Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Journey to Nunumalau, Uatu-Lari

Traveling from Dili to Nunumalau in Uatu-Lari (southeastern part of East Timor) took about 8 hours for aproximately 300 kms. This length suppose to be reach in less than a hour driving from San Diego - Los Angeles in California! 

Roads continue ton deteriorate along all segments with the worst. Right from Fatu Ahi, Dili through Vemase, Baucau - Venilale, Venilale - Ossu. Few improvements from very bad ones is Viqueque - Old Uatu-Lari and to Nunumalau at foot of western part of Mt Matebian. 

These are the most visible changes along the roads after almost six months not traveling in this route. 

Another aspect specific to yesterday was the 20 of May Celebrations. Started from Dili, Manatutu, and Viqueque with all sub districts along this route, such as Metinaro, Vemase, Ossu, Venilale, and Uatu-Lari. Interestingly, CPD RDTL also has celebrations on their own. 

Big change is Uatu-Larinthe barometer for security in East Timor. People now busy working on their rice field for the second season of rice cultivation along the road linking Darabai (Sub-District) to Bebui the river that provides water through the irrigation canal. Driving around 5 pm local time, you will see people coming out from rice fields walking without shoes. Some guiding tractors and their kohe, etc... A visible change!

Of course social issues of rice field conflict persists so long there is no proper judicial system addressing the problem at the core. 

Political tension persists amid of fears of a certain party militants threatening here and there.  However, the nature of people talking to you is more relaxed and they don't to glimpse around for safety before talking to you like in the past, especially in election year of 2007 or before. This another big change.... This new development is strengthened by more political parties having their activities in the sub district lately and slow slow people begin to see more parties more choices although it may take a bit longer to live through it. Of course, one suku, Macadique still dominated by a big party but that to'o is beginning to erode particularly with openness and more parties beginning to make a way in. We hope this episode to continue and keeping debates around programs rather intimidation and personal cult will be very healthy in the coming elections. 

In general, people have passed another psychological barrier and driving and talking in fear. More activities will certainly help. A sub-district that is rich in natural resources (on shore gas, Ricefield, cocunut, livestock, fishery, and many others. Babies are generally healthy, which could be surprised by outsiders. 

So travel warnings these days seem to making up and does jot reflect the true situation. If Uatu-Lari becomes stable, so goes East Timor. We hope this happen and happen soon. The contribution of the sub district to the local economy, district, and national could be significant given it's potential in gas, agriculture, tourism, and braveness of the people. In the Portuguese time, Uatu-Lari was known as Celeiro de Timor (Wharehouse of Timor) because it met the demand of rice for the whole country...... Joao from Nunumalau, Uatu-Lari.

Sent from my iPad

On May 19, 2011, at 10:42 PM, "Timor Adventures" (by way of "ETAN/John M. Miller" ) wrote:

Australian Government’s Travel Advisory is scarring off potential tourists to East Timor

We would like to share our disappointment and frustration with the ongoing portrayal of East Timor as an unsafe travel destination to be approached with a high degree of caution.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Website advises:

·         “you to exercise a high degree of caution in East Timor because of the uncertain security situation and the possibility of civil unrest. The situation could deteriorate without warning.

·         You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent.

·         Violent disturbances, often resulting from minor disputes, can erupt in Dili without notice and escalate quickly.

·         Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.”
Recently a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who were planning to tour East Timor with us in August read this advice and  pulled out of the tour planned for August.

         What worried these potential visitors is The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade statement that as of 16 May 2011

         ‘This advice has been reviewed and reissued. The overall level of the advice has not changed.’
         Running motorcycle tours and engaging in culturally sensitive tourism in East Timor is our modest attempt to assist in the economic development of East Timor.

         What can we say to our customers to overcome this entrenched negative perception of East Timor?

         We would welcome any alternative and ideally officially endorsed update that will help us portray East Timor as the fantastic adventure and cultural tourism destination that it truly is.
Feedback is most welcome.
Dave and Shirley Carlos
Timor Adventures

Further update from Nunumalau,

Two days ago I was sitting in a car at the cape of  the western foot of Mt Matebian around 4pm trying to read news and checking emails. But had to stick to one spot, which otherwise will lose the whole connection. In addition, I was in hurry because a messenger in motor bike told me to go back soon to Knua about 1 km because the local priest, Pe Ferdy from the Philippines with his entourage just arrived from Darabai (new Uatu Lari) and ready to celebrate a mass at the family Cemetery, remembering my father and my admirer, the late Januario Saldanha, a humble and wise man, farmer, illiterate, and father of 12 children (two died in their childhood). He passed away on May 22, 2009 and family and friends gathered to remember him in that afternoon.

