A Travellerspoint blog



The Finale=====

It is hard to believe that it is now almost seven weeks since my return from East Timor. Unfortunately there were some very helpful people who tried to fix my computer in Dili which meant that I couldn’t use it until I sorted it out on my return so I called it an enforced break. So what happened in the last few weeks. For those of you are may still be checking from time to time to see if in fact there is conclusion well here it is.

Meeting Gloria

Gloria and I finally met out at the college where she studies at the Instituto Scientifica Religiosa. Gloria is probably best described as petite bubbly young lady and it was great to actually meet her. We ended up going back to where she is living with her uncle and many other family members. Just by way of update Gloria is from a small town called Zumalai about an eight hour drive from Dili. Gloria is residing with her family in Dili until a bed space becomes available for her at the College and she is looking forward to not having to get up so early to commute to school.

We also caught up when she invited a couple of her friends to come over to Timor Lodge where I was staying and yet again when my mother was over as Gloria and her delightful brother Danny came with us on a day trip to a place called Maubere. Maubere is about a two hour drive north to a little town that was used by the Portuguese as a fort and there are great craft markets there.

Helen will return to Dili in 2013

The money I paid for Gloria’s tuition was directed to a Carmelite Brother (via the Carmelites in South Melbourne) to dispense the funds as necessary as funds are paid out of the account on a tri-annual basis and this also depends on the subjects that Gloria elects. I finally met up with Brother Antonio at the Carmelite Nuns in Dili to discuss Gloria’s study.

Long story short I start my English as a Second Language Course when I can get around to enrolling with the mission of returning to Dili September 2013 to teach the Carmelites for an intense month and I hope to make it an anuual event. Great, I always thought I would end up in a convent. I look so forward to returning to all those smiling faces.

Best Tour Organiser in Dili======

Having been in Dili for almost seven weeks I was able to assemble a comprehensive itinerary for my mother and I. Mum arrived on the morning of the 19 April 12 at 0715h to start the whirlwind tour heading straight out to the mountains to Maubisse where we stayed in the pousada - vestige to the history of Portugese building. It was about a four hour trip allowing for the stop at the cafe set up for commemoration of WWII and displays video footage as testimony of how the East Timorese helped we Aussies out sooo much. I think we should be eternally indebted for what they did for us. By the time we stopped in Alelieu on the way we finally arrived in Maubisse early afternoon.

Even East Timor becomes small as one of the girls from the Sao Miguel College where I was teaching came running up calling me Mrs Helen, Mrs Helen. Over there everyone is referred to with a title and given my age (boo hoo) I had the honour of being called Mrs. It was great seeing her with her friends and they later came to our room to share in cheese and biscuits. Noni (who I had met the last trip) came up with a group of her friends to collect all the balls that we had taken up for her. Noni was the girl who I met after taking up one soccer ball last time and she asked if I had anymore or a table tennis table. She was happy to take away basketballs, volleyballs and soccer balls.

That night our driver Augus joined us for dinner. Here is a plug for Tony and his wife who run a business in rentalcars and driver. Tony’s number is (+670) 7343416. They charge $80 a day without petrol. Providing meals isn’t a requirement but it is only fare to include meals for the driver and it is always interesting gleaning more about their lives.

Return to Dili

After a one night stay we took our time driving back to Dili and we were booked into the Casteways. Great little hotel and our accommodation was only $60 a night with share bathroom {contact number(+670) 723 7382}. They also have a kitchenette where you can cook your own meals and a little lounge room to watch TV if you are so inclined needless to say I don’t think it was ever used given there is so much to do and see.

Meeting Ramos Horta

Next morning we had another driver (Alberto ) pick us up to drive us to Baucau. What a scream. Honestly this guy is great if you book with Tony see if you can get Alberto to take you to Baucau. About an hour into the journey I said it would be nice if we could stop for coffee. Alberto really became part of the family as everytime we hit a bump hard he would turn around and say ‘sorry Mum’ with the cutest of accents.

As it turned out the requested stop coincided with a very shattered tyre as I kept saying something felt funny with the driving sitting in the back of the car. When we asked Alberto where the cafe was he said he thought we had brought our own coffee. Oh well. Poor Alberto couldn’t find the wrench to change the tyre nor the key to unlock the tyre that was on the back of the 4WD so I asked him to go to another 4WD I spied in the distance. While Alberto was gone I managed to flag down what turned out to be two very cute Portuguese officers. Their wrench worked but they didn’t have the key to release the replacement tyre . A thorough search of the glove box found both so within a short time we were on the road again.

