Standing on the seashore in Dili, Atauro Island looks closer than the two hours it takes to get there by ferry. Since I arrived in November, I'd wanted to visit this island -- seeing it for the first time from the front gate of the hotel I stayed in for a couple of weeks.
I got my chance on Saturday to venture across the water.
As soon as the ferry gets close enough to shore, you feel you've stepped back in time. Small houses with palm roofs and bamboo sides stretch along the beach -- under the shade of graceful trees. When the ferry docks, the first thing you see as you walk on shore is the gigantic tree -- that perhaps a hundred people could stand under. It is quite crowded under there this particular hot day. Under the tree -- the temperature is much more reasonable -- the ocean breeze helps, too.
Turn right past the tree -- and you walk through the covered market -- almost no vegetables in sight -- I'm told the diet here is strictly fish. What you see in this market is dried fish -- pink fish, blue fish -- and lots and lots of sqiud -- hanging from strings.
If you want veggies, keep walking through the market and you can't miss Nemas -- a place run by an Australian guy named Barry. Delicious buffet-style mainly vegetarian cuisine. He can also put you up for the night in one of his eight little cottages along the beach.
The ferry makes the trip to Atauro once a week on Saturdays -- so four hours later -- I'm back on the boat -- heading toward Dili. I'm definitely going back to spend a few days and will catch a ride back to Dili with a fisherman!