“So we’re going to leave at 4:30am tomorrow morning so that we can catch the 7am to the Island of Arturo?” I ask in a clarifying manner.
“Yes, we’ll leave about that time.” Says Donna in her sweetly quiet inviting voice. (Donna is a volunteer who does dental work in Dili and at the Bakhita Centre. If you ask her if she likes her job she’d tell you that she likes working at the Bakhita Centre)
I then walk over to Anders’ room (a shipping container which you can apparently see from google earth.)
“Will you please wake me up about 10 minutes before we need to leave?”
“Yeah, if I get up” he smirks back.
I hate it when you don’t have an alarm and need to be up at a certain time. I tend to not sleep all that well, constantly checking my watch to see what times it is. Does this happen to you?
Anyways, I woke up at 3:11am and thought to myself “about 45 minutes of sleep and then we’ll get ready to hit the road.”
I then wake up again “5:00”am it reads on my illuminated watch screen. “SHIT!” I hop out of bed trying to make it through my mosquito net and then put my head lamp on. Run over to Anders’ like home
“Anders” I whisper loudly
“What?” he sleepily asks
“It’s 5am. We’re late. What do we do?” I ask
So we all scramble to get all that we need to head down the mountain into Dili. Dili is only about 60km away from Bakhita..however the roads are pretty crap. It’s littered with dogs sleeping, puppies, chickens, cows, goats, cats, kids, people, coffee trucks, mini-buses, cars, UN vehicles, motorcycles and no side rails. Needless to say it takes an agile and experienced driver…thank God for Anders.
So Anders and I pile onto the back of his scooter. I have my backpack, he has his messenger bag (which he’s had since 1996…really…really. 1. That’s amazing 2. Who honestly lives out of a messenger bag?) and a pair of fins. It’s freezing cold, dark and damp from the morning dew. My hair whiped in my face crusting over with a mixture of the morning due and freezing air.
I have to say, though, that traveling Timor by motorcycle is probably one of the best methods of travel. There’s this point when you’re coming down from the mountain where you get a glimpse of the valley below and the ocean creeping through. It was at a moment in the morning when the sun was waking the world up and illuminating our drive. Every time that I see it, it never ceases to make me proclaim ‘It’s Beautiful Here!”
We arrived in Dili at 6:57am. Now, if you don’t know me..I am a control freak (losing it a bit) and like to be on time. There’s only one ferry per week to this Island…that was apparently at 7am on Saturday. I was freaking out because I thought that we were going to miss the ferry.
Anders goes to pick up Vaughn (he’s working with ‘Doctors W/O Borders’ establishing running water for local schools in Dili as well as developing curriculum to be added to the Engineering Uni course regarding water engineering. Good work!) I go into this hotel, Hotel Timor, and feel like I’ve been put into the western world. I mean, it’s bloody Timor. Cornflakes, bacon/eggs, muesli is not Timorese food. It’s amazing how living in the mountains and being honest, as much as I can, with the culture makes you appreciate the traditional breakfast of sweet potato, tapioca root, fried sweet potato, homemade rolls.
I grabed a cup of coffee then met the boys and Donna outside.
‘I just found out that ferry isn’t going to be leaving until about 9am” Donna informs us
“Oh, that’s great” I exclaim with a bit of relief. One because I really wanted to go to the Island. Second because I didn’t really want to spend a whole day in Dili. I was already sweating it is so hot.
“Lets go and get some brekky” Anders suggests—well honestly if there’s an ability to eat food..Anders is for it.
So we mosey on down to a local hangout and order fried temphe, rolls w/ a mince pork filling, friend bananas, and of course coffee. I eat and apple and have a second cup of coffee J
We catch the ferry over to Arturo. Before I talk about the Island..lets talk about this ferry.
What will you see on this ferry?
- Pigs tied upside down by their feet, suspended upon a stick between their joined feet
- Live chickens with their feet tied together being carried by people
- Bags of vegetables
- Tons of people
I was a bit overwhelmed these was so much going on, but we all managed to get on with no big dramas. I met a couple from Perth (yes, it’s a small world).
Now the Island!!!! OH MY GOD, HEAVEN!
