Sunday, May 08, 2011

21 hours total, 8 of those sleeping.

So we eventually made it to Baucau. I wish we had got on the other bus, we ended up sitting in Dili on the bus for an hour before we went anywhere. I said it fit 20 people, man was I wrong, there was about 20 seats but I didn't account for the 4 or 5 people who would sit on the floor or the 6 or 8 guys who would hang out the side or sit on the roof..

As Mick had said it was a pretty interesting trip, there is a kind of organised chaos, the crazy way these things seem to work just in Timor. We spent 4 and a half hours listening to indonesian pop played loud enough to make your ears bleed with the occasional bon jovi or Bryan Adams thrown in. The bus travelled on the crappiest, most windy and most ridiculous road, kinda like the great ocean road except with waterfalls that crossed the road, pot holes as big as a car, and parts of the road that had literally fallen away down a cliff. There was a couple parts where I thought we were going to go off the edge. Along the way we stopped to pick people up and drop others off. When we eventually got to Baucau we were watching them unload the top rack of the bus, the amount of shit tied to the roof was mental, no joke there was a motorbike, a heap of bags of rice, 4 goats, and a jack russel that had been put in one of those big rice sacks and tied to the roof. No animal protection here.. When I say the goats were tied to the roof rack that is exactly what I mean, they had just been roped to the roof like anything else..

when we got there we called our contact Giacomo, who had given us his card on the plane from Darwin-Dili after seeing us taking photos out of the plane. Giacomo asked us to meet him at some restaurant, simple enough.. In Dili we have been replying quite heavily on taxis as we don't have a car, we assumed we could do the same in Baucau, But turns out there isn't any taxis in Baucau, so we had to jump on a microlet. A microlet is kinda the local bus service, they are basically a small van that has been hollowed out in the back and they have put bench seats around on the inside, they have these in Dili too. The only thing with the microlets is that they don't have a particular route like a normal bus so you kinda have to jump on and off whenever it starts to go somewhere you don't want to go. Again this would have been fine but we had not the slightest clue where anything was in Baucau, there is much less malae or tourists there so it's not very easily accessible if you don't speak tetun. We got on one and started asking how to get to this restaurant, a few people pointed in random directions etc trying to help. Eventually someone figured out what we were trying to do so the told us which microlet to get on, the same guy then got off with us and showed us where to go, in the end we realised he had actually taken us to the hotel we were staying in, we didn't even tell him where we were staying, I guess malae are that predictable. We checked in while we were there dropped off our bags etc, then had to actually go find the restaurant, we asked a couple of people again, turns out it was actually really close to where we were staying. Timorese people are so freakin helpful!

We met up with Giacomo for lunch, another of his friends had also come to Baucau for the night so he was at lunch also. After lunch we went for a drive about an hour out of Baucau to a community where one of Giacomo's projects had been implemented. He works for the UN food and agriculture project so basically they go out to communities with seeds, fertilizer and all that sort of stuff and teach the community to set up and maintain farms. The produce is used to feed the community with any excess to be sold for profit.

On the way we stopped at one of the first sites he had set up, it was a massive rice paddy, we all went for a walk down to where there was some kids and a couple of older ladies harvesting the rice, as we were walking around Mat was trying to get to one of the kids and fell into the rice paddy... Twice. Everyone who was in the paddy as well as the rest of the surrounding village pissed themselves laughing at him... As did we..

Once we got to the village were heading to, we ended up being there for about 2 hours Giacomo, had to meet with the community leaders and see how everything was going (this farm had been set up nearly a year ago so it was quite well established). Mat, Gabriel (Giacomo's friend) and I walked through the village and took some photos, talked with people and hung out with the entourage of children we developed..

This village was quite different from anywhere we had been in Dili, some of the houses were simply thatched on top to form a roof but didn't even have walls, some had sheets or basically anything they could find strung up around to offer some sort of privacy and protection. You could tell those who were a bit more wealthy, some had mud bricks around the base as walls. It was really humbling to see how they live like this, just goes to show we really don't need all the crap we have.

After the meeting we headed back to Baucau, stopping at another couple farms and plantations to take some more photos, Giacomo needed photos to show his bosses etc what they were doing. Once we got back to Baucau we grabbed some beers and these amazing banana chips and went down to the beach to watch the sun set. Pretty nice way to spent the afternoon.

We went back to the hotel and had a shower, first proper hot shower we had had in Timor, I'm not gonna lie I spent about 20mins in there is was amazing!! We had dinner with Giacomo and Gabriel at the hotel restaurant dinner wasnt the greatest but it was good enough. We stayed at the posada in Baucau, we were told that it's the best hotel in Timor, it was nice but wouldn't say it was the best in Timor, especially compared to the place Mick is staying at in Dili at the moment. We were just excited to have Internet and to get a decent nights sleep without the rat waking us up. Giacomo was heading to Dili at 9.30am so we got a lift back with him. it was almost more uncomfortable than the bus ride. There was 5 of us in one of those twin cab utes and I got stuck in the middle, it was painful when the road was so bendy and bumpy.. Was pretty glad to get back to Dili.

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