Last week we travelled to Hato-Builico, the town at the highest altitude in Timor-Leste. The 60km trip takes about 5 hours. At 2200m, it is nestled in at the base of the highest mountain, Mt Ramelau, and is used as the “base camp” for the ascent. The mountain is almost 3000m high with steps and a fairly well graded path up so its no sort of extreme climb. For us it rained the whole time so we didn’t go up. We half expected it and went armed with board games. It was freezing cold though for our tropical bodies with temps going below 10oC.
Its very windy in the mountains. This corner store puts heavy rocks on the roof to hold it down.
We took along a family friend who also brought a Nepalese board game called “Bagh Chal” which means “Tiger Move”. Its a very cool strategy game where 4 tigers try to nab 20 goats.
We took up a water filter system to provide our drinking water. I wanted to leave it with some worthy person, but who? I settled for one of the richest people in the village. This is a strange change from my usual approach of “helping the poor”. But we are taking a different tack. Rather than leaving a few items with random “poor” families, we are trying to set up supply chains to deliver a continual supply of appropriate technology to whoever wants to buy it. This will also assist with ongoing supply of filters which need replacing after 6-8 months. So the richest guy has the town shop and the truck to bring supplies from Dili. He’s also more likely to have the brains and guts to try something new. And, if he recommends it, then it may be more likely that others will want to try it. Does that mean he’ll make money off the poor? Lets wait and see.
With all the rain, the road got a little more sketchy with what we’d refer to as several small landslides. We had no problem getting through with only one land slide freshly fallen for us to squelch through. (Thank you, Lord)
Mud and rock from the cliff above falls down over the road…
… and just to add some more drama, if I step back and take a snap of the left hand side of the road you might be able to see it cracking away and dropping down the steep slope…
… and while I’m snapping a shot, I’ve lost my kids down a hole in the road side, freshly revealed from road works to keep the road open, and they went inside!!?
Thankfully, the world is still trying to help Timor get on its feet and one effort is to improve the main road over the mountains. This rather expensive job has made it through the sub-contracting saga to end up in the hands of the Chinese. The job should be pretty good. They even use road signs.
We made it back down to our little home in Dili with very warm temperatures and sunshine. We snapped this happy shot of all the fam in blue.
Cynthia is feeling more confident in her pregnancy and at this stage plans to give birth in Dili – courageous as well as beautiful.
3 months to go.