It’s gorgeous. The ocean is like glass with flecks of white, teal, and dark blue. It’s so beautiful. We walk down to this EcoLodge that is owned by an Australian, Barry, and Timorese woman, Lina. They are so nice, sweet and inviting. Not to mention that they have the most adorable little twin boys. Honestly, they look like sumo wrestler babies.
We’re all a big exhausted from our early morning start and craved just sitting on the inviting verandah and talking with Barry.
We drank some amazing coffee and then Barry offered us lunch. AMAZING FOOD! Papaya salad, curry vegetables, noodles, more yummyness and fresh smoked fish. The fish was amazing.
We then decide to accomplish our task for the island and snorkel in the most amazing waters ever. I can’t even describe the sights that we say. Honestly, it was gorgeous. Electric blue fish swimming, schools of little fish which you could swim through, black fish, NEMO, a ray, the most beautiful coral ever, teal stick like structures, angel fish.
Peaceful, beautiful, fresh, refreshing, amazing!
After about an hour of snorkeling we came back to crash on the gazebos which are part of the lodge.
The boys went and got some coconuts, which they had to break open on the rocks. The gazebos are open to the amazing ocean breeze and right on the ocean. RIGHT ON THE OCEAN! There are five other little huts which you can rent out for 20.00/night—which includes food :). Oh did I mention that they also include a hammock on your porch? Man I wish that we had time to stay for the weekend. However, we had to catch the afternoon Ferry back to Dili. There’s only one ferry on Saturdays 9am to Arturo, 6pm to Dili. Otherwise you have to charter a boat of catch a fishing boat back. I love it.
Again the ferry was a trip. It was awesome because it was the night time so the stars were out along with the moon. It was a great way to unwind from the day. It’s when I presented Vaughn with his birthday cake! I made a banana cake by steaming it over a camp fire the night before. This is the finished product with a caramlise banana topping.
I carried two slices down the mountain for him to celebrate his Birthday. It’s illegal in my mind to have a birthday and not have a cake and/or friends around to celebrate with you.
We got back around 10pm…and we were a little tired. Well I was a lot tried. We talked to some of the people who were staying in the hotel that Anders, Vaughan and I stayed at. They were from a high school in Canberra and were leading a group of Year 11-12s on a 10 day service trip. Cool people, cool project.
After the most amazing journey to Arturo yesterday….a sleep in boded well. I had fried rice and a fried egg for breakfast.
After dinking around a bit we ended up a local Indian Restaurant for lunch. This is a picture of the best vegetable samosa I’ve ever had!
Dili may not be the most amazing place in the world..however, the food is amazing. Or so I am told. I have an early flight out on Saturday morning, so there’s been talk of meeting up with Vaughan (he lives in Dili) and doing a eat through Dili afternoon before I head back to Australia. Sounds great to me 🙂
We then went to the beach so Donna and Anders and some of their friends to snorkel along Dili Rock. I met up with a newly wed couple, also recently graduated from university, from Iowa. They are voluenterring through a Catholic agency for two years teaching English.
“So what were your degrees at college?” I ask..thinking that perhaps one of them was in teaching.
“Physical therapy” the girl responds
“Logistics” the guy responds. “We’re attempting to teach English” he says.
It would be so hard w/o a teaching background, moving to a third world country as a newly wed couple, recently graduated from college, living on nothing, doing something that you may have minimal training in. That is character and relationship building. I loved it as well, because it was the girls’ birthday.
“Today has been totally planned out for me and I haven’t had any idea what is going on. It’s been all surprises.” She says with a smile.
He planned a surprise get together lunch with her friends in Dili, a snorkeling lesson and then something else for the afternoon/night. That’s the type of man I want to marry.
So, after chilling out on the beach and watching the crazys go snorkeling again Anders and I headed back up the mountain with two backpacks and a pair of fins. Again the place is just fantastic. Well getting a bug in your eye and then having it burn isn’t awesome..but the views are.
I just want to say that I am having the time of my life. I love every single second of my time here. I feel like I am surrounded by like-minded amazing people who I click with…for the first time in a long time.
I am content.