New beginnings and different endings

For as long as we have clouds, sunshine
We will have sunsets and sunrise
For as long as we have early morning risers and star gazers
We will have an appreciation of infinite possibilities.

For as long as we have the crimson, gold
and pink delicacy of a tropical sunset
The azure, green and gold where jungle, sun and sea meet
We will have an appreciation of chance creation

For as long as we have the misty blue haze of mountain silhouettes
and sparkling fire water
The piercing sparkle, razzle dazzle rays and invigorating warmth of an airborne sun
We will have an appreciation of new beginnings and different endings

For as long as we have an appreciation of sunsets and sunrises
We will have an appreciation of infinite possibilities

Enjoying the feel of things

I’m enjoying the feel of things at the moment. I’m not sure if its extra sensitiveness in my hands, or particular focus on the here and now. Maybe its the awareness of an impending departure. I’m not sure, I’m just enjoying the feel of things at the moment.

Enjoying the feel of things

The rough yet soft touch of freshly washed, low-thread count cotton sheets pulled tight every morning
The tiny, rapid percussion of air on my ear drums as the rain beats the roof
The goose-bump inducing caress of a fan propelled breeze over my belly

The contrast between the worn-out smoothness and the grain in the hewn boat boards on my bare feet
The unexpected splash of fine sea spray from the bow on my face and hands,
The heaviness of dew droplets clinging to my eyebrows and eyelashes, the sea trying to close my eyes

The soothing, swaying displacement of fluid in my ears and brain from the swing of the hammock
The inconsistent, gentle buffeting of the storm breeze, tugging at clothes as if demanding attention
The warm play of light through clouds and trees on insistent, relaxed, thankful, closed eyelids

The thick, creamyness of the air in my nostrils in the afternoon
The aroma of impending rain, the fresh bite of cleanliness shortly after and eventually the breathy sigh of the land as it accepts the water into its body

The smooth and deep feel of freshly washed, high-thread count cotton sheets pulled loose at night
The trusting heaviness of a head on my chest
The tickle of tussled hair in my nose

A lil present for Charlotte

It started as a simple map but got a bit cluttered when I added all the trips!
East and West Map yet to come! East Map includes the Maliana Hot Springs trip with dad. The trips are not actually in chronological order, just drawing order!
Trip 1 – To Turiscai and back in the rain. Read the blog post here.
Trip 2 – To Hatu-Builico (oops, wrong name on map!) at night. Climbed Ramalau. Read the blog post here.
Trip 3 – Haha, Whoops! isn’t there something about bad luck and 3’s? Great attention to detail Damian.
Trip 4 – The Energy Needs Assessment with Renato on the back of the bike. Read the blog post here.
Trip 5 & 6 – Two seperate trips to Liqudoe, one when it was red/yellow & dry and once when it was green!
Trip 7 – This weekends planned trip to Hatu-Builico and beyond. Going to be remote! Post soon.

Timor-Leste Values

This report contains probably the most useful information you could have if your working or planning to work in TL.

The report is a detailed assessment of the values of the Timorese people. Through a series of interviews and questionnaires they assess 1,200 people to determine what it is that will motivate them and which values will be aligned to and assist ‘development’.

Unfortunately, I do not necessarily agree with the analysis, as ‘development’ is defined strictly in terms of western capitalistic and materialistic values. It seems ironic to me that they bothered to do the study only to identify what values would be problematic and may need to be circumvented, changed or kept under careful and watchful scrutiny in order to conduct successful ‘development’ of western values. Surely the analysis should have been centred on answering the question ‘How do we develop Timor so that what the Timorese value is maximised?’

Regardless, the results are very useful and provide significant insight into why Timorese act or behave the way they do in some situations. Bearing in mind that this is a generalisation or stereotyping exercise based on a a nationally representative sample and supported by additional interviews with teachers, academics and senior social figures.

I strongly encourage all foreigners working in Timor to read this report and keep these Timorese values in mind when you think of ‘development’.


It was Timorese Falintil (rememberance) day on 30th August and they get 2 days off to celebrate. That was Tuesday and Wednesday so of course nobody was coming to work Monday. Mega long weekend – just what is needed to make the trek to Jaco Island, one of the few national parks in TL.
Titarala – Far East Timor Island

Due to work departure was delayed until Sunday afternoon, by which time the group had been whittled down to just 3 – Tanya, Marta and myself. The girls had hired a huge Toyota Land-Cruiser Troop Carrier, so I decided to give the Bike a break and ride with them on the bench seat. I took the tent and they put a mattress in the back of the truck. Tanya loved that truck.

We had dinner in Baucau and ran into Will from Mercy Corp. Timor is a small place. Dad had tipped me off he stayed with the Managin Director of Moris Rasik’s nephew the night before. We met him and said hello then headed down the beach to camp. Nice spot but a bit creepy arriving in the dark and whilst tramping around the lagoon (albeit very small) stumbling across a half eaten crocodile warning sign. Swimming the next day was limited to the shallows.

Found this sign while collecting fire-wood in the dark

The Baucau camping spot at sunrise

 We got up early and headed to Jaco the next day. It is on the South Easten tip of Timor Island, about as far as you can go and a nasty decent from Tituala down to Tituala beach. We ran into dad coming the other way and a large group of school girls on the way to Tituala, and gave them all a lift. They hardly stopped screaming  in excitement the whole way.

Teke bulak ten barak
Tituala beach was nice but the guest houses were seriously under-stocked. That night was the high light of the trip though with a nice big fire on the beach, a small but friendly and understated global group, some local rice wine, cheap $3 bottle of whisky and the sound of the waves to lull us to sleep (and high tide to wake some of us up!)

