Short Trips

August - December 2003

mjones@fjac.com

A Visit to Motaulun

Mark, Teresa, and I went to visit our buddy, Will, over in the Liquica district. His life in the small town of Motaulun (Head of the River) is sure different from ours in Manatuto: no daily market, no regular traffic to Dili, no nightly electric service, no UN presence; it's great! Lots of curious kids run around, the air is fresh and a little cool at night, people have gardens, and there aren't so many pigs running around as we have in Manatuto!

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    Motaulun's Uma Lulik       Uma Lulik Cap       Kids in a Dry River       Chefe's Family  
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    Peeping       Watching       Reading       Reading Together  
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    Will's Host Mother       Communicating with the Spirits?       Will and Family  

Baucau

Back at the beginning of October, Teresa, Mark and I broke up the mounting monotony of the simple life in manatuto by making a day trip to Baucau. We brought along Teresa's kid sister, Ani, to help us find our way around. She was a big help, though she'd never been to Baucau (about an hour by microlet) before. We had fun visiting the fancy hotel there, eating in a restaurant (though it had a fancier menu, the service and choices were essentially the same as those in Manatuto), and hanging out on the beach, swimming in the crystal-clear waters above fantastic corals (Mark could better describe those as I forgot my contacts so could only make out a beautiful montage of fuzzy color and swift shadows). We tried to get a boat back, but on such short notice, the fishermen tried their hand at extortion rather than offering a fair price, and we found a convenient microlet.

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    Mark and His Tekis       Inseparable       Sisters       Flamboya  
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    Giant Tree       Ani Reveling       Shortcut  

Com & Los Palos

For our next little excursion, Will joined us and the four of us made for the eastern end of the island. Teresa and I caught a bus to Laleia were we joined Will and Mark, had breakfast and waited for a ride eastward. A pickup took us to Baucau, and there we contracted a microlet to take us the two hours to Com, a little town with and Australian-run resort. We played cards, relaxed, talked, and looked for a boat to take us the next day to Jaco Island, about three hours down the coast.

An Indonesian friend of mine had just done this trip a week before, with his girlfriend, for $45, round trip. We talked to a few fishermen, and none had extra fuel to take us. Had we a car, they would go with us to the nearest town and buy gas, but we had no car. The man with the fuel, insisted on $60 per boat, and said we'd need two boats because we were so big: This fellow would rather get nothing than take us for the fair price he gave to Indonesians the week before. So we slept in the next day, enjoying the luxurious feeling of carpets beneath our feet, and well appointed quarters. Lazing around till noon, we finally caught a truck with seats for hire humping over the hill to Los Palos. Los Palos was a quiet little town, and like the rest of the district, impressively clean -- not a loose pig or goat to be seen, trash mostly collected and burnt, yards orderly with even the sand neatly fenced into piles. While waiting for the rain to fall, we struck up conversation with a few locals. Mark and Will went over to check out the local stores, and read a short history of Che Guevara. When the rain stopped, we soon found ourselves in the midst of one of those ubiquitous scenes westerners face in any place not too accustomed to white folks hanging around on a street corner: we became the evening's entertainment. A crowd gathered, friendly enough, just to watch us sit and wait. The kids especially enjoyed looking into the screen of our digital cameras and seeing their photographs taken a few seconds before. By waiting several hours, we managed to bargain the price of our ride down from $60 to $45, and got a ride in a late model pontiac rather than on the hard wooden seats of a pick-up truck.

The moon accompanied us home, rising just as we crested the dividing hills. The rains had stopped, and we all sat back and enjoyed the three-hour ride, listening to perhaps the most memorable imported Western music: "like the lazy ocean hugs the shore, hold me close, sway me more," complete with interviews of the very articulate young women singers. It's a song we often hum along together and accompany our manual labor with. We luckily avoided the monstrous water buffalo that loomed out of the dark as we rounded a corner, and soon were home in Manatuto.

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    Best Friends       The Microlet       Hotel Room       Waiting Out the Rain  
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    Waiting Out the Rain       Showing Themselves       Crowd Watching  

mj