"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"
Hunter S. Thompson.
It's been a while since I tapped the keyboard with my traveller's perspective on our new home and since I last wrote we were fortunate enough to zip over to Darwin and Bali for a beautiful relaxing holiday, the benefits of our geographic location apparent.
On the flip side our geographic location also means that sometimes the most basic of requirements are lacking in this developing country. Isabel had a nasty accident recently during the most risky of activities (sleeping!) and after rolling out of bed and breaking her collarbone we had to fly to Darwin for Western hospital style XRay's (I am happy to report Isabel is now on the mend and has a rail on her bed).
Between daily kid wrangling, never ending shopping adventures to find food (we haven't seen milk in over a month), avoiding all manner of beasts driving Oscar to school (last week it was a water buffalo), part time volunteer work at the beautiful Alola Esperansa, learning Tetum, and studying online, plus a regular fitness routine - I am in a new kind of wonderful life. I am beginning to remember what its like to have a jam-packed itinerary beyond children and run on adrenalin (not simply caffeine).
Occupado Barack? La Problema!
We are making some amazing friends from all over the world and finding that our social calendar is also chaotic. So what does one do for fun in Dili? Glad you asked.
Days of dust and bumps and dodging potholes result in a constant thirst for water (and Bintang!).
We are very lucky to live in a compound with a pool (which not everyone is fortunate enough to have, most particularly the locals who find bare bottom wave darting in the ocean or multi-drains just as satisfying). So yes, we are in the pool almost daily.
The centre for all things expat tends to be the beach (tasi ibun), which is the 'go to' place for all manner of birthday parties and catch ups, particular if one doesn't have a pool. The long hot days simply must be balanced by the coolness of water no matter how you find it.
One of the many fantastic locations we have enjoyed visiting is Cameio Beach - home of the 'Black Rock' restaurant* which is usually infested by expats on weekends. A bumpy 45min drive out of Dili past villages and vacant fishing boats it is situated next to the small district known as Liquica.
Liquica is located on the northern coast of Timor-Leste and the view across the Ombai Strait is stunning as you drive the bumpy road from Dili. Famous for a sad time in Timor's history, my understanding is that being sympathisers to the Militia during the Indonesian occupation there were many buildings constructed by the Indonesian's demonstrating the architecture of the occupying country. Violence erupted after after the 1999 referendum and everything was destroyed, and the infamous Liquica Church Massacre resulted in the murder of many Timorese in April 1999, the exact number still disputed today.
On our first visit to the district back in April the roads were closed off and many fierce looking soldiers were directing traffic, many of streets being blocked off. What we were to later learn, was that the day itself was the 15th anniversary since the massacre and the commemoration ceremony was as somber as it was large.
As so often it is in life, beauty is the partner of many a misfortunate time and the area is equally as lovely as sad is its recent past. Black Rock restaurant is a wonderful location to 'plonk' in the water, have a few drinks, go fishing (if you are so inclined), and admire the beautiful coastline as the cool waters lap across the pebbly beach.
Back in heart of Dili, 'UN beach' was named so for obvious reasons during the early days of the 'new' Timor-Leste and peppered along the shoreline on any given weekend you will see sights ranging from lounging hung over aid workers drinking coconut juice straight out of the shell, kids building sandcastles, people in kayaks gliding through the cool clear waters (just don't mention the La Faek - crocodiles), and more than a few aging Portuguese men in speedos soaking up the sun's rays. But enough about Marco…
Last weekend we caught up with friends for some dignified cocktails and sunset gazing at a Portuguese owned beachside location and I had to pinch myself for a minute that I wasn't at some glamorous resort in Bali or Thailand. Dili sunsets are right up there with the most beautiful I have ever seen, the contrasting brilliant reds and oranges peaking through cloud cover and across the ocean are even more satisfying with a Caprihnia in hand. Trust me.
From beach to bumpy road we will continue to go, and almost 6months in, the journey is lovelier by the day.
If you want to see more about Caimeo beach and add to your itinerary when visiting Timor see below!