Morning after
 The next day we were out at the island early and I was cooked by about 10am! Bloody Portuguese girls didn’t put sunscreen on once and roasted themselves like very attractive chestnuts, at the end of the day they were still a very toasty caramel brown.The coral was good but I think I managed to pick up a sinus problem in an hour or so of snorkelling and was knocked for six for the rest of the day (and week).

Sea Urchin on Titarala beach

We headed back towards Com that night and arrived just before it got dark. From there the next day we went onto Baucau very early and then turned off to go to Ossu, over the spine and very close to the south coast, to check out a waterfall. We were pushing it and trying to cram a lot into the weekend, but Ossu was nice and we only (just) missed the closing time of the car hire on the return back to Dili

A market stop on the way back to Baucau

On top of the The Spine of Timor on the way to Ossu

It was an action packed trip, with lots of driving .but it was a great chance to gaze out the window at some of the spectacular scenery for a change.

Timorese Wedding!

No it wasn’t mine! 
Went with Renato down to his friends Timorese wedding with Paolo. It was located abiout 30 min out of town in Tibar. Big calico tent of sorts was erected at the back of the families house with the dirt semi cleared and ‘watered’ to keep the dust from the dancing down.  I was surprised to note though that the dancing is 100% formal, all night. They love to dance, but it is latin/portuguese inspired dancing – I think the last time I danced like that was in high-school. And the dancing had rules set by the suco chief – no talking while dancing and no dancing outside the official area! 
It was a complicated social occassion with maybe 400 people in attendance, seats set like a grand-stand around the dance floor. It was pretty cool setup actually, but the rocks didn’t make the dancing any easier – and some of those poor girls were in 2 inch heels that they weren’t used to! 
I asked one girl for a dance, I don’t think she realised how tall I was – she was lucky to reach my chest. Combined with the fact I was wearing my riding boots, and was only 1 of 2 foreigners there she nearly died of embarrassment before she went and sat back down before the song had even finished! After that none of the girls would dance with us! :O

Ainaro & Manufahi Field Trip

In late August I managed to head out with a translator for my first field trip – an Energy Needs Assessment.

Number of clients interviewed:
Languages spoken:
Number of Centre Meetings:
Distance Travelled:
Number of Districts:
Days on the road:
Number of Sucos:
Total Cost:

Centre Meeting in Ainaro
The bike in Same
The assessment went ok. We we underwhelmed by the lack of energy access and the difficulty of explaining how solar lighting systems work and their benefits to people who have hardly seen electricity in operation. In hindisght, I really should have taken a few products along, I didn’t because I was worried about tainting the markets perception of the products available.

Renato (my translator) and his aunt and cuzs in Same

It was so cold in the mountains in Maubesse we got the open fire going!
At the end of a very long, dusty and tiring week, the assessment was a sad success I guess – not one of the 96 clients interviewed had access to grid electricity. 10 had solar panels. On average 70% want solar power of some description. 


Hit the road with dad (almost literally) and a good friend, Maria last weekend.

We headed from Dili to Maliana via the ErMera (inland) road. I had heard that the coast road was better and quicker, but having taken that road a few times before I was keen to take the inland route, plus its typically more fun and more spectacular riding in the mountains.

Would never have thought dad would become a mobile phone addict
Over the mountains, over the bridge and over-night

It was certainly more challenging. The ‘road’ deteriorated drastically passed Er Mera, with some big wash-outs and steep, rocky descents. Not exactly what we were hoping for and certainly not what dad was ready for. After about 6 hrs on the road we were apparently still 1.5 hrs from Maliana, even though we had been told for the last 1.5 hrs that we were 1.5 hrs from Maliana.

So we stayed the night outside of Maliana at a random house. Thankfully the local kiosk was well stocked and I under the watch-full gaze of mum (everybody here calls the matrons of the house-hold ‘mum’) I cooked up a feed of noodles, tuna and egg polished off with timor coffee. Brought back memories of Kayaking in Indonesia, although sleeping on the beach was more comfortable than the concrete floor we had that night. Maria was a trooper and didn’t complain once, even though from Hatolia I was minus a footpeg and a toolkit, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

The family that put us up for the night – Patricio Bereati in Cailaco.
Dad showing of pictures of Charlotte
Wisteria is everywhere here and its beautiful.

Next day we headed into Maliana and onto the Marobo Hot Springs, after taking notes of stores that sell solar cells and touching base with the local Moris Rasik staff. We took confidence in repetitive statements that it was only an hour to Morobo and that the road was ‘ok’. After about 1.5 hrs we started walking because the road would have been nearly impossible to get back up. After a 30 min walk we arrived and it was worth it.

Marobo hot and smelly springs

We didn’t get back onto the main road until nearly 3pm Sunday. Exhausted and relaxed, after about 15min on the road we determined the safest and best thing to do was to ride back to Dili on Monday morning. Dad would continue onto Suai after he recovered a little. So we stayed at a beautiful place in Bobonaro, where they kicked some kids out of a room for us. Had a wonderful conversation with young guy from the village who showed us around town. Bobonaro is a different place, their is a great sense of pride in the homes their, its very beautiful.

We zoomed backed to Dili the next morning on the comparatively heavenly coast road via Balibo. Had hot buns, timor coffee and bananas for breakfast. Beat the hell out of working.

Kiosk kids in Balibo – Fresh warm buns, timor kopi and bananas for breakfast. Brilliant.

Every weekend is supposed to be an adventure, right?

What I wish I could achieve

While i’m here in TL I’m supposed to be developing a distribution and sales network for renewable energy technology (RET). An example what I wish I could develop is contained in this article.

The reality is that these programs are waaaaaaaay more advanced and sophisticated than what I could even wish to develop here in TL.

Its kinda sad actually. Guess it certainly ain’t going to happen if I blog instead of doing work.