As the former Portuguese colony and formerly Indonesian occupied territory Timor Leste is the eastern part of the eastern (relative to Indonesia) island ‘Timor’, it is called Timor (‘east’ in Indonesian) Leste (from ‘east’ in Portuguese). Got it?
Timor-Leste the country were Guerrilla fighters hiding in the jungle for 24 years are now the government; that had been caught between global politics for 400 years; which was loosing 50% of population over and over by never starting a conflict themselves. But now the future looks bright with democracy, earnings from oil, best organic Arabic coffee beans, young and enthusiastic population, world class corals and fish.
All the best young to this country!
Days spent watching a single view, a feverish dream, an impressionist painting. The posts of our veranda have become the heavily gilded frame on this ever changing Pierre Guillaume. Calls to shoo birds away from the precious grains, emphasis added with clanging bamboo halves controlled by long strings from the shed, shared with a patient cow. The calls change in voice from female to male, the woman primal, the man angry, clearly the bounty of this harvest matters. The ceremonial gamelan music drifts from temple to temple adding dimensions and depth. A singing voice, a distant scooter, a loudspeaker announcing lottery numbers? Now a whoosh, whoosh as the farmer patrols the field with a long white plastic vane on a bamboo pole, less subtle then the sweeping, always sweeping, Balinese broom somewhere, if only to separate the wilted white and yellow flowers from the fresh, dotting the paths and greens. In the background the volcanic cones of Gunung Agung and two lesser siblings appear or dissolve into the clouds as if the paint refuses to dry. As the sky darkens the lights of Pura Besakih, holiest of temples of this isle, twinkle, just a degree or two below the first specs on the Southern firmament. Another day, another aspect as the sky turns from grey to black, a thunder clap like the growling eruption of a volcano. Freeze frame! The white birds, the rice stalks, the palm trees, the cow in the shed, the farmers, the bamboo clangers, the large drop off the tip of the banana leaf, the black butterfly, the pagoda on the hill crest. Gusts of wind, rain drops on the flooded rice fields, the gurgle of the overflows, sounds to soothe you into another round of sleep, the frame dissolves into your dream.
Oh, hail thee wondrous traveler in tennis shoes and with quizzical look! You cannot be trusted to scale this 1700 m pile of ash and pumice on your own. There may be spewing of poisonous fumes at times (not that we would know when and where) and trails to be missed (if you can’t find the elephant’s path through a corn field). In addition there is much to learn about geology (it was 1973 … wait let me check the sign) and the local economy (unfortunately we do have to charge a small guide fee). If in the end you feel amazed by the landscape but let down by our services don’t despair for you have provided income and exercise to our youth! Wait, is that a volcano rumbling or did you ingest something funny today?