Saturday, February 7, 2009

Boy in Baucau

This boy was hanging out with his siblings near the community radio station in Baucau. He had just finished his bowl of rice. He was very shy and I snapped this picture as he was playing with his friends.

The community radio station broadcasts about four hours a day because of power cuts. The transmitter sits in a tiny building out back -- in the middle of a corn field.

Baucau and Back

Baucau is Timor Lestes' second largest city. I wish I lived there! It's much cooler than Dili and sits on a hill overlooking the sea. It's very green -- it's almost like the houses have been dropped into a lush tropical forest.

My colleagues and I stayed at the Pousada -- probably the nicest hotel in Timor Leste -- the building is painted hot pink!

The road from Dili to Baucau is pretty good, most of the way, hugging the sea -- and at one point climbing several hundred meters above the pounding surf. Sharp cliffs, covered with long, bright green grass, plunge toward the sea.

Inside Looking Out

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Points South

Swimming with the Fishes

The day began with a threat of rain, but that didn't stop my colleague Mario and me from venturing over the mountain from Dili -- to a snorkeling spot -- located behind the Jesus statue that sites on a point just east of Dili.

The snorkeling in Timor Leste can be awesome. Just wade into the water and suddenly there's the reef -- teeming with starfish, iridescent fish, lobsters and the most amazing coral -- a rainbow of colors.

This first snorkeling spot was so-so, so we headed further east to a spot about 41 kilometers away from Dili -- known to divers and snorkelers as K-41 -- as in the kilometer marker. K-41 was absolutely fantastic. The coastline is rocky -- nice round stones that make it easy to get into the water. Once you swim a few yards -- the reef is straight ahead and then the most incredible cliff -- it drops straight down -- and if you swim over it -- you're treated to a feast for the eyes. The fish like this spot -- and as you float overhead -- the water current is suddenly cold, then warm, the cold again.

The coral gently sways with the current -- it's almost hypnotic. Little fish dart back and forth from little caves in the reef. An iridescent starfish sits on the bottom -- unmoved by the current.

As the sun comes out, the underwater colors change dramatically -- becoming sharper and brighter.

By mid afternoon we'd worked up a big appetite and stopped by Victoria's Restaurant near Dili where you pick you fish and they grill it up for you. Our eyes were bigger than our appetites, we also ordered some of the biggest prawns I'd ever seen. Nothing went to waste -- the restaurant cats and dogs -- finished the leftovers.