TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE IV: ARRIVAL IN DILI
The eight-person Victor Valley College team from the United States, led by Hinrich Kaiser, and Mark O'Shea, from the United Kingdom, arrived in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, on a Silk Air Airbus A319 operated by Air Timor*, on flight MI296 from Singapore on Tuesday 18th January 2011.
* If the captain or crew of the Air Timor flight MI296, who had their camera-phone photographs taken with Mark, at the top of the steps to the aircraft, would like to send a photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org we would very much like to include it in this blog. Please remember to include your names for the caption.
After passing through Immigration and Customs we retired to our usual base, the Timor Lodge Hotel, a former military compound, located only minutes from the airport, and settled in to prepare for the fieldwork. Three of our "Jets", the Timor-Leste members of the team (Laca, Luis and Zito), met us at the airport and came to the TLH with us (the fourth member and leader of the Jets, Venancio aka "Benny", joined us in the evening). The rest of Tuesday was taken up with unpacking, sorting field kit, briefings about the ever changing itinerary, and resting after 3-4 days of traveling.
One of the factors which will have an impact on the order of locations visited during this fourth three-week phase of the project, is the availability of a ferry to reach the island of Ataúro, north of Dili. We ideally need to get one of our vehicles to the island to enable us greater mobility and scope to survey the island more completely and without it our options are considerably reduced. However, there are rumours that the regular ferry may depart for Surabaya, eastern Java, for a three-month refit. In the meantime we will consider some of the mainland locations where we want to conduct survey work, primarily on the more humid and fairly un-surveryed south coast. There are also supplies to be purchased and diplomatic visits to make in Dili itself, so we will not be unoccupied.
In the evening of the 18th the entire 13-person team (eight Americans, four Timorese and one Limey) gathered by the pool of the Timor Lodge Hotel for pizza and chips (aka french fries), with salt and vinegar of course as Mark continues his quest to bring the best of British cuisine to the world, washed down with Tiger and Bintang.
|The Phase IV team:
(l-r) Venancio (Benny) Carvalho, Mark O'Shea,
Hinrich Kaiser, Joanna Flores, Robert Sewell,
Paul Landry, Luis Lemos, Caitlin Sanchez,
Kyle Olsen, Zito Afranio, Agivedo (Laca) Ribeiro,
David Taylor and Scott Heacox.
The project logo on a Toyota Troopie door panel
(design by Mark O'Shea)
click image to enlarge
The plan is to begin fieldwork on Thursday 20th January, when the VVC team will once again step into the footsteps of the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) who worked in the region over 150 years earlier, to continue the fascinating task of conducting zoological fieldwork in a remote location in the vast and diverse Malay Archipelago.
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