Today, we left Dili for good. Quite weird how attached we have become to this place which was our base for more than two weeks. We said our good-byes to Herman and I am curious about what he has to tell us about Dili once the wet season starts.
From Dili it is only a short ride to Cameo Beach, home to the Black Rock Café. Flo met someone at Cyclone in Darwin who told him to go there as his aunt was running it. So we pulled up for a drink but didn’t get a chance to meet the owners. Instead, two kiwi ladies on push bikes pulled up. In their own words “mad malae”. 🙂
It turns out that Jenny knows Herman – Timor is a small place after all. After about an hour, we parted with the lovely company to make our way towards Maliana. Jenny recommended a stop at the fort in Balibó where a new place just opened. We wouldn’t be able to afford the $85 a night but a coffee stop is always possible.
So we continued on our way along the coast next to clear blue water until it was time to stop for lunch at a roadside food shelter. The family there spoke only little English but they had children running around and smiles are really the best way of communicating anyway. Flo found the fish excellent while I had more rice wrapped in banana leaves, this time with a hot chili sauce. We managed to take a couple of picture of the children before we left. A word about portraits: My camera is awesome for what we are doing but it clearly lacks a tele. So if I were to try and take pictures of people, I have to get really close for it to work. That’s just awkward and not how portraits are supposed to be taken. So instead, I ask if I am allowed to take their picture if I am really keen but mostly, I just don’t take many pictures of people. The nicest shots are the ones when your motif doesn’t know it’s in the shot; there is simply no way for me to achieve that.
Soon we came to the turn off towards Maliana. You turn off right at the border to Indonesia and we could have gone over but we had decided to spend one more day in Timor-Leste and cross tomorrow. The road was quite good and Flo had fun riding for once when we hit Balibó. The fort is up on the hill and it really is a lovely place. We sat in the yard in the shade of a tree, having coffee and a juice and just enjoyed ourselves. The staff was lovely and very interested in the motorbike. One of the guys spoke English very well and he translated for the rest of the crew. I sipped my orange juice and looked out over the valley. You can see right up to the border to Indonesia and on to the sea.
Coming back down from the fort, we went to the “Balibó Five” house. It is the house that five journalists used as their base in 1975 when they reported of war ships in the bay on the Indonesian side and the growing conflict. As a means of protection they painted the word “Australia” and the Australian flag onto the outside wall, but all five of them were executed by Indonesian Special Forces in the first wave of the invasion anyway. It is a cruel story and quite intense. Flo read all the signs, we donated a bit and are determined to watch the movie “Balibó” which was shot in 2009 depicting the happenings.
Flo: Over 15k people would eventually be killed directly by the Indonesian forces and supported militias and between 100,000 and 200,000 people died as a consequence of the occupation. Among them was another Australian journalist, Roger East, who was executed on the wharf in Dili while researching the fate of the other five. He, along with Greg Shackelton, Gary Cunningham, Tony Steward, Malcom Rennie and Brian Peters died for a truth that their own governments did not want to be made heard.
Keeping to our own thoughts we headed the rest of the way to Maliana. We shortly checked with Herman and with a website about places to stay and decided to stay in walking distance to the only two restaurants we had seen.
After cooling down a bit, we had dinner in one of the two before having a look at the market. The vendors were packing up already but we still got a good impression of what’s on offer.
Walking back to our guest house, we saw kids bathing in one of the canals. As soon as they realized that Flo was taking pictures, cries of “malae, malae” erupted and to me it looked like Flo would be drenched in a shower of water soon. It must have looked the same to him as he ducked out of the way before the kids were close enough. 🙂