23 June 2013 1 of 3

TIMOR-LESTE (Dili to Com, Lautém District)



Having lost a day due to the ferry debacle and the rain we made new plans, we would head for the far eastern end of the island of Timor, to Lautém District with its large crocodile and turtle infested lake, its limestone plateaus and caves and the uninhabited spirit island of Jaco. It would mean a 6-7 hour drive so we would have to repack the Troopies - it is one thing fitting 11 people, their personal bags and all the field kit into two Troopies for a short drive down to the dock, onto a ferry and then the short drive to accommodation on the other side, it is quite another packing for a long drive in comfort and safety, especially on Timorese roads. Most of the kit and larger bags were packed in tarpaulins on the roof rack of Hinrich's Troopie with smaller personal bags inside with passengers. Britta, Julia, Claudia, Sven and Kevin rode with me, Franziska, Jay, Laca and Paulo with Hinrich.

Loading the Troopies
And the team about to leave
(l-r) Mark, Kevin, Sven, Britta, Julia, Claudia, Jay & Hinrich
(missing from photo: Franziska, Laca & Paulo)

We set out from Dili around 11:00, picking up Laca and Paulo enroute, and drove east along the scenic north coast road, heading for Com, our destination approximately 200 km from Dili. The road has been greatly repaired as far as Baucau, Timor-Leste's second largest town and the halfway point of our journey, but beyond Baucau we could expect the usual potholes, subsidence and mud. It was also noticable in my vehicle that there were some odd sounds coming from the truck. There was an occasional knocking sound coming from the front axle, especially when cornering, but more alarming was the occasional burst of what I can only describe as like the Crazy Frog, that annoying 'ming ming' sound of a very small motorcyle being driven at full throttle as it tried overtake, undertake, of go underneath us - except there was no motorocyle. Odd noises from hired 4x4 vehicles in the tropics are to be expected though, they are often not what would be considered roadworthy at home, and the bald tyres are usually enough to remind me how important our own British MOT test is to our safetly on the roads.

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