Celebrations went well, attended by around 100 people altogether. The whole mass was conducted in Tetum by Pe Ferdy. His homily was also in Tetum and spoke about 30 minutes without text. He was emphasizing the need to leave together, the need to continue praying, and the need to respect each other. He also said, " Hau mai atrasado tanba hau hasoru ema lori mate ida tuir dalan. Sira dada kaixaun ne'e ba sorin, dudu ba oin, dudu ba sorin tan ho dada mai kotuk. Kleur  la halimar. Hau hare sira hakilar ho hananu iha Naueti mas kaixaun nunka ba oin. Hau hare ema ida la reza ida. Née la los. Hau tun tiha hateke sira mara-maran ho tonka kanotak. Depois sira nonok ona ho mate komesa lao ba oin. Sarani sira ida ne'e los. mate tenki reza. Imi bele oho karau 25 mos sei la ajuda barak tanba imi mak han naan, maibe matebian la hetan buat ida. Ninian mak ita halu orasaun ne'e. I was late because on the way I encountered many people holding a cascade for funeral. I was waiting patiently because it took a lot of time. The cascade never moved forward because some are pushing to the other side, then others pulling to the back, then pushing to other side and to the front while singing and shouting in Naueti. However, nobody was praying. I got out of my car, and give a serious and strange look at them. Then the cascade started to move forward. This is not correct. You can sing and shout. But the deceased need our prayers. You can slaughter 25 buffalos for the funeral. This is for you who are alive but not for the deceased." 

The next day, May 22 after talking to friends went to take shower in a small river (belorin) with pristine water (fresh and mildly cold). You can drink straight from the pipe, where residents installed. Took shower and back to Knua, packing then left for old Uatu-Lari for about 12.30 pm. Meeting friends and families talking here and there waiting for lunch, first merenda about 1pm. Then lunch about 4pm. Continue talking and listening to things that are hapening around. Power was on during the night but also on that day. Small bulbs in houses continue lighting. Actually it was seen along the road with lights are all up in the small houses or hatches about mid day. It turned out that power is on and sourced from a generator installed in Aliambata next to gas sheep and transmission line reached Diribu about 10 to 12 Kms from Aliambata toward Nunumalau. 

There were also an escavator, loder, and other road equipments fixing roads from old Uatu-Lari toward Nunumalau and Iralere. 

Suddenly, the clock was showing around 7.30pm. We have to pack and leave because it is dark. Friends asked whether to go straight to Dili. I said, let's see. If we drive and feel not good we may overnight somewhere along the road, be in Vqq or Baucau. After dislodging a friend in Bebui and two others in Darabai, we drove straight to Vqq. Passed Macadique, roads were empty and residents are in their houses. Usually this area is busy with pedestrian walking and youths chatting on the sides of the road. In Besia, there was a need to go to toilet. Asked the driver to stop so we can go for an open toilet in the darkness with houses mo where around. Suddenly, there was flash lights about 3 to 4 coming toward our car. I said to others what is this. Nobody knew and about 100 meters they turned to right and went to the beach while speaking to each other. It turned out that youths actually going to beach for fishing because more chances for catching during the night. Not sure it was true. 

Got to Vqq about 8.40 pm. Then ate plain porridge with papaya leave. checked emails. Some reacting to the posting of the previous day, contending that 300 kms cannot be reached in a hour even with a Ferrari F1. So responded to say thank you for the attention. not sure 300kms equivalent to 186 miles or so cannot be done in an hour with Ferrari F1.

After checking emails, I asked the driver and others whether to overnight or continue travel to Dili. the answer was yes with no hesitation. So we left about 9.25pm driving toward Ossu. Just notice this segment actually is worse than in the previous times and slowed down the travel. Just about to enter Ossu, checked email and responded to another friend's email. It was about 10.40 pm or so. We continued traveling, passing the famous Larigutu then Venilale. Only night buses were passing but no other cars. Almost to enter Baucau city, there was a hylux upside down with wheels toward the sky. Apparently, that was a reckless driver and not sure whether there was any deaths.

Passing Baucau Airport, the speed begin to increase hitting 100 kms per hour. This segment is the first world road for East Timor, while the segments Ossu - Vqq the fourth world and Vqq - Uatu Lari the third world......

Passing Laleia, checked email, there was suggestion to write a diary on this travel from a friend. I responded to him what an enjoyable travel, peaceful, and breezing around this time around between Lalaia and Manatutu. it was 12.45am. Inspired by the suggestion, I begin to enter Facebook account to just record things seen around while travelling and at the same time keeping company of the driver. Signals were full, so was able to log into face book wrote as much as possible. By the time reaching Subao Bot after Beheda, the message was ready to share. Then boom, signal disappeared, forced to share but looks no luck. 

We continue traveling and getting to Dili via Meti Aut after Dolokoan we looked for Pakistani contingent which used to guard on the top hill but it was empty. Then passed JRH's 
Compound straight to Culuhun. By the time we open the gate, it was 2.39 am. 

Safe, secure and said good by to my cousin and driver. What was an interesting journey from the land of muturabu to praca Dili.

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