Completion of My Visit to the 13 Municipalities of Timor-Leste (Part 1)

Last year, 2018, was the year I completed my visit to the thirteen municipalities of my country, Timor-Leste or usually known as East Timor. This may sounds weird as why as native who grow and live in my own country, I could only made to complete my visit to the country’s thirteen municipalities lately  last year due to personal limitations. After all, thanks to my youth explorer trip during college days and chances of joining field trip as a non-profit institution worker allowed me to travel, work and enjoy the beauty of each municipalities I visited and I could documented their glimpses of beauty in few pictures I took with my camera.

Map of Timor-Leste country

As a beginner in photography, I enjoy doing it for personal fun. To mark my not-so-fancy-explorer trip and capture the glimpse of beauty in each municipality I have ever visited, doing photography for me is an amazing medium to capture the endless impressions on a trip and it also worked as one of a relaxing therapy for my longing explorer spirit. Here are pictures of some interesting spots in the 13 municipalities of Timor-Leste and brief notes of my impression on them.

A Roundabout of Lospalos city, 2015
  1. Lospalos – Lautem Municipality

Known as the eastern edge part municipality of the country, Lospalos as one of post-administrative has became a place where I spent most of my childhood till my adulthood. The name Lospalos was modified by Indonesian government from its origin name Los Pala means ‘the garden’ in Fataluku language, a main dialect in Lautem municipality. The landscape are mostly flat lands and are predominant with grass field. The city at the present day become quieter as most of its young population are emigrating to UK and Ireland to find job. However, this municipality has a lot of interesting touristic places to be visited, strong cultures and traditions continued to carry on and yet many other stories about its people to be explored and retold. The Lautem Municipality composted from 5 post administrative; Lospalos, Tutuala,Lautem, Luro and Iliomar.
Fataluku is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Makassae, Maka-lero and Lovaia (may already extinct at the present day) but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 8 to 9 hours one day trip with car or public bus to reach this municipality from Dili, the capital of the Timor-Leste.

The restored Mercado Municipal in Baucau city, 2015

2. Baucau – Baucau Municipality

Being a student and living in this city in 2007s, Baucau is popularly known as the second big city in the country and considered second most crowded city as daily movement is seen as active as in Dili the capital, compare to other municipalities. Located at the eastern part of the Timor-leste territory, it is the second municipality people passed by from Lospalos to Dili. The city is also popular for its rocky area dominating its landscape. The Portuguese historical buildings are left among several landmarks in the municipalities and this municipalities also has a lot of beautiful places and interesting stories ad cultures to be explored. The city is also known for it active business activity from its people and religious activities are actively held in the town as the second diocese office located in the city thus become the center of catholic religion administrative at municipality level to cover 4 municipalities such as; Lautem, Baucau, Viqueque and Manatuto. Baucau municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Baucau, Venilale, Vemasse, Laga, Baguia and Quelicai. Makassae is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Uai-maa and Midiki but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 3 to 4 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Baucau city.

Hanging bridge, Viqueque, 2015

3. Viqueque – Viqueque Municipality

I first time visit this municipality in 2008 and the main city seemed a little bit secluded in the low land and high hills surrounding the landscape of the municipality. The word Viqueque is modified version of the words We Keke (means the eroding water while other local folktale account said it means arm bracelet water) from Tetun Terik, one of a main dialect in Viqueque post administrative. It is located at the south coast part of the Timor-Leste territory and people can reach this municipality from Baucau city or from Manatuto city when coming from Dili. The municipality known to have wider area of grown coconut plants, grow local several varieties of local rices, grow cashew nuts and has some historical places that shares memories of struggles during Indonesian occupation and also beautiful places to visit as well as the interesting cultures and traditions to explore. Viqueque municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Lacluta, Ossu, Uatolari, Uato Carabau and Viqueque. Tetun Terik is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Nau-ueti and Makassae but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. It took 8 to 9 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Viqueque city.

