Learning to slow down- I have been enjoying extending my patience and trying to abandon any possibility of experiencing frustration in Baucau, some slippery tests include.. Blackouts, all the time, usually while your half way through washing/showering. Or cooking or eating. Or writing a massive email or blog entry.... and gone.
Learning Timor Time- The hilarious lack of timetable, the morning bus to Los Palos will leave at 7,8,9,10 or 2pm as I discovered.
Learning Communication- I am beginning to profess my “Travelers English” this includes much sign language. At times I picture a reflection of myself, lunatic like, explaining a story in gestures and a stammering of English, similar to that of a 3 year old. Im very interested in learning the Timor language of Tetum one day though, it’s very beautiful in its simplicity of description.
Learning that I am a ‘tom boy’- I have been teaching at the local Canossian sisters girl college here in Baucau. My students, mostly older than me enjoy pointing out that my hair is no good! My spoon earring, no good! Hairy legs, no good! Big boots, no good, nose rings no good. I walk like a boy, talk too loud but am lucky to have “beautiful skin and a very pretty girls face” They have have cheekily given me the name, Mana Ellie Bulack (sister ellie crazy) or Bibi Bulack (crazy goat!)
The weeks in Baucau have been laced with Heavenly dinners with friends, Indulgent Timor coffee, Gardening, Painting, Teaching, Swimming, Reading, Walking, Sweating.
NATERRA- Permaculture NGO run by Andrea and Fernando from Maucau, inspirational people.
Andrea has an absolute heart of gold and is a cooking machine!
AFALYCA ART FARM- A place to creat, to workshop teach and learn, Marqi runs this place and is a Super cool and talented dude. Ive been enjoying spending time here, learning guitar, singing, eating drinking coffee and painting of course!
The weekends have been spent away adventuring.
Jaco Island- a few days spent with a fellow traveler Joao from Portugal. To get to Jaco Island it is almost essential to have some form of transport, your own car or motorbike, but we tried our luck at bussing it. Waited from 8am till 2pm for the bus that never came and ended up hopping in the back of a Ute that was heading to Los Palos, destination one. The drivers turned out to be the ministers for education in Timor and we had a delicious lunch of fresh fish and rice as they invited us to open a school with them. We made it to Los Palos very late so stayed at an inspiring Womens co-op with some friends Emily and Meg, drank tuac (palm wine.. paint stripper) and listened to 10 or so local boys serenade the night with some of the most beautiful guitar playing and vocals I’ve heard in a while. Very special. We woke up early and managed to get a lift to Valu beach opposite Jaco Island with an Egyptian UN officer who had nothing better to do. Usually you can get a bus to Tutuwala and then walk the 8km bumpy road to Valu beach. No one is allowed to camp on Jaco Island as it is seen as a sacred island with a strong spiritual presence. We were the only visitors there and could camp on the beach for free (if you ask permission). Caught a boat over to Jaco and we spent a day snorkeling, swimming and lazing about, this place is that tropical oasis you dream of, and the reef is just littered with fluorescent fish and coral. I got scared when Joao saw 2 sharks though so I hopped out after that.. You cant believe how special this place is, Valu beach is a co-operative style run place so all money goes back into the national park, and to the people looking after it.They have a small coffee hut, but be sure to bring food if you go there, the fishermen don’t always feel like fishing so we dined on packaged Mi Goreng for 3 days as that’s all they had, I felt like I was a Uni student again! Ha.
Mt. Matabian- Weekend adventure with Sarah, Skyla and Mark. Matabian is one of the highest mountains in Timor (2315m), and is meant to be an epic climb. We stayed at a guest house in a small village low in the mountain. Matabian played an important role with the resistance during the fight for Timor Leste’s independence, strong Fretlin supporters, a lot of the guerillas fled to these mountains during war times. The villages of Matabian exude this passion for independence, the women and men stand tall but wander so calmly, and live such a beautifully simplistic lifestyle. We awoke at 4am to start the walk with our guide, after about an hour we were to meet the chief of the area and ask if we could climb to the top. Turns out that unfortunately on this day it was time to celebrate a certain saints, something… maybe birthday? Saint hood? It was in Tetun and I couldn’t understand properly, but they were praying, and if we climbed something bad would happen to the village. We were allowed to watch sunrise and we could explore other parts of the mountain but not this specific part. So instead we walked a new route to a lower peak via a school that was built by an Australian organization and through many intimate villages that were only feet accessible. We reached the high peak for brunch and sat with some crazy red mouthed ladies stoned from chewing beetle nut, and adored there carefully manicured permaculture-esq cabbage, corn and bean plantations that lined the cliff face. We gave them some of our lunch and they loaded us up with some cabbage. What a trade! We made it back to Baucau in time for friend Marqis young students art exhibition, and had a bit of a dance with the hyperactive children.