The Fosters East Timor Travel

REPORT ON TIMOR-LESTE VISIT JUNE/JULY 2010

The Fosters embarked on some East Timor travel from 28 June – 9 July they were in Venilale  from 28 June – 1 July, but they also visited some other amazing places in Timor Leste;
Other places stayed – Com, Beloi-Atauro, Maubisse, Dili
Participants – David, Anne & Ellen Foster, Matt Scott

Pre Timor-Leste –

25 June – took Carlos (Venilale Community Development officer visiting Australia) out for a pub meal in West Richmond, his first Aussie pub experience
27 June – tour to Litchfield National Park and jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River. Can highly recommend Wallaroo Eco Tours, travelling in a 19 seater bus. Concluded with prawns & champagne while watching the sunset at East Point, Darwin. Trawled through the thronged Mindil Beach Market afterwards

East Timor Travel –

Arrival in Dili –
• Rentlo (the one closest to the airport) – excellent service. Picked us up at the airport and also at the port on return from Atauro. Former SMKK Venilale student Tina looked after us in the office. Contact: info@rentlocarhire.com
• Timor Aid – good source of books in Tetun (just near the Hotel Turismo). Met AYAD Beth Sergeant who is 2 months into a 12 month placement. Enter from the street one back from the beach road.
• Hotel Turismo – just a shell. A billboard of a lovely-looking new hotel looks promising. Hope it happens
• Phones – recommend buying a starter kit and SIM card from guys on the street. We brought from Australia 5 phones for 4 of us and only one connected to international roaming
• Atauro ferry tickets – definitely need to book in advance, don’t leave it till the last minute. At least a dozen people including Stan & Jenny Brown couldn’t get tickets Friday night or Saturday morning for the Saturday 9 a.m. departure. Tickets were not selling when we booked 5 days in advance but they took our names and the tickets were ready for Friday pickup. They are available from a very anonymous office at the docks.

Venilale –

• Dropped in at Pedro’s (who visited Mansfield in 2006) for a chat on the way through
• Mazzarello Guest House – $15 per person per night. Sarah has a wonderfully large room. Annie & I got the other large room. Luxury. Bit hard to work out when the water would be on. A guest house contact person needs to be more accessible so questions can be asked or arrangements made
• Meetings – 28 June: Sarah had a 4 or 5 hour inconclusive and headache-inducing meeting about the basketball court, but…… 7 July: Sarah rang us in Dili to announce she was ecstatic about the latest meeting outcomes. See next…….
• Basketball court at Bercoli – a detailed and professional quote for US$4000 was put forward at the 7 July meeting. Sarah was very much impressed
• Uai Bua school toilets – the same tenderer also put in a similar quality and competitively priced quote. He has even offered to be site manager. It looks to have potential
• Sewing group – not in operation while we were there but re-started on 7 July. Good news
• Weather – for some reason the weather thought it was the middle of the wet season. Locals were bemused. Wind, rain, mist, mud, water. We couldn’t do the Mt Ariana or Natural Bridge/Waterfall treks or visit Xanana’s hideout cave. For something to do one afternoon we filled up the tank and all the buckets in the Guest House bathrooms with water cascading from the roof
• Hot springs – however, it was delightful wallowing in the springs while it was raining
• AVI Conference – Sarah had to leave about midday 29 June to go to a compulsory conference 30 June – 2 July at Dare so we were with her in Venilale for less than 24 hours, a pity
• Flat tyres – Sarah already had a flat tyre then got another one as she was preparing to leave for Dili. The only repair shop in Venilale was closed. We ended up putting our rental vehicle’s spare tyre on her 4WD and all went to Baucau for repairs there.

Venilale School visits –

Uai Bua school – had a good session especially in Pedro’s Year 9 class, using the blackboard to assist our communication with students. Formal meeting with staff Uai Laco school – visit cancelled because of the flat tyre time limitations. We passed it the next day on the back road from Bercoli to the hot springs. The road near Uai Laco was
extremely challenging

Bercoli – we dropped in unannounced. This is the way to do it as they don’t have time to set up formal meetings. Visited all the classrooms – they have two each of Year 7, 8 & 9 – so a.m. & p.m. shifts are necessary. They are excited about the basketball court – we looked at the site and discussed the state of the computer, printer & generator (not too bad). Excellent discussions in Indonesian with the principal Domingos Amaral and the teachers New & Old – the old police station is mostly empty and the new one appears to be too but I think Maun Morito accesses it unofficially. Let’s hope that Sarah’s $15,000 grant application to turn the old station into a tourist centre bears fruit. The new health centre is still not open. The old one is operating. We were impressed with Venilale’s new ambulance. The new kinder building looks lonely. The old one is still full of cute kids Tourist guide – Joni (full name Joanico) did a good job guiding us when Sarah had left for Dili. He is working on developing anecdotes about each location but needs to learn realistic estimated times for how long it takes to reach places. Paid $15 a day for his services Electricity – the World Cup was being shown on a big screen in the community hall via a satellite linkup. As a result the power was on all night until 6.30 a.m. There was plenty of support in Venilale for Portugal. A disgruntled fan broke some windows when Portugal was bundled out by Spain.

