Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Páskua in Baukau: Páskua sesta

I didn’t sleep all that well (usual for me in a new bed), but we woke up early (as in Dili the roosters began at 4am).
Breakfast consisted of freshly baked small Portuguese white paun (bread) rolls which were quite yummy, and which I ate with keiju (cheese, Kraft slices also from Indonesia) and one with vegemite, a small jar of which I had brought with us.
As I don’t like coffee, I had thought ahead and also brought along the little individual packets of ginger and sugar tea from Singapore we enjoy every morning at home. Locally cultivated hudi (bananas), ai-dila (papaya/paw paw) and sabraka-lotuk (mandarins) were also served along with sweet biscuits from Indonesia and another lot of locally made Portuguese biscuits. Upon returning to our hut, we noticed a hudi-hun (banana tree) growing on the property with little tiny weenie hudi just sprouting (photo to come). Daniel remains amazed at how bananas begin their lives...

We proceeded to wile away the day reading, snoozing and taking a midday swim to cool down. We decided to forgo lunch as we knew it would be the same again for dinner, so instead ate a handful of mixed nuts from Singapore purchased in Dili.

The sole remaining guest of the night before departed early that morning and during the course of the afternoon we welcomed three car loads of new visitors: a couple from New Zealand, a couple from Australia and four women who work for the UN. Another carload of UN women stayed in the beach house, a short walk from the four traditional bungalows.

The bungalows were pleasant enough but they weren’t designed very well. For starters they were far too big: they slept five people when most malae come alone, as a couple, or as friends; they could have been half the size which would have left room to build twice as many. Each had its own bathroom which was probably unnecessary and in the concrete floor as decoration were raised shells (raised a little too high) which were incredibly uncomfortable to walk over. The water was scalding hot during the day and freezing cold in the morning and evening due to the pipes exposure to the sun. Then there was the lack of light; if you didn’t open the four shutters and door, you were left in the dark. It did however give one an appreciation of what it is like to live in a traditional Timorese house as they are very dark and oppressive! At least we had a concrete floor and there was no fire burning in the corner!

Comparing the bungalows to the ones on the eco-resort on Atauro Island, it is very clear that the latter were designed with much more planning and an understanding of what malae want. We certainly prefer the ones on Atauro, but the scenery in Osolata is more to our liking (lush as opposed to dry). Despite the bungalows shortcomings in design, we would have highly recommended the place.

Dinner that night was most enjoyable because of the presence of tempe (fermented soya beans). Again we ate etu mutin, kankun, sopa mie and salada but instead of mantolun da’an we were served with stir fried and marinated tempe which was delicious. We ate with our two new New Zealand friends who had only recently arrived in Timor.

The UN women had obviously decided to make this long weekend an enjoyable one, but not the quiet one the rest of us had envisaged. They had purchased wine in Dili and proceeded to drink it while giggling through the night. This went on until the electricity was switched off (like most of the towns in Timor that have electricity, power is only available from 6pm to midnight).
One of the women then got into her UN vehicle which was parked outside our bungalow, and proceeded to rev the engine as she tried (while intoxicated?) to negotiate her way between the coconut palms down onto the dirt road. I wondered where the hell she was going at this time of night, and the next day discovered she was merely driving to the beach house which was a simple five minute walk away! Needless to say I wasn’t very impressed with these young women, particularly as at least one of them liked walking around in nothing more than a skimpy two piece bikini, even when she walked to and from the house to collect her group’s meals!
As in Bali, malae in Timor can be incredibly disrespectful of the local traditional and conservative culture of the people.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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