I left Australia and East Timor some time ago to backpack north into Asia, where I am now. I may have left that region of the world, but I remember it clearly…
Getting from Darwin, Australia, to Dili, East Timor last year was quite an undertaking. I worked my passage aboard a vessel that was towing a large aluminium boat. The 81-hour ocean journey was rough on my stomach, on my sense of balance, and on my mind – at sea, there is not much rest to be had! But it was worth every second of queasiness because on my arrival in East Timor, a radio station producer was waiting.
But sadly, when I arrived in the capital, Dili, having disembarked from the small ship, I was disappointed to find that JoJo Radio was almost never staffed, and the producer was otherwise engaged. After 2 visits to the station, I had to accept that I was not about to experience my first world record-related radio interview in the islands to the north of Australia.
But I’m not one for giving up easily. I headed into the interior, to where coffee is produced on the slopes of East Timor’s seemingly endless mountains. In tiny villages composed of houses comprising cement floors and bamboo walls with corrugated iron rooves, I quickly made friends. With pigs, chickens and goats meandering in and out of the spartan houses in search of undiscovered morsels, we sipped over-sweet black coffee and I laughed my days away with cute children pestering me politely to teach them English.
Life there was quaint, basic and predictable. The men grow coffee, the youth pick it and the young men grind it for drying. The women tend to children, manage “shops” of vertically halved bamboo stalks matted into walls and floors, and cook rice-based dishes for every simple meal. There, I was able to relax, having forgotten the worries of hard work onboard the small ship, and I dreamed of my next world record challenge.