Fr Justin – we enjoyed a very positive meeting. I think that during Easter last year he was rather stressed out. The contrast this time was noticeable. Discussions covered the basketball court, toilets and the inoperative internet. We looked at the computer room with a dozen computers in the Escola do Reino

Library – hasn’t been operating for 5 or 6 months

Toy Library – German volunteer Chiara (spelling?) has a well stocked room in the Escola do Reino. We saw but unfortunately didn’t meet her

Planning for 2011 Mansfield Secondary College excursion – Bercoli is excitedly waiting to host our students. Pedro’s Uai Bua school would also love to have us. The Madres’ accommodation is ideal. Fr Justin also volunteered the Escola do Reino mezzanine floors where some of us stayed in 2005 and the toilets/bathroom adjacent to his office which is now in the small building next door to the Escola. There should be no problem in hiring a troop carrier or smaller 4WD’s. We investigated the Hotel Esplanada in Dili which has all the mod cons plus the attractions of a pool

After Venilale –

• Baucau – Vitoria Cafe is a great place for a drink or a meal

• Com – if you intend staying somewhere other than the Com Beach Resort, Rosa’s Guest House has the cutest looking upstairs room

• Snorkelling – Com, K41, Atauro – all rained out or unsuitable sea conditions. What a pity

• Atauro – the Saturday ferry is good value. Pay $5 for deck class (280 passengers) or $10 for 1st class in AC (20 passengers). Must say we enjoyed the AC. Nema’s at Beloi village was terrific. Barry Hinton is a lovely unassuming host and the food was terrific. The four of us plus Sarah & Boss stayed in a two storey beachside thatched hut with 3 double & 3 single beds. Sarah realised that she really needed this relaxing break. Each hut has a solar panel. Barry was very happy as he had just bought the property outright so he can now expand, e.g. build a new dining room/communal area. He is now contactable by email – boyhinton@yahoo.com.au. His two year old twins were 3 months prem like Ellen and have had malaria 7 times. We rented out bikes and rode down to the bigger village of Vila. Met people from Indigo Shire Friends of Atauro and Ballarat Friends of Ainaro. The community boat leaving for Dili at 5 a.m. was an adventure. It took 2¼ hours just like the big ferry

• Aileu – the Restaurant Zery is a good place to snack on the way to & from Maubisse

• Maubisse – an arduous drive but the views from the pousada were sensational, making the effort completely worthwhile. Fabulous cool weather and virtually no rain. The plan was to be sipping red wine on the pousada veranda while watching the sunset as the FoV meeting in Mansfield was happening 5 July except the FoV date was changed. We fulfilled our part of the bargain but lucky we brought our own red wine as they’d run out

• Tourists – we ran into several tourists so it looks like tourism in Timor-Leste is starting to happen. Some were independent, doing their own thing using local transport, and others were travelling with Eco Discovery tours who can tailor tours to your wishes

Dili –

Traffic is getting ridiculous with traffic jams becoming more frequent. The price of progress. Hotel Dili is central and ideal. It even has wifi in the rooms if you bring your laptop or iPhone Visited Martina Shanahan at the AVI office in the Central Hotel to talk about Sarah’s progress. Left some books bought at Alola for Sarah to pick up on her next Dili trip.
Finally on my third trip got to climb CristoRei – 587 steps – to witness a lovely sunset.

Chega – there was a photographic exhibition which included four photos from Venilale, one of them being of Al and Alannah! Alannah is now heard on YouTube and seen in this exhibition.
Met Mana Teresa’s daughter Candida at Uma Media (Media House) where she works. Quite a coincidence. Met Candida in Venilale last year. Timor-Leste being a small place, coincidences are not uncommon. I had an appointment to see the Uma Media Director to discuss the radio situation in Timor-Leste – I’m the Timor-Leste and Indonesian section editor for the World Radio TV Handbook. Sensational afternoon thunderstorms and torrential rain produced extensively flooded streets. It’s fun wading around Dili. The water came onto the floor of a taxi we caught one evening. Kor Timor is an excellent little handicrafts shop not far from Taibessi Market, with unique items and reasonable prices. I found it harder to bargain at the Tais Market than last year as the sellers seem more unwilling to lower prices.

Timor-Leste 2010 Census – we just missed out on being part of the census as you had to be there on the night of 11 July.

DONATIONS (didn’t keep a record of expenses for most items purchased in Australia)
For Venilale Orphanage
US$100
For Sr Julio –
SIM card & starter kit
For Sewing Group –
200 Made in Venilale sewing labels
For Sarah –
100 plastic pockets
Portuguese – English dictionary
Portuguese phrasebook
For Uai Laco school –
Volleyball net
2 volleyballs

For Uai Bua school –
2 soccer balls
For Sarah to distribute as appropriate –
3 soccer balls
Primary school books, Timor Aid
Primary school books, Alola
3 Primary school skills books
USB stick
Ball pump
4 dictionaries
Thesaurus
For sale at Made in Mansfield –
Tais, bought at Com
Tais, bought at Alola
Tais, bought at Tais Market
Tais, bought at Kor Timor
Tais, bought at Women’s Woven Art
Tais, bought during 2009 trip

We covered Sarah & Boss’ expenses for the Atauro trip

David Foster
11 July 2010

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