Day 06: Wednesday, 03 Oct 12 – Dili

Since arriving in Dili people have been giving us directions to different places. This is not an easy task as many of the buildings do not have clearly identifiable addresses. So directions are normal something like this “Near such and such, 50m down the road in the Crème building”. More often than not the directions will include “Near the ANZ Bank”. So I have come to accept that the ANZ Bank must be one of the landmarks in Timor Leste. Today is the day we get to see the ANZ Bank……

We have an appointment at the CCT (Cooperativa Café Timor) about our accommodation in Maubisse. We will be staying at the Coffee Plantation & Factory in Maubisse. The directions included “near the ANZ Bank”. So with a driver and vehicle supplied by Paul (thank you), we head out of the compound (the Timor Lodge Hotel) to the Blue Bakery for breakfast / Treat. Then off to “near the ANZ Bank”. For a building that is talked about so much, it is not that flash. From the outside it looks like a bank in Australia. However it is a key landmark not just for giving directions, but also on the map.

We had our meeting with Bency at CCT. It was a successful meeting. The details for the accommodation were sorted. We still needed accommodation on the Thursday night elsewhere, however the coffee factory is locked in for Friday onwards, we hope…. Bency also told us about the good work that CCT is doing not just with coffee farmers, but also in other agricultural areas. Coffee has been a success story for Timor Leste. Coffee has become a sustainable export. The product produced is good quality, organic and Fair Trade. In addition to this the CCT also run medical clinics throughout the coffee growing areas for the coffee farmers and their families. To date they have treated over two million people. We even bought some coffee to ensure that we have great tasting coffee when in Maubisse.

After the meeting we had a little time before the driver came to pick us up, so we went for a cuppa in a local café. There was only Nicola, Nathan, Kim and myself at the meeting. As it turned out I was the only one drinking coffee (considering I normally do not drink coffee). The rest ordered fresh juices, they were very yummy.

In Timor Leste it is common to hear complaints about the way the UN Drive….. I can say that in the little time I have been in Dili, I would have to agree with the complaints. Many of the UN vehicles are driven in interesting ways. The other day one UN vehicle was flying around blind corners and nearly hit us. Then today I watched as a UN vehicle just pulled out from a T intersection into the traffic and cut everyone off, stopping the traffic travelling on the main road. I have to add the UN Police are some of the worst offenders.

On the way back to the accommodation we made a couple of stops along the way. The team has decided that if possible we will get some T-Shirts made as a memento of the trip. So we stopped off at a shop full of cool, military, police and UN t-shirts…. There were some good ones, like the one that said “UN Intelligence Service. My job is so secret that I do not know what I do”. After Nicola and Nathan finished in the shop we headed into the Timor Plaza to look for a printing place for T-Shirts. We found such a place called diaK Printing.

After the Plaza we headed to Leader Supermarket a place we were recommended too. The range at Leader Supermarket is the largest that I have seen in Timor Leste. It is also the lowest prices that I have seen. Leader Supermarket is located next to the Timor Plaza and is a mix of a Supermarket, discount store and a furniture store.

On return to the Lodge the team were chilling in the swimming pool. Doing life hard, not. After lunch we got a call from Filomena, International Commissioner for Timor Leste, and got invited out that afternoon. We also got a call from the Rotarians that headed up the hill (mountains) yesterday. They need coffee, apparently there is a lack of coffee in Maubisse, though it is a coffee growing area.

So as the time came to go to meet up with the local scouts, we headed out of the gates and flagged down an empty bus. Once again the bus driver tried to charge a small fortune, however we were the wiser this time. We negotiated down to a very reasonable figure and were off to our meeting with the scouts. The bus driver put on cool music and we rocked down the road.

There is something we have got to know as Timor Time…. It is similar to Island Time that I experienced in the Solomon Islands. I have to add that I have personally observed that the people of Timor Leste are good workers. For example they are building roads very quickly. Sometime they are a little flexible with timings. So we arrived at the meeting at 5pm as planned and most people turned up between 5:30 and 6pm.

The meeting with the local Scouts was awesome. They officially welcomed us to their country and put on a traditional dinner for us. I so totally loved the seaweed dish, very spicy and hot. We had a great time talking with the local scouts as we ate our meal. A true scouting experience, where can you go and get welcomed to the country by locals and share in a traditional meal? I enjoy these experiences.

Getting home was an issue. The sun was going down and we did not want to be stuck on the streets after dark. So we started to walk back and walked a couple of kilometres, before we found a local bus with enough room for us…. Room for us, maybe. The local buses are heaps smaller than in Australia. In fact they are smaller than a Toyota Hiace or Mini-van. People are inside and hang onto the outside of them. They are also very cheap. So in this vehicle that is smaller than our family car at home there was our team, local commuters, the driver and a conductor. All in all there were 17 of us in, on, around the bus. Great experience, the young people loved the experience.

As I have explained earlier, this trip is not a holiday; it is an International Scouting Project. There is a number of objectives for the project. These include youth leadership, to have fun, community service project and culture exchange. To this end the trip has been organised by the young people with the support of the adults involved. Each of the youth members have a role in organising the project / trip. Each night the team leader and treasurer sit down with myself to go over the financials and the expenditure of the day. What can I say they are managing the project very well.

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