Friday, 23 September 2011

Tour De Timor

“Viva Timor Leste”
The race begins and my volunteer position is THE LAST CAR, passenger not driver, phew!
The last of the last of the last, and this became more and more embedded in my mind as we slowly followed the bike riders 600km around the island.
Day 1. Dili to Laclubar.
Lost straight away, the position of last car seems like a simple job, until of course you lose sight of the car infront of you, and find yourself bamboozled in a city on a Sunday where you don’t know if the crowds are walking home from watching the race or going home from church. In our case they were going home from church, but somehow we managed to bump into the race after an hour, we just went the wrong way. Lucky. This 85km stretch was treacherous the roads are awesomely pot holed and splintered with pig, chicken, rooster, goat, buffalo, cow obstacles. FUN, I love piglets.
After this day, I seriously question the sanity of the organizers of this race and those competing in it, the landscape surrounding the race however makes it worthwhile.
A tour de torture set in an oasis.
Day 2. Laclubar to Beacu.
What a MASSIVE day. 12 hours in the car to cross 130km. impossible! Even after 12 hours or more of a passing parade there are still locals cheering us on in an overly excited manner as we pass through their villages. Yelling “Viva Timor Leste!” waving and yelling “malai” as if I was the white person they had ever seen. I come to the realisation today that this would be an extremely rare and unimaginable sight for the villagers, a convoy of 100 cars and 450 bicycled riders, id say it would have stretched for 40km or more through the mountains. It felt like we were the circus coming to town.. We were. My car comrades and new friends, Clint (Aus) Alvero and Bernardo (Portuguese) and I were greeted at camp with a bottle of champagne on the hush, and then discovered our abandoned, bullet hole decorated cement casa to sleep in for the night as all tent spots were taken.
Day 3.Beacu to Lliomar.
Hangover, 5am wakeup. Shorter car trip today 8 hours, and we arrived at the camp ground in sunlight WOOOO. The trip here and destination was truly beautiful. The villages compiled of raised bamboo housing and palm thatched roofs, swarming with uniquely charactered children and animals, is giving me a saw jaw, I don’t think I have ever smiled this much in my life.
Day 4.Lliomar to Com.
On camp site crew, a well deserved break from last car, helped out with merchandising, went for swims and wandered around Com, this place is truly special, im scared to see what it will be like in 5-10 years from now when tourism takes over.
Day 5.Com to Manatutu.
1st water station. Handing out water to the thirsty insane bike riders. You can smell the sweat on the wind before you even see them, it overpowers the smell of burning plastic (the waste disposal scheme imposed in Timor Leste) Today was a long coastal drive, that I got to actually drive some of, this was fun! 4WD action time, woooo.  
Day 6.Manatutu to Dili.
Arrive in Dili, abort the last car position and came with the morning crew to help direct the bikers to the bike drop point at the finish line. The crowds were CRAZEH!!! Bells bells bells, screaming, pushing, high energy. Sweaty back. Sweaty everything, id forgotten how hot Dili is. All bikers arrived and the closing ceremony was to follow, at 4pm, presentations of awards, drinks and dinner. Me new mate Donna and I take advantage of this and drink a lot. I think the booze may have affected me as I vaguely remember dancing and singing into a microphone at a pub later on. Oh no.
Overall: This experience was an absolute adventure, an 800 people convoy travelling around a 3rd world new nation, mountain biking for peace. What an interesting concept. All in all, it achieves its goal of letting those villages we pass realise that we know they exist and we care for them and their country. However at the same time, it feels a little ambiguous, to travel so quickly, stay a night, leave a couple hundred tone of rubbish wherever we went, and a shy passing wave. I just don’t really understand the whole situation in Timor Leste yet to whole heartedly compile my own view on this. The people seem to be really craving a western lifestyle, and this scares me. There is still so much to learn about this place.

Timor Leste

East of east
I arrive at the backpackers hot and sweaty as expected, greeted with “malai malai” from the children that swarmed to greet me, guessing that malai, was similar to the term gringo in Latin America, and yes later finding out it means cream or white.
I was overwhelmed at the amount of vehicles that display the sticker UN or some other type of aid organization, the majority of cars here are either driven by expats or are local taxis/ micro lets (city busses)
The first people that I have a conversation with on this adventure I discover have all arrived here via the overland route. A couple from Switzerland, France and another Swiss man. The couple have rode bicycles all the way from Switzerland to here and are now in Australia, this journey took them 2 years, learning they ventured through Iran, the stans and china. I was blown away! My first night in Timor and immediately drawn in wide eyed and jaw dropped till the early hours listening to stories and getting advice from these highly inspiring people. It was great to hear that the overland journey is still well and truly alive and well in all its glory!
Dili itself is an interesting city, very dusty and overcrowded, rubbish everywhere, so much so that it becomes a part of the natural environment. This place is so full of character. I rode a bicycle around the city for the day went to Cristo Rei (Jesus statue) at the tip of the coast and walked up to view the escarpment.
Arte Moris, is a local organization run by Timorese guys. It is one of the most interesting art houses I have been to! These boys live in an old building, they create, teach and experiment with art everyday, live and breathe art, and are all extremely talented. Walking around the place there are sculptures everywhere created out of recycled materials, bamboo, and mangrove roots. Im in heaven ( I think I will be saying this a lot throughout this blog) All the guys here have dreadlocks and I now realize that I am distinguished as an artist because of this, not a day goes by without someone approaching me and saying “Arte Moris”

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Up and away

So the travels have begun, in a different land that is.
I found it very hard to leave Australia, all of my beautiful family and friends and the many adventures that seem to continually unfold when im there, not only adventures but artistic endevours! so many things to do! And the land, ohhhhhh beautiful special places and people!

I am content concentrating and enjoying living in the moment and taking things in one at a time, but often when i sit and observe, think, and make mental lists, i have an overwhelming energy to be doing and learning 100 things at once which is great, but impossible.
I want to be a jack of all trades, and a master of many. And to do so, this takes time.

So travelling.... this will be interesting.
This pilgrimage i am about to embark on, has no set time length or destination, it is purely about being on the road. And the things that you learn when your on the road, they are endless and suprising.
I am looking forward to accidentally falling into these lessons. Not knowing when or where or what i am going to learn, discover, appreciate.

I left all expectations under my pillow in Coffs harbour, they are much to heavy to carry.
But took with me 13kg of belongings, as well as two feet to get around, open eyes to see all the pot holes, interested mind to keep me entertained, well looked after hands to touch, draw, sculpt and write to you guys so you can enjoy my experiences via the interweb!
I dont know how often ill be writing, im not the kind of person who is going to tell you of every meal i ate and every km i crossed. i will keep it special, the entertaining stories, and helpful hints incase any of you chickens decide to come along for the ride!
Much love to all and thankyou for supporting me on my trip.