMPANIONS CRISS CROSSING,IT MAKES PEAK HOUR ON CORONATION DRIVE SEEM TAME!AS YOU APPROACH MALIANA,RICE FIELDS STRETCH FOR MANY KILOMETRES ACROSS A BEAUTIFUL SPRING LIKE VALLEY FED BY A HEALTHY WATER SUPPLY FROM THE RIVERS RUNNING FROM THE MOUNTAINS,DRIVING UP THE BIG HILL THAT OVERLOOKS THE TOWN I FOUND THE POUSADA(HOTEL)MALIANA,IT'S BEST DAYS MAY HAVE PASSED BY,BUT THE SPECTACULAR VIEWS DOWN THE VALLEY AT SUNSET WIPE AWAY THE HARD DAYS TRAVEL,WASHING OFF THE FATIGUE AND DUST WITH A COLD TIGER BEER,I WATCHED A SPIRITED BUNCH OF LOCALS PLAY VOLLEYBALL UNTIL THERE WAS NO LIGHT LEFT,IT WAS ANOTHER INDICATION THAT THE PEOPLE OF TIMOR LESTE ARE PLAYING THEIR OWN GAME.NEXT DAY I RAMBLED THROUGH THE MAIN MARKET AREA,GATHERING MY BREAKFAST OF DONUTS AND MANDARINS,THIS DAY WOULD TAKE ME UP THROUGH THE BIG MOUNTAIN PASS AND INTO BOBONARO,FROM THERE ONTO THE COASTAL TOWN OF SUAI NEXT TO THE TIMOR SEA.IN THESE REMOTE REGIONS TRANSPORT IS NON-EXISTANT,SO MANY FAMILIES HAVE TO WALK LONG DISTANCES TO TAKE THEIR FARM PRODUCE TO MARKETS,YOU PASS MANY FULLY LADEN HORSES ON THE TRACKS TO REGIONAL CENTRES,SO IT GAVE ME GREAT PLEASURE TO HELP MANY GROUPS MAKE THE TREK EASIER,IT WAS MY PAYBACK TO LAST YEARS VISIT WHEN LOCALS AFFORDED ME LIFTS, BAGS OF ,CORN,PEANUTS AND CHICKENS ALL HELD EQUAL SPACE IN THE BACK WHILE CHATTING IN MY BROKEN PORTUGESE/BAHASA/ENGLISH COMBINATION TO THE EXCITED PASSENGERS,AFTER THE TORTURE OF THE GOAT TRACKS AROUND BOBONARO, IT WAS A SENSE OF JOY WHEN I SPOTTED THE TIMOR SEA WAY OFF IN THE DISTANCE,MANY OF MY "TAXI" PASSENGERS WERE STUDENTS GOING TO SCHOOL,HOLDING RIPPED EXCERCISE BOOKS FULL OF BASIC ENGLISH,THEY ASKED FOR HELP IN SPEAKING MORE WORDS AND PHRASES.A COUPLE OF BOYS FROM ZUMALAI ESCOLA SHOULD NOW BE FULLY VERSED IN THE TERM "I AM PLEASED TO MEET YOU"!THE RUN ALONG THE COAST TOWARDS SUAI RATTLES THE BONES WITH 30KMS OF CORRUGATIONS,NORMALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TO IN WET SEASON,NEW BRIDGES ARE BEING CONSTRUCTED TO HOPEFULLY ALLOW ACCESS TO SUAI ALL YEAR AROUND.AFTER CHECKING INTO THE EASTERN DRAGON HOTEL,MY TRUSTY PAIR OF THONGS TOOK ME OUT INTO THE BLAZING AFTERNOON SUN TO EXPLORE,WITHIN 10 MINUTES I HAD THE SENSE THAT SUAI WAS ONE OF EAST TIMORS BEST KEPT SECRETS,AN INCREDIBLE COMMUNITY PRIDE MET ME EVERYWHERE,EVERYONE WAS HAPPY TO TELL ME THEIR STORIES OF STRUGGLE AND HOPE,A NEW HOSPITAL HAS OPENED IN SUAI CREATING MANY JOBS AND HELPING PEOPLES HEALTH,THE FRONTEIRA GUEST HOUSE WAS ADDING EXTRA ROOMS AND A NEW RESTAURANT WAS NEARLY COMPLETE...SCHOOLS WERE FULL AND THE 'FRIENDS OF SUAI"AN AUSTRALIAN VOLUNTEER GROUP HAD MADE THE COMMUNITY CENTRE A PLACE OF VISION FOR LOCALS.EVEN THOUGH THE TOWN SEEMED BUSY WITH ENDEVOUR,THE FEEL WAS LAID BACK,IT REMINDED ME OF VANIMO IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA.AS I WANDERED INTO THE RESTAURANT ATTACHED TO THE EASTERN DRAGON,IT SEEMED LIKE THE WHOLE TOWN HAD GATHERED FOR A PARTY!A BIG GROUP OF UNITED NATIONS POLICE,AID WORKERS,AUSSIE VOLUNTEERS AND A HEALTHY MIX OF SUAI LOCALS ALL GATHERED INTO THIS TRADITIONAL HUT,THE FOOD WAS FANTASTIC,FRESH SEAFOOD FROM LOCAL WATERS FILLED MOST OF THE MENU,WHEN SOMEONE TOLD ME THIS IS THE BEST RESTAURANT IN EAST TIMOR,I COULD NOT DISAGREE.WHAT A NIGHT!THANKYOU TO ALL THE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE AND FAMILYS I MET ON THIS LEG OF MY "TOUR DE TIMOR".

DON FOSTER
JUNE 2009

1 comment:

davidbaer said...

Ways to Influence People Online and Make Them Take Action
Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.

www.onlineuniversalwork.com