Subaun hill, Manatuto, 2015

4. Manatuto – Manatuto Municipality

Manatuto city is the city everyone has to passed by when coming from Lospalos, Baucau and Viqueque city on the way to Dili. Located at the central part of the country, the city is known for the historical places with catholic missionary influence in Soibada, ancient kingdoms historical values to retold, culture and traditions of its people, local festivities especially on its gastronomy. The popular one is Balisaun (salted baby shrimps harvested once a year) and akar babilak (palm fiber pancake). The municipality also known for its popular dance on festival of shrimp harvesting named suru boek dance (taking the shrimps in hand/harvesting shrimps). Subaun is one of the popular thrilling steep hills when passing by Manatuto to Dili, however, other landscapes such as beautiful beaches and hills are along the way to enjoyed. Galolen is one of main dialect along with other dialect such Tetun Terik and Idatee but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. Manatuto municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Barique-Natarbora, Laclo, Laclubar, Laleia, Manatuto and Soibada. It took 2 to 3 hours one day trip with car or public bus from Dili to reach Manatuto city.

Acait harbour at the front of Palacio do Governo, Vera Cruz, Dili, 2015

5. Dili – Dili Municipality

As the capital of the country, Dili is the most crowded city in the territory of Timor-Leste and becomes the central of development of the country thus people from other thirteen municipalities are all move to Dili to reach for a better livelihood and made it the most populated city. There are many interesting places in Dili such as Cristo Rei Statue and beach, Tasi Tolu lakes with Pope St. John Paul Statue to honour his visit in 1989, and many
modern restaurants and bars to hang out in along the way from Comoro road (Nain Feto post-administrative) to Cristo Rei area. However, what I noticed about Dili when I first time came to this place was that many people loved to hang out at the harbor in front of Palacio do Governo (Palace of the Government) in Acait street to enjoy the view of the sea, Atauro island at the northern side and the sunset. Palacio do Governo itself was a historical Portuguese building which today’s served as one of government office. There are many remarks of Portuguese and Indonesian buildings and legacy of dark past of struggle to independence in this city such as Santa Cruz cemetery, Balide prison and other places that record a lot of mementos of the country’s independence and history. Tetun is one of main spoken language along with other language such as Indonesian language, Portuguese and English along with dialects from municipalities. Dili municipality has 5 post administrative such as: Atauro, Cristo Rei, Dom Aleixo, Metinaro, Nain Feto and Vera Cruz. It took 2 hours flight on one day flight from Bali to Dili and trip duration from other municipalities are vary.

A vegetable garden in Seloi village, Aileu, 2013

6. Aileu – Aileu Municipality

What I remembered the most on visiting Aileu for the first time was the
sparse eucalyptus trees and grasses along the road and the fresh cold humid air along way. The word Aileu according to local tale was derived from the expression Ai Kleuk means bent tree is perhaps due to its curvy road.  My first visit was to Remexio post administrative in 2008 and there, the fog always covered the area in the afternoon. My second visit to Aileu city was in 2013 and I noticed the city to be the city of vegetable gardener as many local farmers run garden of vegetables and rice-filed as one their main livelihood source. I love to enjoy the view of the coffee garden, beautiful steep hills and there Seloi lake is one of beautiful place to visit. Aileu is known to be the municipality that supplies vegetables such as green vegetables, cabbage, cauliflowers and beans to Dili and also produce coffee plants. Being located in northwestern part to Dili, it took 1 to 2 hours one day trip with bus, car or motorcycle to reach the city. Mambae is widely spoken among the community but Tetun and Indonesian language is widely spoken and understood. The municipalities also has interesting pattern of cultural traditions and historical Portuguese buildings to explore. The municipality has 4 post-administrative which are Aileu Vila, Laulara, Remexio and Lequidoe.

A Stopover in Loes

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

Siapakah Wanita Bagimu?

6359946854879439121166629593_Mind Hurt3

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/ways-hurt-ourselves

(Puisi terjemahan Tetum-English ‘Se Mak feto ba O?’ Dedikasi untuk Hari Wanita Internasional  March 8)

I

Ketika dia berjalan menyusuri jalanan

Matamu memandangnya bernafsu, kau bersiul dan panggil dia ‘Cantik!’

Ketika dia tak menoleh, kau bilang dia ‘sombong’

Jika dia menoleh, kaupun membisu seketika.

Bagai tangan yang sembunyi habis melempar batu

Bila kau ingin memujanya, muliakanlah dia dengan  hormat.

II

Kau panggil dia ‘kekasih’, kau bawa dia ke pantai

Kau janjikan mimpi hari esok tuk menangkan percayanya.

Dalam manisnya kata, kau minta dia serahkan diri, seluruhnya untukmu.

Tapi bukanlah ini yang dia cari.

Dia butuh tangamu, untuk mendorongnya hadapi misteri hari esok

Tunjukkan padanya, bagaimana agar tak menyerah mengejar mimpi?

