Day 02: Saturday, 29 Sep 12 – Darwin to Dili

We arrived just after midnight in Darwin and our connecting flight was at 6:30am…… Not enough time to book into a hotel, but long enough to be really tired the next day. All part of this amazing adventure. The team did a great job entertaining themselves at the airport. I am not sure how many cuppas I had, however it was breakfast rolls for breakfast before the international departures opened in the morning.

Flying into Timor Leste was amazing. To get to Dili from Darwin you fly over the country and the mountains. Though a small country the mountains of Timor Leste are taller than the Australia’s tallest mountain. As we closed in on Dili the scenery out of the plane window was amazing. As we were bringing in boxes of stationary, sporting goods and clothing as part of the community project we had to clear customs with a letter from the Ambassador in Australia to avoid paying duties. This was a very smooth process.

Last year at the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden, Scouts Australia support two Venturers from Timor Leste to travel over as part of the Australian Contingent. These Venturers were in the troop that Nicola Pring, Team Leader Timor Leste Project (TL12) and myself were in for the Jamboree. It is from this Jamboree that Nicola through up, scoped out, built a team to plan, prepare and implement the Timor Leste 2012 (TL12) Project. Both of the Timor Leste Venturers, Fernando and Octaviano were at the Dili Airport to meet us…. What can I say, the friends made through scouting cross all borders and cultures.

Normally I would want to spend the first day in country resting and acclimatising, however this was not to be. Neville Tomkins, International Commissioner Scouts Australia, had organised for us to drop four aid boxes off to the Kirsty Sword Gusmao. Kirsty is the Prime Minister of Timor Leste’s wife and founder of the Alola Foundation. Without acclimatisation or without getting our bearings we were off to the Prime Minister’s Residence. It worked out that we were staying at the opposite end of Dili and so we caught a bus. The public bus stopped for us and emptied out all the passengers so we and our boxes could pile in. It was a great experience even if the driver ripped us off.

So at the Residence we got to spend some time with Kirsty talking about our project and the also about the work of the Alola Foundation. There were some photos taken in the beautiful garden with Kirsty and the team. What now….. The team is tired, in Scout Uniform and hungry. Unfortunately, however we had no idea where we were and the local taxi drivers were more than willing to take advantage of this.

After some confusion we decided to head to the Plaza for something to eat. At the time we did not know this was about one kilometre from our accommodation, the Timor Lodge Hotel. So this ended up being a good choice. The Timor Lodge Hotel, was built as a camp to house UN Police in the early days of the UN Mission to Timor Leste. The rooms are Avco huts (like you see on construction sites) that have been converted into accommodation. The accommodation so reminded me of an army barracks and I was right at home. That said there has been some work on improving the hotel with an awesome pool and great outdoor bar and eating area. While here in Dili they have also installed a large TV in this area. However the rooms are very basic including a bed, desk and chair in each of the rooms. Very Army like.

At the Plaza we ate at the food court, which is very reasonable priced. We also checked out the shops. The Plaza is relatively new and has a range of shops. We went to the supermarket and checked out the range on offer. The purchases included bulk water, long life milk and breakfast cereal. A short taxi ride home and it was time to relax….. A very long day…….

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