Pousada Baucau

The Pousada was well worth staying at although building excavations were going on at the back of the hotel. At only $70 a night Mum and I had separate rooms. The restaurant that night was beautiful although and it was a pleasant surprise to find that President Ramos Horta was dinning with his entourage of 15 other males. We didn’t have much chance to converse although we did have an opportunity for some photos. President Horta was not re-elected in the East Timorese elections and so this was a journey to say goodbye to all those he had had contact with during his time as President.

Next day we headed down to the beach to a restaurant we discovered the previous day. Meals were only $8 each with fresh fish, rice, chips and vegies. The day was just so perfect, the people were great, service excellent, scenery magnificent, temperature spot on. My sister had sent $100 over with Mum to buy things for wherever I perceived the need. Having been down at the beach the day before and seeing all the kids down there we went shopping in Baucau before we went down to the beach armed with thongs, clothes, buckets and balls for the kids. Also a few bags of rice and food were purchased for families. People were just so appreciate of the bits and pieces they received. It really doesn’t take much to make them happy and I suppose for my part the most disappointing part of the trip was those from Australia that were receiving a very, very good income and not providing any aid whatsoever. It is not a matter of just giving money but a few bags of rice here and there at $16 isn’t that expensive. Buying balls for the kids at $5 each to play with and just small basic things means so much to them. If you put into perspective that the average wage is $5 a day and if you were to consider what you earned for a full day could you afford to buy a basketball on your full day’s earnings?

Returning from Baucau was funny as well. As we were travelling along Alberto decided he needed to buy sardines for his family to cook that night. I couldn’t figure out how I never heard him open up the back of the car to put the fish in but he had slung them onto the back tyre and then pulled over later as they were coming loose. Then he tried to sling them on the driver’s side mirror until he was finally convinced to put them in a plastic bag we had and keep them in the car. We had such a laugh about such a small thing.

ANZAC Day in Dili

We returned to Dili 24 Apr 12 as we wanted to attend the ANZAC Day ceremony. My friend Robert turned up to drive us to the venue and it was great to be part of a celebration of our history. The comparison from freezing temperatures in Canberra with the many times we have attended ANZAC Day at the War Memorial to honouring those fallen in a country that had helped us through so much was very special. What was so sad is to see all those young lives that had been lost as a result of the operations that we have had since WWII. Being Catering Corps in the Army there is a special mention for LCPL Andrew Gordon Jones. LCPL Jones was tragically killed in action on 30 May 2011 at a patrol base north of Tarin Kot, Afghanistan. He was the first AACC soldier to be killed on active duty since the Vietnam War.

Onto Maubere

Augus was back as our driver and we went down to Maubere for the day as previously mentioned with Gloria and her brother Danny. It was a great trip down via the coast and being a week day very quiet everywhere. We had the restaurant to ourselves (which was just as lucky given the time they needed to milk the cows and haul the fishing lines in but a really great environment).

Aratauro Island

Next day it was onto Aratauro Island for two days. We booked into Compass with Robert’s company taking us over. For those who have previously read it is $5.00 on the main Ferry but it takes three hours and leaves at 8 am but then returns at 3 pm the same day. There is another taxi which is $30 each way but there is a minimum of four people required to run it and depends on the weather whereas Compass runs just about all the time and is $45 so we decided that the $45 option knowing that we were going to get there was the best option. Compass number is (+670) 7230964 and email address is: svscdili@tesltra .com . Robert is very accommodating and runs diving courses and group accommodation on the island as well. All else fails with contact details just go into www.guidepost.com

The Island

What a great couple of days. We had the biggest bungalow there with two stories so Mum had the ground level and I had the top. Day 1 we met another lady from Warnambool Rotary who we had met at Castaways and she was there with a young girl who she had given an opportunity of getting away and doing something different. We had so much fun together getting a tuck tuck to see the local crafts that were made with ladies using the old deadly treadlies. Their working conditions where pitiful and it was terrible seeing them all working in the dark with the amount of work they were turning over of a day. The sewing was fantastic and what I would assume was a quilters dream for the work they produced.

With some of the other money my sister had given me we bought reems of A4 paper and crayons to take over to the island for one of the schools. We met the principal and he was really happy with even the small contribution we could provide him with.

On returning to Barry's we had a lunch with a quiet afternoon. That night we booked into an Italian Restaurant down the road which took about 30 minutes for $2 per head each way. You have to pre-order your meals at the restaurant which is also organised by Barry's which is not a problem but sooo much food one dish would have been enough for two. Again the four of us headed out together so we shared our orders that night. The pizza was fantastic and probably the best choice of the dishes.

