Travel to interview

Baucau Travel Blog

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Just a little crater in the Uatolari road

I got up at 4.30am on Saturday morning to make my way to Viqueque and on to Dili for my interview as the Team Leader of the National Traffic Unit.  I have to admit, I’m not very excited about the job now that I have seen what Uatolari has to offer in comparison to noisy, smelly, crowed Dili.  I’ve said it before; I’m a small town boy.  Cities are great to visit but I’m not interested in the hurry of them every day.


Uatolari is heaven.  The more I see of the sub-district, the more I believe that.  I have mentioned to a few of my contingent that I could happily build a little house out here and live my days away.

Japanese ammo bunker near Venilale
  They seemed somewhat concerned that I may go “Apocalypse Now” on them.  I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie at all but an American GI goes bush and becomes a God/King of a whole area.  As appealing as it sounds, I don’t hold any fears that I will slide that way.


Anyhoo, I left Uatolari in the dark, enjoying the ease of travel when there are few animals or people on the road ahead.  I say few because there was still a handful travelling with their goods before dawn to set up their market stall.  Markets are held Wednesday and Saturday.


I stopped at VQQ to use the computer and print my MOP (Movement of Personnel) before setting out on the road I had not yet driven.  By the time I left it was still dark but dawn was near and more people were scurrying about.


There is just one road to Dili but it has three turns on it.  I was happy to negotiate 99% of the way but I was not feeling confident about one of the turns.

Near Baucau Airport. I will head to Viqueque District between the 2 mountains
  I ended up asking directions 3 times but that wasn’t as easy as it sounds either.  I selected wise old men to assist me as I figured they would know the way.  The trouble was more about my language than who I asked and the old men may not have been the travellers I had anticipated, perhaps young men are more curious about the world these days.


I pulled up alongside the first, wound down my electric window and asked, “Dili?”, pointing the way I was heading. 

  Luckily I kept the passenger’s door locked because the old man looked very confused, then tried to climb into the car.  When the same thing happened an hour or so later I realised these old boys probably thought they were being arrested and taken to Dili, believing my question to be a directive rather than a navigation problem.


I didn’t have to be at my interview until 3pm.  I expected to arrive at Esplanada in time for lunch at mid day.

Inside ammo bunker. Venilale
  I wasn’t in a hurry but I didn’t stop to photograph anything along the way, there would be time for that tomorrow when I returned.


At lunch everyone was interested in my interview and were more interested later at dinner.  We went out to Tuk Tuk Restaurant and I told everyone that I was happy with the technical side of my interview but probably didn’t do too well with the Timor Leste side as I hadn’t been here long enough to know much about the problems within the country.


When they asked if I felt the job was mine I was unable to say.  One of the applicants is already on the team so I would expect him to be selected to step up to the position.  Time will tell though and I would certainly be sorry if I were to leave the District to return to Dili where the traffic issues would not only hamper my daily trip in to work, but would be the very thing I would have to work on!


I did enjoy the Esplanada’s menu, the hot shower and the basket of freshly cleaned clothes though, so I guess there would be some benefit in being back here in the city.


After lunch I grabbed a couple of things from our store, said good-bye to everyone and headed East along the waterfront, out of Dili.  I relaxed into the drive, the first 2.5 hours of it was going to be easy as the paved roads were in reasonable condition.  It was only after crossing the District line into VQQ that the craters would be more prevalent than the pavement.


Again I was staggered by the beauty of the countryside.  There are about 5 distinct changes in the landscape, from beachfront, to pasture, to forested hills, rocky outcrops and mountainous heights.  The trees change, the rocks change (TL is rich with deposits of marble), people’s industry changes.  I would have seen more if it wasn’t so important that I watch the road. 

  One thing that didn’t change was the lack of care from other drivers.  Wits are needed here as many of the rural drivers don’t sit any sort of driving test.  I came close to having 3-4 head-on collisions with guys who weren’t watching the road ahead.


I got back to Uatolari about 7.20pm (just after dark).  I was good to be back here in the quiet village.  The power was on the boys were just serving up steak and chips, life was good!



The next day we had a Bacon & Egg sandwich session for the PNTL and UNPOL staff.  The three of us Kiwis quickly threw together 30 odd sarnies and just as quickly the 24 of us devoured the lot.


There were a couple of interviews to be conducted at the station then after lunch we had to take the PNTL up to the top of Uatolari Mountain to serve some documents on a suspect.


There were 7 of us that piled into the Land Cruiser to head up the mountain.  Somewhere up there Bear and Tom were going to leap out and do a foot patrol back through the little villages dotted along the road.  I continued driving the others up into the clouds.


It was cool up there, only 22C (ha!) and this far away from the metropolis of Matahoi the houses were much more traditional looking and the villages themselves very interested in our passage through their quiet lives. 


Somewhere towards the end of our journey the road became more of a track and I had to put the cruiser into 4WD.  I wondered what it would be like if I was doing this in the rainy season.  I doubt the job would get done.  We were still a long way from the top of the mountain and the 4 streams that cut the track would no boubt turn to raging torrents with a couple of hours of tropical downpour.


Whilst the PNTL completed their work in the village I enjoyed the view over Uatolari Sub-distict and the sea far below.  Yeah, I could definitely make a home up here!

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Just a little crater in the Uatola…
Just a little crater in the Uatol…
Venilale rice fields
Venilale rice fields
Japanese ammo bunker near Venilale
Japanese ammo bunker near Venilale
Near Baucau Airport.  I will head …
Near Baucau Airport. I will head…
Inside ammo bunker.  Venilale
Inside ammo bunker. Venilale
photo by: slayerspike