Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wildlife at Tasitolu Peace Park

We were woken not only by the sound of roosters (who remarkably no longer irritate me) but by the even louder sound of an Australian military helicopter taking off before 7am. I thought this a bit rich as it was Sunday after all but I forgot that I am in Timor where people wake before dawn no matter what day of the week it is in order to do chores before the heat of the day kicks in.

Daniel suggested a walk along the beach as he had not done so since he returned the week before as he wanted to share the experience with me. It was another beautiful morning and as we left the property we came across many members of “our” family and other children in the neighbourhood who were just returning from their pasiar (stroll). We talked to a number of women and their children and we asked them about the festa (celebration). They said it was for Lezette who had turned seven. Lezette is the second eldest child of the family next door whose father works in the government department of state administration. He is considered a bit of an ema boot (big/important people) in our community as they easily have the largest house along with one government car and perhaps a personal one.

During our walk we noticed the lack of people who would normally be on the beach. A small fishing boat was moored out at sea replete with a Timorese flag. We passed the houses of two of the malae we know in the area (the couple from Georgia and our AVI colleague and his Canadian partner). We decided it was too early to drop in on them and would do so on our return.

We walked over to Tasi-tolu Peace Park and noticed the large Australian and Malaysian military presence on both sides of the park. A road block had been set up less than a kilometre from the Dili/Liquisa border. As we walked passed the John Paul II memorial house and under the trees where normally animals abound, we noticed numerous shallow graves and became a little concerned as to what these were. We peered into a couple and saw that they were empty. I surmised that these were the spots dug up by investigators looking for the supposed dumped bodies of the tens of people claimed to have been killed in Tasi-tolu and Rai Kotu on 28 April. So far, no bodies have been found and the allegations remain unsubstantiated.


The three lakes were still quite full although the two that join together during the wet season were slowly separating. We immediately noticed the many pelicans on the opposite side of the middle lake set against the backdrop off scared hills from recent burnings (this is the season for burning off). We walked between lakes one and two and I took photos of the pelicans which numbered between fifty and one hundred. As we journeyed between the lakes two pelicans flew so low over us that we could just about touch them. (I love pelicans; they are one of my favourite birds.) We also noticed Malaysian plovers, cormorants, terns and much to our delight, three birds of prey flying gracefully over a hill.


We caught a mikrolete to Landmark supermarket and it felt good to be shopping in our usual haunt. I was particularly happy to see our yummy Chinese vegetarian dumplings in the freezer section but not so happy to see the price at $6 US a pack! (Late last year they were $4.40, by January they were $5.70 and now $6.) I soon noticed other price increases such as toilet paper $3.90 (up from $3.15) and bread $2.20 (up from $2.05). Other items had remained the same but nonetheless certainly not good for me given that I now have no income.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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