06.04.2012 - 10.04.2012
All I can say is what an absolutely incredible Easter.
Carol was around at 10am on the Friday morning to pick me up with her flat mate Nancy. Carol is from Texas, Nancy from the Phillipines and me born in Chile made it an interesting conversatiion during the journey. We met up with the others here in Dili where we travelled in convoy with three vehicles and 12 people. Carol's partner and another friend had gone ahead by pushbike and we would catch up with them later.
The drive to Maubisse was tremendous. We meandered through the countryside at a steady pace given the condition of the roads and stopped at Alieu for lunch and caught up with the other two. We arrived in Maubisse about 3pm and settled into our accommodation called Maubisse Cafe. It was only $15 each per night and given the number of us we booked out the whole place.
Dinner was at the pousada that night - an original Portuguese building overlooking Maubisse. I will be going back and actually staying at the Pousada when my mother comes over. It is the best place to book in for meals of an evening although a very casual affair but meals are cheap at an average of $6 per meal. After dinner it was back to the accommodation for games and it was a heap of fun playing spoons although the looser had to eat a banana. I think they were happy to loose as there was still a liittle hunger amongst the group. One of the guys said last time the looser had to eat potatoes and chillies as there was so much left over from their cooking. I love chillies but I don't think I could come at eating them on loosing a game.
The trip to Maubisse is very worth while and the village is really quaint. The main church was opposite the accommodation and being Easter was the centre for a lot of people to come and worship. Apparently they have a great food market on Sundays where all the locals come in to sell their wares (including donkeys, goats, chooks and pigs) so it will be good to be up there for that. I took a soccer ball up to give to the kids which they loved so now I am on a promise to provide basketballs, volleyballs and soccerballs next visit. They also asked for a ping pong table but I explained that would be a little difficult.
Sat morning was a slow start and on the road by 10am after sitting around the top verandah admiring the splendid view over the village. Riders had swopped at this stage except for one guy who was determined to ride all the way to Hatobullico. Going was really tough on the bikes as the state of the roads were really bad. Given the ride the previous day and other things he called for backup to pick him up. I went back with the support vehicle.
A funny site ensued as when we got there one of the guys went to open the back door of the vehicle and out crashed the gurnie of wine that was going to be consumed that night. It was like a fountain with six holes and you have never seen so many bottles of water emptied out in the attempt to save the wine. So back to Mausbisse at which time one of the guys friends were coming through to join us at Hatobullico. We ended up having lunch together and then it was time to hit the road again. Brian stayed in Maubisse and was looking forward to attending the special church service that night.
Having had so much time in Dili I was just quite happy tooing and frowing and just enjoying the spectacular countryside. We arrived at Hatabullico which is 2000 metres above sea level and at the base of Mt Ramelau at about 3.30pm. Time to go for a walk and stretch the legs. Dinner was served that night at the accommodation and there were 18 for dinner. I got talking to another Palms volunteer whose husband helps out in the local clinic and for Dr Dan Murphy as well at different times. What a cross section of people that night. Amongst the group was also Catharine Williams who is the first person to write the English to Tetun dictionary, amongst other works, and her husband who is a research adviser for Dpt of Fisheries and Agriculture. Mr Woing was there whose wife runs Wong Lawyers - naturally I had to have a joke to him about that but no doubt he was used to it. There were NGO workers, UN workers and the list goes on. Suffice to say that the cross section of people at the table was amazing.
Not a late night as everyone was up by 2.30 am ready for a 3am departure to climb Mt Ramelau which is the highest point in Timor at a height of 2986m above sea level. A few of us armed with torches and being guided by moonlight we gradually made it to the top. We did quit well as usually they allow three hours but we took 1hr 50 mins. I can't remember the last time I was so cold - on second thoughts yes I can when I was doing officer training in the middle of Canberra in winter at -5 and having the old fashioned greens on without any jumper.
You have never seen a group huddle so tightly. I'm surprised we didn't leave our teeth up there. The sun gradually made its way up over the clouds and it was a site of incredible beauty. On one side was the sun coming up and on the other side was the moon shining down. As the sun continued to penetrate through the clouds it cast a shadow of Mt Ramelau on the other side which made for an amazing view. Naturally by this stage we all dreamed of a hot cup of coffee - well anything hot.
Having made full appreciation of the views it was time to do the walk back. I think I took the prize for the one that slipped the most as there was so much loose rubble. Everyone enjoyed the breakfast when we got back and then I headed off with Catharina and her husband Robert to go to a church service slightly off the beaten track going back to Maubisse being Easter Sunday. Well the intention was good but I ended up falling asleep in the back of the 4WD punching out a few ZZzzs uwhile they attended the service. After the service we were invited ti partake in coffee and corn with the preacher which was an honour.
After coffee it was the treck back to Dili with another pitstop at Aleiu where we met up with the others who had gone ahead. Everyone agreed what a fantastic weekend we had had. I got dropped back at Timor Lodge and ran straight into one of the guys here who invited me for a wine. Whow what a way to finish the weekend. The group that I tagged along with were mainly a church group and such a delightful warm group of people. I was so grateful to Carol for including me in her group and we are catching up for dinner this Friday. I was hoping to download some photos from the trip but I have collected a virus onto my E drive from where I have been working and so need to get that sorted as I can't download any photos out but in the mean time I will try and get a copy from some of the others.
Monday was a nice sleep in, a catch up on things and then I caught up with another girlfriend for drinks at 1.30pm. I have mentioned Naimi before and it was good catching up with what had been happening over the weekend. From there it was more socialisation and then out for dinner down near the beach. I was a content little vegemite that night pondering the many wonderful days that I had had.
And to add to this my luck continued. Today being Monday I received a phone call from the Australian Embassy saying that my passport had been picked up for me and it was ready to collect. Whow was I impressed and what nice people to do that for me. I tootled down to ETDA for a while to continue with the report and it is in the finishing stages and taking shape. It has been a great opportunity getting to learn more about what actually goes on with training here in Dili. To give you an example how diverse ETDA is today they had a workshop and meetings in regards to UNMIT pulling out (United Nations Mission In Timor) and how ETDA could assist with different facets. It has been so interesting watching the coming and going of people at ETDA it just reminds me of an ant farm with everyone going about their work.