Big, small, delicious, funny, confronting, over the top exciting, or quietly moving, there’s always a ‘best moment’ in every day, wherever we are in the world.
I was spoilt for choice on my trip to Timor-Leste this week.
Getting some style tips from this girl who had the coolest hair plaits going on. A quick reality check that whilst we’re doing this trek for a fun adventure, this is their every day ‘walk’ to school with the usual amount of playing and messing around. Our guides translate for us, but it doesn’t really matter, smiles are the same in every language. After a beautiful 4 hour trek across the island, a dip in these turquoise waters, and a swing in this hammock I was feeling like the luckiest gal on the planet.
Waking up to this… all I had to do was take one step out of my bamboo cabin. It’s a moment to remind myself that ‘Every Day Is New Life’…. new beginnings, anything is possible today.
Sometimes it’s the ‘moments in between’ that count on our travels. We’re hanging out by the beach in a small village waiting for a guide to arrive, kids are just out of school.
Whilst the people on this island have very little monetarily, they are rich in hope and happiness. It’s not a tourist cliche engineered for travel brochure talk. Moments like this really hit me about the choice to be happy with what I have.
Walking in the pre-dawn darkness out of the village, I’m like a kid just let out of school, running to the top of the hill to catch the sun rising over the ocean. It’s such a beautiful spot. On the way back kids are walking to school (up to 7kms one way), people are walking to the next village. Everyone stops for a chat.The goat squad put a smile on my face.
The view from Manukoko mountain rewards me after a trek I find a little challenging. Being pushed out of my comfort zone is ok.
Nothing beats lobbing the top off a young coconut and guzzling down the cool liquid after a hot trek. Kabal shimmied up the tree in seconds!
Finding the local ‘gym’ in Dili, I’m inspired to work up a sweat running up sections of a 590 step staircase to the Christo Rie statue in Dili. I lob into local groups, welcomed with a thumbs up. I’m far from fast, but I don’t care, I’m moving, I’m lucky to be able to do this. The bonus… a stunning sunset to finish the day before cruising back to the hotel on the back of a motorbike with our new Dili friends.
Truth is observing my ‘Kabal best moments of the day’ were the best.
For a guy who has barely travelled out of his Bali village, let alone the country, the way he handled so many ‘first time moments’ has blown me away. The big ones….. a plane trip and jumping in and out of boats of all sizes from small dinghies, to wooden fisherman boats to fast and slow local ferries. I’m not sure what was the greatest fear – the plane takeoff, ocean waves or the potential motion sickness. With a combination of anti-mo tablets and hanging on tight he got through it all with a smile on his face.
My biggest delight with Kabal… he made so many friends wherever he went, making connections for life. Personally I love some pure solo time on my travels. Not Kabal. If he didn’t need a nap he was skipping off to the village to meet with his new friends. We caught a faster boat back from the island to Dili and it was definitely an ordeal for Kabal. I was nervous he would be a little shaken, but no, as soon as we hit our hotel he dumped his bag, contacted his new Dili friends and was off out in the neighbourhood.
The main purpose of our trip was to get Kabal familiar with the place and the people involved with my the Sharing Timor-Leste itinerary. Most important was the training of local trek guides on the island. Having Kabal backing me up by sharing his skills did the job. We have some awesome people waiting to show us their island as part of my Sharing Timor-Leste trips.
Timor-Leste is a place less travelled. The lack of tourism infrastructure creates some challenges, but nothing that time and patience can’t fix. I’m looking forward to exploring more of the country, but I now have very realistic expectations. First step is to get to know local people and understand local ways, local conditions. It will take years and that’s ok. There will always be a best moment in every day if you look for it.
Note the out of control curly island hair…… and I don’t give a damn.