This is it, I think this is what we came for. Everything is packed, devices charged, breakfast had, and we are back on the road. Still feels right, though as always it took me a moment to fully come to grips with how heavy this behemoth that is us in travel model really is.
Dili was crossed without incident and we left familiar roads on the eastern beach to climb up and across the hill to come down on the other side and the beach road. The potholes don’t hide for long, but on this section they are mere backbreakers anyway (compared to the “rip your panniers off”-craters in the road after Baucau). Better still, traffic is calm and everyone from motorcycle to lorry driver is relaxed and respectful.
We were taking it very slow: to get a feel for the road, to acclimatise and to look out for whatever wonder may lay on the road side. Thus, we made it to Baucau by 12:30, in time for lunch. We went to a Portuguese restaurant recommended by Joris. The food was good if not maybe a bit uptown for us.
The restaurant was down from the road a bit on a terrace overlooking the school below. As we came back, a little group of boys was hard at work inspecting our bike. One of them was frantically trying to remove dusty footprints from the seat with a comically small tissue 🙂
This should become a theme though. The bike with the two of us on it is about as inconspicuous as an ice cream truck playing heavy metal. Shouts of “malae” and “mister, mister” plus a hundred things unrecognised follow our every footstep. Wherever we stop, the bike is like a magnet sucking in everyone within 10m. It turns out the world map is a great conversation starter.
The road further east was substantially worse, but still manageable. Sometimes whole sections were missing or had potholes the size of cars. So 60km/h is the absolute maximum, because at any moment there could be a 10 cm drop in the tarmac. My brand new rear tyre has so much thread left that it touched the crossbar of the luggage rack a couple of time in particularly deep drops.
We pushed on through many villages and ended up at the “end of the road” in Tutuala, 8km from our final destination in the east, Jaco Island. I would not dare to try the road from the plateau to the beach fully loaded and tired after hearing many horror stories about it. Thus, we ended up in the colonial mansion turned hotel on top of the village. It is a little above our price range, but it is the only option up here it seems. At least we have power, reception and a shower. Oh, and marvellous views over the town and the east to west seaside cliffs.