III

Kau panggil dia ‘putri’ dari darah dagingmu sendiri

Namun cintamu lebih besar untuk sang putra saja.

Kau ajari dia, bahwa takdirnya adalah melayani

Kau hargakan kemudaannya dengan harta benda duniawi.

Pada akhirnya, dia sendiri yang menanggung semua beban

Oleh sebab seorang yang tak hargai dia dengan janji cinta sejati.

IV

Kau panggil dia ’istri’, patutlah ia takut dan layani kau sampai mati.

Kaulah pemiliknya, sebab mahar telah diserahkan

Padahal maharmu tak lebih berharga dari jiwanya, jiwa yang lebih indah dari segalanya.

Dia temani kau sepanjang hidup, dengan tubuh, hati dan jiwanya

Dengan keyakinan, harapan dan keteguhannya.

Walau sering kau lempar dan tampar dia, dengan takutmu dan amarahmu sendiri

Dengan tangan dan kata-kata tajam kau lukai tubuh dan jiwanya

Lalu kau biarkan dia sembuhkan diri sendirian

Mengapa tidak kau jaga dia seperti pohon menaungi bunga?

V

Siapakah wanita bagimu?

Sudahkah  kau coba pahami dia dalam pikiran dan perasaanmu?

Apa saja yang kau temukan? Tanyalah!

 

VZ, Dili, 4 Maret 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debus Seloi (Seloi Lake) in Aileu Municipality

DSC01131.JPG

Debus Seloi lake

According to a local people I met, the word Debus mean lake in Mambae, a dialect spoken by people from Aileu. Seloi is a village in Aileu municipality, a municipality in the northwestern part of Timor-Leste and is one of only two landlocked districts, the other being Ermera. It borders Dili to the north, Manatuto to the east, Manufahi to the southeast, Ainaro to the south, Ermera to the west, and Liquiçá to the northwest. It was formerly part of the district of Dili but was split in the final years of Portuguese administration.

I had my first visit to this lake in 2013 during an office assignment. To get to this lake, one has to travel during one hour from Aileu Villa (Aileu city) with a four-wheel drive typed vehicle to reach this village. It takes around one and a half hour to reach Aileu from Dili. I did not go closely to the lake but I could only enjoy the view from the hill. Debus Seloi is a permanent lake that becomes the source of irrigation for rice fields and the vegetable field surrounding it.Looking at the Debus Seloi from the hill where I stand made me shiver with its serenity as the cold wind blowing slowly towards me. Aileu has a cold and fresh weather temperature.

A local people came nearby greeted me friendly and I greeted him as well. He then told me that every year prior to harvesting time, there is a communal traditional thanksgiving ceremony held in this lake. People in Seloi village mostly grow paddies, corns, and vegetables. Indeed these agricultural products become the supply for vegetable stocks in Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. A ceremony he told me has held annually as an act of gratitude towards the universe and the soul of deceased ancestors for the blessings on the crops for this year and the hope for best harvest for the coming years as well.

Prior to the ceremony, the head of each sub-village together with the Lianain (traditional village authority) in the Seloi villages will make coordination in order to discuss the materials needed for the ceremony and the contents of the ceremony programs. Within this coordination, an agreement will need to settle as well as the certain arrangement and task distributions to be made amongst the head of villages to organize their people to work for the preparation of the ceremony. On the agreement of the coordination, each head of villages arrange will animals such as buffaloes, chickens, goats or pigs to be sacrificed during the ceremony as an offer to the rituals. Later during the ceremony, the sacrificed animals will be handover to the community to be cooked and consumed during the ceremonial festivity. During this festivity and local men and women, adults and young people will be expected to participate in the ceremony as a compulsory social contribution.

Apart of the ceremony, there is a fishing race program held, where each representative from the sub-villages will participate and do the fishing in the lake as a symbol of gathering the lucky for the village. The more fish every fisher caught, the luckier the fisher would be and as well as his sub-village, the local villager told me.  However, the fish that have been caught are not allowed to be taken to the home and should be returned back to the lake as the fish are considered by the Lianain as sacred entities and they are the spiritual owner of the lake who looks after the lake and maintains the water in the lake to continue available for the village.

During the ceremony, there will be dancing and singing in traditional ways such as Dahur (dancing and singing together in the group) and Tebe (rhythmical step dancing with traditional acoustic drum instruments called  Babadok)  where everyone can enjoy the festivity.

VZ, Aileu, 2013