Sunday, day 14
Our little household spent the weekend on Atauro Island, about 2 hours by boat from the Dili Port. Shona and Craig had planned this weekend away some time ago, and invited Sarah and I along. Atauro is a fabled and special place, an island that must maintain something of a self-sufficient lifestyle, where mountain villages are accessible only on foot, where coral reefs are within metres of the shoreline and that offer superb snorkelling and diving opportunities. Between the island and the mainland the water falls to a depth of 3000 metres – a natural trench. When you go to the outer reef (minutes from the beach by boat) you can swim out to where this mighty drop begins.
Atauro used to be a prison island, during Indonesian times. For many Timorese people it may be synonymous with the terror and secrecy of those times. These days however, it is being touted as a supreme beauty spot and it plays host to not one but two eco-resorts. We stayed in one of these, Barry’s.
I don’t want to find myself writing a travel blog, but I do have to rave about Barry’s, just a little. You can walk to Barry’s from the ferry jetty. You walk through the local market, and when it finishes, you have reached Barry’s. His are the last set of dwellings along that stretch of beach. There are 5 or 6 different cabins, each made with imagination, natural materials, and traditional building techniques. There are drop-toilets and the most glamourous polished concrete mandi shower room you have ever seen. All meals are shared in the dining room (which is actually part of Barry’s family home) so you meet lots of interesting people when you stay there. It’s tranquil and beautiful, you can head off into the backdrop of mountains If you choose, or you can just chill out in the sea or on your own private verandah.
Enough description. Here are some photos: