Thursday, 15 December 2011


Los Palos and leaving Timor leste..
What do you write about a place that has made your heart flutter, stimulated your mind, widened your eyes, and given your feet wings? A place that became my home. Where there was a friend in most places, or a friend of a friend to meet. Well i am a little lost for words, and anything that i write will just sound like a big pink fluff ball, i apologise in advance.

Living Los Palos
This experience was about the people. The place is beautiful, but for me the people are what made me fall for this place.
CTKDS is a womens cooperative in Los Palos, they do a range of activities with the community. there is a womens weaving group and shop selling locally made tais. They arrange community meetings, hold functions, practice permaculture, and teach english to local school students weekly.
This is a great place where a lot of ideas are constantly being tossed around, thrown up, pushed out broardened on, and hopefully in the near future a big sustainability community center will be built! the plans look amazing! CTKDS has ties with another locally formed community group called Veru-pupuk which means grassroots in fataluku ( the local dialect). The men and women involved in this are amazing, very forward thinking and really want a revolution! Pro Fretelin and Timor Leste independence!

It was beautiful to hang out with such passionate people.
However it did become apparent that in a place with such little resources, it can be really REALLY impossible to get anything off the ground. There are a lot of cultural aesthetics and rules that can make it really difficult and confusing to work with.
In the first month of travelling timor leste i was beginning to think that i somewhat understood the culture, the weird mash of catholicism and animist beliefs, or at least was beginning to have a grasp of.
Now i realise that i will never understand this place it changes day to day, district to district, family to family, and i shouldnt try to, it is beautiful in what it is, and observing, respecting, abiding is all i can do.

While staying here with dibby Deb and mana Meg a lot of fun was had. Meg is a champion, and hanging out with her was a pleasure, long conversations, and a very active passionate beautiful soul. We had a few days of jewellery making, where i shared some knot tying techniques and after a week a lot of people were walking around wearing seemingly latin american stone necelaces, then we experimented with tais material to make some funky jewellery. We worked in the garden, split bamboo in an attempt to make blinds, and painted some great table tops for the verandah. Things moved really slowly though, and if i was to volunteer again, i would want to come in when an established project was being undertaken.  

Our security guards, they wouldnt let meg and i sleep at home by ourselves, so they pulled out mats on the verendah, such beautiful boys!

 The beautiful Women of CTKDS, from left Tia-Regina (my 2nd mother), Ona (chefi chef), meg(chicken tractor), Mana Elsa(warrior) and Amelia (hauuu laaa coiii!) the front garden was in desperate need of some tender loving care so they got to it with the katana in the stinking hot sun, go women!
 Beautiful Dibby Deb, wonderful woman that runs the CTKDS development program

Natural dying of local cottons is practiced here and the coulours you can get out of the plants are just amazing, using not only plants, but spices, mud, mmmmmm they looked beautiful.
 One of the table tops we painted together.




Grass roots, the boys of this place kept my ears dancing for days on end. We could share little conversation, but cards, music, creative activities, fishing, and dancing are great mediators, by the end i feel like i have friends and smiles that i will never forget. 
My last weeks in Timor were spent in Los Palos, creating, conversating and conceptualising. Observing the loving and sharing nature of the people and having it also gifted to me.
Stories of the Lautem areas history were told, and i found one in particular very interesting, it is about water.

This story was told by Jardine a boy that lived next door who i had many taikwando fights with. He was great company and gave me the nick name mana hellicopter!! because the word ellie in fataluku means hellicopter, and whenever he sees one he syas that it will be me checking up on him.
he is pretty good with english but the story had to be retold to me by daniella who can speak both tetun and english( she is from portugal) 

The lady in the lake
It is said that the Lautem region never had water, and that the women had to travel large distances to bring water back to their families.One lady had a dog that returned sometimes wet in the afternoons. After this occurring several times the lady decided to follow the dog to find the place that he was getting wet. The dog led her to a lake, where she met a man from the lake. They fell in love and she entered the water never to return to her village. Because of this sacrafice of her life, a giant wave evolved and washed water up rivers into the lautem region. This created water for many regions, and brought the lulic crocodile to regions it had never been before..
Street graffiti by 5 different Los Palos artists in main street. 
 the old galaxy palace!
Edi chillin at Veru-pupuk
 Musica Barrak for everyone!
IKU an amazing artist, that does some dam funky paintings around the place and sneaky little sketches that he hides in corners. great to work alongside creating.. iku is funnny.

Juvi to the left pulling a face, one of the hardest workers i have met, will always help you with anything, has a real beauty about him. Not strange to see him carrying half a coconut tree down the street for a friends new house construction, crazy!
Dhomi, i wont forget your smiles, your music, your presence.
 Sennyl! lala pulsa, which means spider, because they are everywhere all around the world, this boy is special!
"disculpa! hau la hatenne tetun!"
 The guys playing music (every night occurence) they were entertaining us as i painted a mural at veru-pupuk.
One tradition that these boys carry out is beautiful. if you are leaving, whether it be for 3 years 3 months 3 days, they will stay up all night on your last night until you hop the bus, or car ride out of town, playing music and singing, drinking rediculous amounts of coffee and smoking a truck full of cigarettes. 
picture the best jamming session you've ever had and then times it by one thousand!
 This photo just makes me laugh. the boys crazy nature, but cultural obsession with catholicism. (he is standing outside a church)
on a mission to go fishin'
Last night mischief, music, halimar

There are so many different beautiful experiences that happened to me in Timor Leste, and i think spending my last few weeks in Los Palos really redifined my love for this country and the people, they have gone through so much to gain independence, and still are.
They survive with a government now that to me has silly expectations and abstract ways at getting things done, they think big buisness and big money, but i dont think that this brings happiness let alone evenly spread wealth. They put up powerpoles to the smallest of villages, but the roads are almost inexcessible in points. These people have lived for centuries without power, but they cant live without food, the roads need to be a maintained. They built a hideous plaza in the centre of dili kicking many locals off their land, the plaza aimed toward tourists and expats, but what happens when the UN leave next year.
 Work possibilities and education seem to be only available in dili, an overpopulated unhealthy city, and many are forced to leave their families to find work. There are so many other problems that i have, and that others share about development in timor, but i dont want to rant on.

There are so many funny little things, big moments or small that i will remember.
Toward the end i could half understand (maybe less than half) a conversation in tetun, and say small replies, which i found really great as ive nerver really tried to learn a language before. 
 the generosity, sharing everything
fishing, cooking, going to the market, playing, singing, speaking in broken english/ tetun.

So to finish i will write a song that the boys of Los Palos consistently played since i met them, and insisted upon my knowledge of the words so i could sing along with them.

Buka o nia Klamar
Hau buka haluha tanis
Hau buka haluha triste
Hau buka haluha kilat nia lian
Maibe susar haluho o

O nia mundu mak ne'e
Hadomi deit bele senti
Lalehan no tasi sei toba diskansa
Tamba o mak rai nain lalehan
Dame lakon nia sentidu
Loron lakon nia manas
Mundu tanis buka lalehan
Hau sei buka o nia klamar
Kalan lakon nia fitun
Fulon lakon nia naroman
Mundu tanis buka lalehan
Hau sei buka o nia klamar
Hau sei buka o nia klamar
Hodi hein o nia lelata
Rai naben mos sei la oho
Hau sei buka o nia klamar...


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Melodies from the air to the earth.

The build up to the wet season was dense and humid, slow moving and calming. However the seasons have begun to change here with confusion and unpredictability, the rains have begun to fall, and my travels and thought processes, flip, change, flow and stutter somewhat like a game of Tetris. A very easy game of Tetris though, with no wall at the top stopping you from continuing the game.

It may have been because my volunteering at the Canossian Sisters Womens Colledge had finished, that friends id made were going home, or just because my body was craving a change, but for a week there I experienced a small bout of travel anxiety. It is strange this feeling, but I put it down to a quote I read in that week… “You are free, that is why you are lost” Franz Kafka. Ahhhh yes other people have felt this feeling, im not alone. Following this i flipped a coin and the answer was to go to Los Palos for the week.

NOTE: This anxiety could also have been caused by an evil monster of a hangover, drinking has been an irregularity over the last few months, so my brain aint used to it. My housemate Sarahs going away Sesta Festa Halloween style was  Friday night, bombarded with mask making, dancing, singing, bread fruit eating, slipping, loving, two step one step stumbling, bottle breaking, back yard barfing, goodbye breakfast. So sad to say goodbye to you Sarah, so I won’t, ill wave and say ‘hello sarah, hellloooooo’
Some of the Baucau G-Mata (family)

LOS PALOS- The times I’ve spent here on stop overs or small visits have always had an impact, and I know that this place and the people here, will not ever leave my mind. The Baukau family seems very intertwined with the Los Palos crew, and it is such a gift to stay at the Womens centre with Dibby Deb, Meg, Emily and Ona. The evenings washed down with music from some local boys, serenading our surrounds and putting a smile on your face from ear to ear. You cant even describe the feeling, and the songs, they are just so beautiful… But its beginning to get frusterating, the longer your in a place, the more you want to be able to communicate with the people, and yes you can establish a friendship and a general knowledge that these are good people, interesting, passionate, artistic people, but oh to have a conversation. Ha. This makes me certain that one day I will come back and spend an extended amount of time here.

It is time for Emily to head back to Australia so they had a going away festa at the house Sunday night, this night was full groove, and I made the good choice to stay away from the palm wine, but ended up dancing till sunrise to both live music and poppy Timor music. Traditionally here if a guy asks you to dance you cant say no, and the dance is a casual two step one step routine, up close and personal, and can get a little bit intense when they decided to danca kisomba. Very funny, especially considering the height difference between me and most Timorese men. 

After rest and recouperation, Anche pops over and Daniela, Marqi and I decided to go fishing for the day to a large lake close to Tutuala with her and her brothers. We ride the Motorbikes for an hour or so to a small village on the outskirts of the lake and pick up our bamboo fishing lines and worms. Greeted by the village people with surprise, we assume that not many Malai travel to this side of the lake.

We travel on till the marshes are apparent and silver water masks the mud, pull up, and head down to the edge of the lake. I stopped. The others entered. Surely there must be crocodiles in here I thought to myself, whilst swapping nervous glances with Daniella. I enter slowly, respecting this beautiful place, it is Lulik which means sacred, and we are not to talk about the place whilst there, no comments, opinions, questions, just BE. This is hard to do when your chest deep in dark water surrounded by sunken trees, reeds and……….? 
Of course when your not meant to think about crocodiles, big, hungry, sneaky crocodiles, the only thing in your mind is “crocodile, fuck there has to be crocs in here, this is ridiculous… oh but its so beautiful, im really happy to be here, it is so special.. but ohhhhhhh shitttt what was that shadow in the water” the only times that I wasn’t thinking about them, I may have been distracted by a fisherman talking or a bird flying by, I managed to catch a fish, so I caught two fish that day and was very happy. All in all we went home with about 25 fish, and gutterd, fried em and put em on a plate, nom nom nom.

A Few more days in Los Palos and the decision be made that I am going to come here for a couple of weeks and start some tais- traditional cloth- jewellery making workshops.
To continue on with the subject of Fishing, Daniela, Anche and I decided to head to Com for the weekend as they had the East Timor fishing competition on, we spent a couple of days chilling out, sleeping under the stars, and dining on festival food, as our friend is one of the organizers, good to have connections. Com is a Beautiful place but you can really see that tourism is going to have a large impact here, this is the first place in Timor that I have been approached to by something as walking down the beach. 

So this week be dedicated to blogging, diary filling, bag packing, and a bit of research. It will be so sad to leave Baucau, but the time feels rite and im looking forward to hanging out in Los Palos getting creative and improving my poorly developed Tetun.