Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Páskua in Baukau: Baa Osolata

We disembarked the bis in New Town, a settlement that sprung up during Indonesian times and which has nothing very interesting about it for outsiders like us. We jumped on a local mikrolete which took us to the colonial era Old Town and the roundaboud at the bottom of the Pousada de Baukau (or Hotel Flamboyant, its Portuguese era name). You can’t miss the place as it is painted in “Portuguese pink” (flamingo pink) colour! Many other Portuguese buildings remain standing but most such as the Mercardo Municipal (market) are derelict and in need of renovation.

Daniel said that it was a 3km walk down to Osolata, a small fishing village on the sea and as he wasn’t sure that mikrolete went down the paved road we decided to walk it (he had after all, done this once before on a work trip). It soon became apparent that mikrolete number A3 did in fact go to the beach but as we believed the walk was a mere 3km, we decided to keep walking.
As we did, I was surprised to hear the local children shout out to us “photo, photo”. Unlike in Dili where its “dollar, dollar”, the kids of Baukau had obviously been trained by visiting malae to ask for their photo. Perhaps they were also expecting to be paid for it! It soon became very annoying.

The walk down was beautiful as it follows the fresh water spring under enormous Banyan trees and over short waterfalls out to the sea. Importantly the spring irrigates the coconut groves and rice paddies which the local people grown who inhabit the area. The people live in the traditional thatched houses of the Makasai.

The walk seemed to be much longer and unfortunately for me, steeper than I was led to believe. My knee problem (one leg slightly shorter than the other) soon surfaced and after glancing at the time, knew that it must be more than 3km to Osolata. One hour and ten minutes later, we arrived at our destination, hot, sweaty, and exhausted with one angry throbbing knee. We promptly “checked in” to Baukau Beach Bungalows, put our backpacks inside our allotted traditional hut and went for a swim in the warm sea at Pantai Wataboo (an Indonesian name), a beautiful white sand beach right on our doorstep. This area used to be Baukau’s port and the abandoned Portuguese casa alfándega (customs house) fronts the beach. This derelict building could be turned into a magnificent restaurant or holiday apartments.

The scenery was very beautiful and the atmosphere serene. Apart from us, there was only one other guest and we felt pretty much like we had the place to ourselves. The bird calls were numerous and we wondered what they all were. Finally, wildlife!

We ate a typically Timorese lunch: a salada (salad) consisting of alfase (lettuce), pepinu (cucumber) and tomate (tomato) with mantolun da’an (boiled eggs) dowsed in mina (oil), etu mutin (white rice) and kankun (aquatic spinach-like plant). Afterwards, we spent the afternoon lazing about, reading and sleeping.
At sunset, we walked the short distance to the beach and were amazed to see a bright full moon suspended between and framed by two coconut trees to the east. It was a glorious sight. We sat down in the sand and watched the moon slowly make its journey westwards, while to the west the sun slowly sank beneath the horizon leaving in its wake bright orange trails.

Dinner consisted of exactly the same as lunch except we were also served sopa mie (packet noodles loaded with MSG from Indonesia, a bit like two minute noodles in Australia) and a can of coke. Mmmm I thought if this is it for lunch and dinner for four days, I think I might get a little bored. The owners were quite agitated that we had left our windows open while we ate dinner, but we thought nothing much of it.
I went to bed happy as the stresses of Dili had left me already and I felt quite relaxed.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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