Below is the Timor-Leste leg from when my family came to visit me, if you missed part 1 you can read it here
Day 5: Tuesday 11th July
Today we had to be at the airport around 7am for a 9am flight to Dili. We arrived in Timor at about 12:30 pm and after getting some things from the supermarket and picking up some things from my house we went to our accommodation for the first 2 nights. My program manager and her partner kindly house swapped with me as my 1 bedroom place was not quite big enough for the 4 of us! For the rest of the afternoon we just chilled out and then walked down to a restaurant by the water to watch the sunset and have dinner.
Day 6: Wednesday 12th July
Today I took the family around some different places in Dili that I commonly go to so they could see them and when I talk about them in the future they know what I’m talking about. Firstly in the morning we took at taxi out to Christo Rei. We climbed up to the statue, its such an amazing view from up there! After hanging around at the top for a while we wandered back down and went for a paddle down at the beach. Once we had all cooled down we walked around to Caz Bar, just around the corner from Christo Rei there are a few different restaurants so we went to one for lunch. After lunch we got another taxi to get tickets for the ferry the next day. In this taxi the driver had his 3-year-old daughter on his lap, loud music playing, a broken windscreen and toys all over the windows blocking the view, this is very normal for Timor but was an interesting surprise for the family who also did not have seat belts! Surprisingly to get tickets for the ferry took about 2 minutes with no hassles at all, nothing in Timor is meant to be that simple, I thought to myself what have I done wrong!
We then went for a quick trip to the Resistance Museum, this museum is really interesting but it takes a lot of time to go through properly as there is a large amount of reading involved! With an impatient 11-year-old the trip was kept short. Next we had a visit to the VSA office so my family could meet my Program Manager, Victoria. After spending an hour or so chatting with Victoria we walked around to my work the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room which is a 2 minute walk from VSA. Here, I gave the family a tour and introduced them to my work mates.
For dinner, we went to a Turkish restaurant where I invited all of the VSA people so that everyone could meet my family (and vice versa of course). It was a lovely dinner but also a sad one! My best friend over here, Kaita was leaving the next day. This was a hard goodbye but I know that I will see him again and we will be friends for years to come!
Day 7: Thursday 13th July
This morning we had to be at the wharf at 7am to catch the 8am ferry to the island of Atauro. Atauro is a small island off Timor that is in Dili district and is especially popular with tourists as it has some of the most bio diverse reefs on earth for snorkelling and diving and is a beautiful island. The ferry left just after 8am and was said to take 3 hours. After 4 hours and a puking Cam we arrived on the island. We stayed at Barry’s which is in the village of Beloi, and a 5 minute walk from the wharf. I did not find this out until after but we did not go at a good time in the year as the winds are often high meaning that it is harder to go snorkelling. We spent this afternoon relaxing and playing some board games. All meals were served buffet style with a mix of Timor and western style foods. At night we spent time reading and star-gazing as there is almost no light pollution effecting the view of the stars!
Day 8: Friday 14th July
Because of the location of the coast we were on you get the most stunning view of the sunrise so we all woke up early to see it, absolutely breath-taking.
After breakfast we hopped into the back of one of the workers vans as they were dropping someone off to the next village and it was a good opportunity to see more of the island! The Timorese we were with showed us a hot springs which were extremely hot! After cruising back through the village we went with some other tourists to the outer reef for snorkelling. This was cams first time snorkelling out of a pool and he absolutely loved it! We saw lots of different reef fish and spent almost two hours in the water. Even the pictures from my GoPro do not do this place justice. After lunch we attempted to snorkel at a different spot that we didn’t need to take the boat for but it was just too windy and the tide was too high so we ended up just doing some exploring, playing some games and relaxing!
Day 9: Saturday 15th July
Today we had to go back to Dili, the boat we were getting was at 2/3pm so we had the morning on the island. We watched the sunrise again this morning, which was even better than the day before!
After breakfast we took a tuktuk down to another village called Vila that I had wanted to visit. This village had a couple of shops that are both run by local womans groups. Here, I bought a traditional doll, tais crocodile and a handmade bracelet. After a quick look around we went back down the dusty road to Beloi which took about 15 minutes in the tuktuk. Today on Atauro a political rally as the election was the next weekend. We passed many enthusiastic youth on the back of a truck on their way to the rally. One of the big ferries was out of action today because it was being used to take people from Dili for the rally.
After getting back from Vila it was snorkelling time again! We could fit in one last snorkel before having lunch and then leaving back to Dili. This time we saw many different fish and even some ones we hadn’t seen the day before such as a giant clam and spiny sea urchin. it’s so good that this reef is now a marine protected area and people take care with it. After lunch we were just relaxing until Barry said that the boat was due to leave in 15 minutes (they run on a very loose schedule and leave when they want) we walked quickly down to the wharf and got a dingy to the boat. This boat was due to take an hour to get back to Dili. After sitting on the boat for about an hour while they loaded all the people and chickens on board we eventually left. When we got back to Dili I moved into my new house! Almost the only plus side to Kaita leaving was that i got to move into his old house, it was much bigger than my old house and just gave me a bit more space. It also meant that my family could stay here on their last night (and help me move in haha).
Day 10: Sunday 16th July
Most of today was spent just chilling out and packing for the family, unpacking for me. I took Cam on a couple of short rides on my bike so he could get a taste of it and loved it! At about 2:30 it was time to go to the airport. I took my bike and followed the others who were in the taxi, this made it easier for me to get home afterwards. After checking in we hung out in BK as it was much cooler there. Eventually it was time to say goodbye! This meant that I would not see any of my friends/ family until I come home in December! This was a much harder goodbye then either of the times I left New Zealand. I am really enjoying my time here though and am definately making the most of it! I currently have about 4 and a half months until I am home which is not long at all!