Last Sunday, Pat and I went snorkelling at Back Beach behind the Jesus statue, as we’ve done on many a Sunday morning in the last two years. Later, we wandered around to the next bay. A high stone wall has appeared on the cliff edge. It won’t be long before the view of Atauro Island is commandeered by whichever ema boot (big-wig) is building a house on that beautiful spot.
The beaches and hills of Dili have sustained us during our two-year stint. You can see the Jesus statue (Cristo Rei) at the end of the point, and Atauro Island in the distance.
Behind us work had begun on a five-star tourist resort; across the water, new dirt roads zigzagged over the hills, heralding more exclusive development. We agreed that we’ve been lucky to be in Timor at this time. A time of optimism, in spite of all its problems. A peaceful time, sandwiched between the turmoil of the past and the creeping inequality that casts a shadow over the future. Continue reading →
A chance to repay the kindness of the Timorese after our car broke down on our Mount Matebian trip three weeks ago came sooner than expected.
Tony, our guide Guido, Pat, Pip, Julia and Del at the entrance to the Loi Hunu caves.
We spent last weekend at Loi Hunu, south of Baucau, with Julia, Del and Tony, three other Kiwi volunteers. It’s my favourite place in Timor with impressive limestone caves and a beautiful river hole (see my Gals’ Weekend blog).
On Sunday afternoon, as we were contemplating another swim, there was a loud crash. Everyone in the village went running through the trees, followed by Julia and me. To find out more, click on the photos below.
A truck carrying a load of gravel has slipped off the steep dirt road and toppled into the ditch. The driver and a child are unharmed but the truck’s lying on its side like a beached whale.
The locals enter into a tug-of-war with the truck. Result: Truck = 1, locals = O.
Faced with a sticky problem, I do what I always do: volunteer the services of Pat who‘s enjoying a quiet read on the hotel verandah.
As Pat arrives, an approaching motorbike skids off the road, tipping driver and passenger into the scrub. The driver zooms away, leaving his good-natured passenger, still wearing his helmet, to face the crowd’s teasing and finish the climb on foot lugging jerry cans of fuel.
Pat decides our rented 4WD might be able to tow the truck out..
The 4WD’s wheels spin in the dust and the truck remains beached.
Big kids look after little kids while the drama unfolds.
Someone hacks down a tree with a machete. It falls across the road with a thump, scattering the crowd and almost causing another calamity.
Some of the men use the tree trunk to lever up the truck.
…And Pat gets the signal to start moving forward..
Great teamwork gets the thumbs up. The truck’s upright. But its back wheels are still deep in the ditch.
The locals, helped by Tony (front left), embark on a second tug-of-war. Result: truck = 2, locals + Tony = O.
Things are looking a bit grim..
‘You want me to do what?’ Pat confers about the next step while I keep a close eye on proceedings.
The truck’s back wheel is levered up and boosted with boulders.
Another round of pushing, pulling and towing finally gets the truck back on the road, followed by cheers, handshaking and thanks
Two hours after the truck crashed, the excitement’s over and kitchen staff head down to the hotel to cook dinner for Pat, the local hero, and the rest of us.
Everyone says you have to get out of Dili to see the real Timor. That’s where three-quarters of the population live, far from the capital’s hot streets and hustle. What better reason to join a gals’ weekend to the highlands with Tracey and Liz – two other Kiwi women of a certain age – and Carol, a young American brave enough to hang out with us.
Not that women in the real Timor would take off in a car together for three days. When Pat told Lukas, a World Vision driver, we’d gone gallivanting without husbands, Lukas slapped his thigh and roared with laughter as if it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. Continue reading →