Gentlemen’s Hangout in Maubisse.

Two men on sunbathing chat in Maubisse, Timor-Leste

‘My Brother’

‘Yes’

‘What a beautiful morning, is it not?’

‘Yeah. It is indeed.’

‘The sun rays are nicely warm.

‘Yeah. It is.’

‘Let’s do sunbathing with these lovely babies of ours.’

‘Sure, my brother. They will love it.’

‘My dear brother…’

‘Yes.’

‘Something is bothering me.’

What is it? Do tell me. 

‘I received a news that a relative from my wife’s family has just passed away.’

‘Oh poor you… Sorry to hear that. So why it bothers you?’

‘I do not have enough money to submit for my family clan’s contribution. May I ask you to lend me some? Please do help me’

‘Oh man… No worry. I’ll see what I can do for you later. But now, let us enjoy this beautiful sunbathing first.’

Maubisse (Timor-Leste), September, 2017.

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OJEK: A Lospalos version of Thailand’s Tuk Tuk

26904247_10215246973431895_2294865965664384956_nLast year was just the same with the years before in Lospalos city, one of post administrative of Lautem municipality. It is usually difficult to get public transport whenever people wanted to go somewhere around the Lospalos city unless they have their own motorbike or willing to walk. However, this year, I am quite surprised to see a new type of public transport exists here. It is a rickshaw type of vehicle with three wheels imported from India. In Lospalos this rickshaw vehicle is called ‘Ojek’ which is referring to the service it provides as public transport within the city. Looking at this vehicle reminds me of Tuk Tuk, the similar type of vehicle existed widely in Thailand as a popular public transport.
Being different with Thailand’s Tuk Tuk that goes faster, this Ojek or Lospalos version of Tuk Tuk goes gently against the road. Until today, some parts of the road in Lospalos are still smoothly paved while some parts are lately have been roughly paved with white rocky soil and it makes the road became a little bumpy. The good thing about riding Ojek is that it enables us to easily see the view along the way while getting some fresh air as it is an open-air vehicle. There is another type of this rickshaw that is enclosed with a transparent glass window that can be open when needed. However, when it goes through the bumpy road, we will be shaken and get a bit upset if we do not hold tightly to the vehicle.
The unique thing about this vehicle is that it uses electricity as the source of energy by recharging it directly to the electric socket. According to the driver who operates it, he at least will need to recharge the vehicle during five hours and it costs around 2 USD of the pre-paid electric card. The price of using Ojek service is depending on the distance with the service cost ranges from 0.50 cents for the nearest distance to 2 USD for the further one. In a day, on average, an Ojek driver can earn around 15 to 20 US Dollars as the income.
The electric rickshaw operates recently this year in Lospalos city. Before Lopalos city, this type of vehicle has been used as public transportation for few years in Manatuto that has similar characteristic of a flat landscape with Lospalos. Indeed, using Ojek can help people moving around to the nearby places in the city that are too far to be reached by walking.
The driver also tells that at first people are quite hesitant to use Ojek as public transportation perhaps because of this type vehicle is new to them. However, lately, Ojek has gained the local passengers attention, especially the students during school time and common people in general. Somehow, during vacation, the number of people using Ojek is not as much as the school time.
“Tiu (uncle), I wish this Ojek had existed in Lospalos since I was here many years ago. That would be much better, right?’ I told to the driver while sitting behind him. He gave me a brief laughter.
‘Oh.. dear sister, I wish for the same too. But it just came recently and we also have just known about it’. He replied.
I chuckled gleefully. What he said was correct.
Lospalos, January 3rd 2018
Note: Lospalos is one of administrative post belong to Lautem Municipality of thirteen municipalities in Timor-Leste country.

Last Year’s Christmas Hut

This year, the Christmas hut in our village is left undo

In fact, last year, it was the most beautiful Christmas hut in our village made by our local youth

There was blinking lamps light the every night

Picture of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus with shepherds and their lambs and the three kings were there

Every night, all the youth of the village would came ro gather and hangout here

Some will brought their mp3 player and play all kind of Christmas songs

The village became live becausebof that Christmas hut

This year, those local youth who used to do the hut are gone 

Some go to Dili, the capital city

Some went abroad, to Korea, england, Ireland, to find job

This year, there is no more Christmas hut in our village.

Obrato, Manatuto Municipality

Dec 23, 2017

Rosary of A Rural Lady

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Photo: A Timorese local woman

You live in a peaceful village

You grow along with the nature, the green mountains

Learn to follow the rules and wisdom of the ancestors.

 

In the morning, the cockcrow of the roosters wake you up

While the sunshine has not risen yet.

You enter the kitchen, lighting up the hearth and it smokes out

Later, a hot pitcher of an aromatic smell of coffee is ready to serve

With some freshly boiled cassava roots

It’s morning already’ So you said to everyone…

 

You live in a hut made of palm leaves and trunk

For your children, it is the most beautiful palace ever

As long as you are always there for them, every day and every night

To shelter your children with love.

 

To the spring fountain, there you go to take the water

Even if it is quite far to walk.

Filling the whole water pot, you carry it on your head

To the farm and rice field you go

To secure the food for your household

With palm leaves, you weave the winnower, mat, and basket

Those items are to contain the goods that belong to your household

 

You live with all your strength to serve

Sometimes you become weak and powerless

Yet still, you rise soon afterward.

 

‘The night is coming…’

So you summon everyone to gather

In a table with an ample of food

You fulfill their hunger, thirst, and fatigue

Then, there you sit still

Listening and seeing them talk

Measuring their mind and soul,

Feeling their burden and relieve.

 

Today has passed away

Yet still you believe that tomorrow is coming

Despite you do know not what it will bring.

You do ask not a lot of things

You do aspire not a high dream

As to you, it is enough

When the future of your children can be bright

Though someday, you might not be there at all to see it….

Dedicated to Timor-Leste rural mothers…
Vitalia Ze, Dili, October 15,  2014