Day 08: Friday, 05 Oct 12 –Maubisse

Waking up at the Pousada de Maubisse was an experience. As explained yesterday the Pousada is on a hill overlooking the township of Maubisse. It was a lovely day. As I went into our bathroom I looked out the window at the rising sun over the mountains in the valley. Very idyllic. After the morning routine there was some time before breakfast, so Kim and I had a walk around the Pousada and the lovely gardens.

From our vantage point you had clear views of the lush green valley below. It was certainly a beautiful location to be. On one side the views were of Maubisse with the Cathedral clearly a stand out building in the town. On the other side there were clouds in the valley and we were literally above the clouds. Where else would you want to be at that moment? We were sitting above the clouds.

The accommodation was certainly a great venue to stay. It was also a bit of a cultural experience for most of the team. With the lack of flushing toilets being the most confronting for the team. As I sat in the restaurant area with views over the garden I thought to myself what potential the venue has for accommodation. With a paint job, some minor maintenance, renovation of the bathrooms and a revamp of the menu in the Restaurant the location had plenty of potential.

Breakfast was coffee, tea and bread rolls. Julian labelled the bread rolls as mini dampers and in terms of taste, texture and looks it may have well have been. With the bread rolls there was pineapple jam or margarine. The team supplemented the condiments with strawberry jam and peanut butter. The pineapple jam was not something that I had had in the past, it was sweet. I must admit I did like it and had pineapple jam on both my bread rolls. Over Breakfast I drank too much coffee, so for someone that normally does not drink coffee, I am very alert.

Before coming to Timor Leste, I was advised that Portuguese is the official language for Timor Leste, Tetum is widely spoken and that English is used for business. Since arriving I have had many people say that Tetum is not being taught and is suffering because of this. I must say that my experience has been very different to this. It seems that everyone speaks Tetum and some speak Portuguese and some speak English, with a good number of Indonesian speakers. It seems that English is the least spoken of all these languages.

After spending some of the morning sitting in the restaurant at the Pousada on my laptop, I can imagine how the Portuguese Governor felt. Okay, Okay, Okay….. He would not have had a laptop, but the weather is beautiful, scenery is idyllic and the environment is peaceful. This may also be because I am a mountain type of person. I love the mountains and feel energised by the mountains.

Another random thought I am having is around the infrastructure of Timor Leste. I am very impressed with what they have been able to achieve since independence. Also everywhere we have travelled we have had mobile phone reception, and it is cheap. Hence most people have a mobile phone. They have also hooked up a fair amount of the country with electricity. This is impressive. The roads we travelled on have been reasonable. Over time they will improve, however they have been mostly tared, though narrow. There is also much construction going on, though mostly in Dili there is construction going on in other places of the country too.

On departing the Pousada we headed off to the CCT Coffee Plantation and factory. The President left early in the morning and we can now move into our new home for the next week. On arriving people are still packing up from the President’s visit and many important people are there. We had a reception with much of the management on arrive. More coffee…. It is good coffee. The factory operates seasonally and it is current not in operation. There is 44 staff that work at the factory in season.

There are photos on the wall of many important people that visit the factory. These include Mrs Hilary Clinton (US Secretary of State), the new President of Timor Leste and NZ Minister of business and Trade. I wonder if they will put our photo on the wall? I doubt it…. But it is good to see that we follow in the footsteps of important people. There is also a frame coffee sack on the wall. It is from the coffee that they ship from this factory to Starbucks for sale. Starbucks is one of the biggest customers for Timor Leste Coffee.

After our reception at the factory (our new accommodation) a small part of the team headed with the Chief Commissioner for Scouting in Timor Leste, Mateus, to the school that we will be working with as part of this project. The school was well hidden away on some dirt roads / 4WD tracks. Along with us were some community leaders and the director of the school. On arrival the whole school was outside waiting for us. There was singing and also a formal welcoming ceremony. During the ceremony they placed traditional Timor Leste Scarfs of us. This was a special moment for us. The singing was beautiful.

During the visit the director gave us a tour of the school. There are over 300 students and three class rooms, two of which have missing roofs. The missing roofs was due to a storm and have not been replaced the class sizes are anything from over 40 students to around 80 in each class and the classrooms are smaller than the classrooms in Australia. There is a new building being built for the school. However it is the same size approximately as the original. The school is the Samoro School.

We also had a reception at the school with the teachers and community leaders. Nicola our team leader and youth member did a great job of representing the team, Scouts and Australia. She also presented all the teachers a little koala from Australia. After coffee and some yummy traditional food we headed back to the vehicle for the trip back to the coffee factory. The children were all very cute and smiling and waving. I cannot wait to come back on Monday.

After sorting accommodation and the School, we had to sort lunch. For our time at the Coffee Factory we have sourced a local cook and are looking forward to some traditional Timorese meals. This will involve team members going into town (Maubisse) to the markets to pick up the food required. So the team is into town to have lunch and then for part of the team to go to the markets.

We had lunch at a Restaurant called Restaurant Sara. No one spoke English and there was no English menu nor was there a menu with pictures. So we all picked an item based on….. a name that we could not read. I was very impressed how the team got right into being adventurous and selected an item on the menu without any issues. I chose “Nasi Ayam” which was a dish with Chicken, Rice, Noodles and Vegetables.

Once back to the accommodation a small team headed off to the visit the Rotarians. The Rotarians had brought our boxes up from Dili for us. The Rotarians are in Maubisse to build a playground. They are staying at Rotary House near the Hospital. Apparently they have a very nice set up in Maubisse.

An interesting note in Timor Leste is the dogs. The dogs are not treated the way they are in Australia. In Australia dogs are pets and some people treat them like children. In Timor Leste, most of the dogs look like strays. They are not treated as pets. Interesting though, we have yet to come across an aggressive dog. In fact dogs seem also scared of humans.

Dinner was a Rice dish with Vegetables and Chili…. Lots of Chilli. There was no meat in the dish, however it was a very delicious meal. Not sure if the great taste comes from the vegetables being so fresh or if it is some spices that the cooks use. Either way the food is very tasty. We had so much food though. There was rice and chilli for another day or two.

The Timorese Scouts arrived later in the night. That was a hoot. The Scouts were all full of excitement and energy. They had tied a Timorese flag and a Scout Flag to the front of the vehicle. Our team got in and helped them unpack the vehicles and set up their campsite. They had two Army style tents and set up a flagpole out of sticks for the flags. Very impressive Pioneering. Some of the Scouts speak English, which is a bonus. Our team asked them many words in Tetum and took notes. So at least we now have a cheat sheet for communication.

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