December 18, 2003


A few days before December 18th, Teresa and I were invited by Manatuto's resident Portuguese man to accompany him and some students from Kay Rala on a picnic. He said the point was for the students to walk to the mid-way point between Manatuto and a small village about 12 km away, and give clothes to those, less privelaged, students. He suggested we bring bread and jam or something.

We met the students and one of the teacher at a time remarkably--for East Timor--close to the appointed hour of 8:00am, and headed off down the road carrying our 80 buns (Manatuto's the local bread, made fresh every night or morning) and water. The walk was beautiful; it was interesting to walk past the same scenery we always fly by in buses or cars, noting the sound of crashing waves, smell of goats and salt water, and other little details such as the twitter and flight of small birds and the slower pace of life across the bridge from Manatuto.

An hour walk brought us over a small rise and to the base of a beach-head where we were to relax for the day and give a few things to students from a poorer area up the hill.

The Manatuto students had fun splashing in the water, posing for pictures on the cliff rocks, walking along the beach, or just "tuur halimar" (sitting-playing). The girls soon busied themselves cooking rice, stewing goat meat, and adding a few vegetables. I still hadn't figured out where the other students were, but contented myself talking with the local villagers who asked if I could get them motors for their little out-rigger fishing boats. I asked them about sails.

After lunch -- our bread was saved for the local kids and the Manatuto students ate rice and goat meat -- the students all gathered around. The Kay Rala teacher made a drawn-out speach about how important it is for the students to share what they have with those less fortunate, and the local teacher made a short consice thank you. Then the young -- I realized they were gradeschoolers -- local students sang local songs and a few Portuguese standards, comporting themselves very well, and singing with gusto. The Manatuto students, not to be out-done, brought out a few guitars and crooned some love songs.

The teacher started talking again, and a few students peeled off the back and headed down the beach. The walk back was thirsty, but enjoyable, as we listened and watched with minor apprehension, the approaching thunderstorm. We got back just after the rains started. An excellent local picnic.


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Beginning a Long Walk Posing Sat And Sat
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Posing Posing Group Pose Playing on the Rocks
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The Gang Tender Father Cooking Dishing Up the Slop
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Local Kids Lined Up Shy
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Posing Resting Posing Me
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Walking Back Manatuto Bluffs One Last Pose