Historical lunch stop to start adventure
Balibo Travel Blog› entry 42 of 86 › view all entries
Itâ€™s very strange the way the organisation (and I use that term very, very loosely) doesnâ€™t seem to plan as well as I would have expected. Being a member of the Operations â€śFamilyâ€ť since the middle of July, I am well aware this up-coming operation for the Sucu (village) elections has been discussed for months, by â€śthe familyâ€ť. I am astounded that on the Friday before we (179 HQ and Dili staff)were due to deploy from the capital city to the districts we still had not received any instructions about when or where we were to be going.
I brought the issue up at the regular Friday
morning Ops family meet. I put it to the
chief of Ops that I needed to know and I had staff who were concerned about
what was happening.
I couldnâ€™t believe it when his eyes widened after the Deputy Commissioner of Operations agreed with me, telling him to spread the operation plan to his gathered chiefs. It was almost as if there wasnâ€™t one!
That was Friday morning. On Saturday morning I telephoned the Deputy Chief of Operations to ask why I hadnâ€™t received anything yet. His answer was that the Chief was still typing it for distribution tomorrow.
Sunday came, and went. This time when I rang no-one answered the
phone. On Monday I decided to try a
different approach. I knew we of
National Traffic Unit were going to Bobonaro District. I e-mailed the District Commander and asked
him for a copy of his District operation order.
I then set to work booking some accommodation in Maliana (the main city
in Bobonaro, even though I was not sure if we would be staying there.
After lunch an email came out from Chief of Staff saying there would be a briefing for everyone at 1600hrs at the Police HQ. We assembled at the appropriate time and were briefed on our duties, you donâ€™t get more last minute than that!
Next morning I had arranged with HU what
time I wanted him to collect me. He and
I were partners and were driving our own vehicle. As I went up to the Esplanada Restaurant for
breakfast I had a call from the Chief of Ops requiring me to write a report on
the past 3 monthsâ€™ activities in National Traffic. The report had to be in by 10am for the
mission head (the SRSG) to take back to
Hu collected me and all my gear at 8am and at 9.45am I had the report completed and emailed to the Chief. We jumped in our car and headed to Bobonaro for our adventure.
I had never been West out of Dili, any
further than the firing range where we were first required to pass our firearms
test. This time I was heading West out
along the coast as far as Batugade, just a few hundred meters from the border
As we headed out I found I wasnâ€™t feeling too well. I had a head cold. A runny nose and a bit of a headache wasnâ€™t allowing me to enjoy the drive as much as Iâ€™d hoped. It was still beautiful scenery and every town and village we drove through I felt I should stop and ask someone if they would sell me a piece of it to build a little house on.
The only real problem was Huâ€™s
I wanted to stop at the border post at Batugade for a photo opportunity but Hu was still a little sulky. Heâ€™d been there before and wanted to get to Maliana to check the accommodation. I decided we would stop on the way back when all the drama of the elections was over and we could enjoy the journey.
We stopped at Balibo for lunch. This place is famous for two reasons, firstly it was the site of the murder of the Balibo 5 in 1999 as the Indonesians withdrew from Timor Leste, burning and shooting as they went. Secondly because a movie about the incident has just been released. The incident is all very topical 10 years on.
If you want to know the story of the Balibo
5 and the Indonesian withdrawl then this movie is well worth seeing.