The trip back that night to Bary's was a little scary as there was another few girls getting a separate tuck tuck and the drivers decided they wanted to race. Racing is one thing but in complete darkness was another matter. In the end all torches to the front that anyone could provide for the drivers to see their way back home. We won in the end and the driver was given Mum’s torch to help out for future ventures.Next day we returned to Dili after wishing Lena (the owner) and Mickey (the other adorable twin) goodbye. Barry was in Queensland with the other son at the time.

So What Happened Back In Dili?

We had a day and a half left before departure so it was going to some local Tais Markets to buy a few gifts to take home. We also did the trip up to Cristo Rei which is the big Jesus statue overlooking Dili. On the walk up there we inherited a family and we all had photos taken together. They are all so friendly and we really felt like a part of their family. We managed to eventually make our way back to enjoy a hot coffee or in my case a cold beer before we returned to our accommodation which at this time we had booked in to The Esplanade. It is more upmarket at $110 a night and a nice little restaurant in the bungalow style. If you are staying for a while best to talk to Ashley to ask for a better price.

30th April 2012

Finally time to depart this fine country. We got a taxi to the airport and had fun there as we usually do. I was overweight with my luggage by about 6 kilos and mum was under so they said I should transfer my luggage to Mum’s which I did. Long story short they still ended up charging me for being overweight even though the transfer had occurred but there comes a time it is not worth the arguments and just pay the bill. So we went through customs and sorted everything out expecting that there would be a cafe through immigration or at least a coffee machine but nothing. You couldn’t even buy a bottle of water.

Entertainment In Dili

There is not a lot that happens although they do have trivia at the Dili Hotel on a Tuesday night and probably more significant is a Thursday night to attend very special meaningful movies generally about Timor Leste. The movies run in two session with session one from 7pm and session two from 9pm. The movies are shown at Fundacao Oriente at Rua Dr. Antonlio Carvalho No 13 Apartado 470. For anyone not knowing the area it is just around the corner from the ANZ Bank in Dili and as there is only one ANZ Bank it is a pretty significant landmark to base your directions. They do have service of beverages prior to the movie. (www.fairtradefilms.com.au or www.aguerradabeatriz.com)

Where to from here?

The days have been full on trying to get my home back to order, catching up with friends albeit very intermmitedly given my commitments, a trip to Perth and starting a new job in Canberra. After retiring as an ARA member of the ADF I always said I would return as a reservist given the knowledge and experience I had accumulated. An appointment with Wollongong Recruiting didn’t work out last year but I can say that I am very fortunate to have secured a terrific reservist position in Canberra at the Directorate of Reserve Officer Career Management- Army. This is right down my alley given my previous experience in career management.I have landed in a great place, a great space with a group of wonderful people for which I am very lucky. Canberra is a magnificient place this time of the year with all the colour changes in the trees although hard getting back to the very cool temperatures of a morning.

To end this particular blog I can say that journeying to East Timor has finally given me a real sense of a future purpose as to how best help out in the country. There is no doubt that education of the people is the best way to go to help move the Timorese from where they are to where they should be heading. Should anyone wish to sponsor any child through education I have contacts and there is always the possibility of combining with friends to help sponsorship knowing there is no middle man and all monies are donated directly.


I give thanks for the wonderful opportunities I have experienced and the most interesting people that have crossed my life in the last few months. I thank my friends and family who donated money to buy things for the locals that I thought would help out and the smiles on the receiving faces will be with me forever. My friends Janelle and David gave me some cards to hand out from time to time to people that I would like to thank for different things. They are cards where you have to take the cover off to read the saying. I kept one card for myself and opened it to read the saying: “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am older I admire thoughtful people”. I admire clever people that use their skills to be thoughtful. I watched a talk back session when in Dili with Mr Simon Mordant being interviewed. His statement was that anything that encourages more giving is good. I believe it is a statement that we should be conscious of in our day to day actions and a statement that unfortunately I feel doesn’t permeate through our society. How are you going to give or encourage giving today?

I am an extremely fortunate soul and I know that the rest of 2012 will be interesting, demanding, exciting and most of all rewarding.
Should anyone wish to talk about any aspects of an impending journeys to East Timor please feel free to call me on 0419230812.

Here's to the East Timorese and may God bless them all.

Posted by prayer49 19:22 Archived in Australia

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