Baucau market, Baucau beach

Sunday, day 21

Today Lorensa and I had a restful day. She offered to take me to some of the second-hand clothes markets up in the hill in the New Town. A colleague had told her about a large stretch of stalls that had lots of clothes, in all sorts of sizes.

People, Timor Leste is an op-shoppers paradise! (‘op shop’ = opportunity shop = charity shop or thrift store). No-one told me this particular fact. Dili was peppered with clothes stalls, and Baucau has more of the same. The prices are fairly standard across all the stalls – usually $1 for a shirt or top, $2 for trousers or skirts, $2-3 for a dress, and probably more again for coats and jackets.

Later in the afternoon we drove to the beach. As I’ve described earlier, Baucau is perched almost at the top of a cliff. Here is what the view looks like from Mana Lorensa’s place:

The sea looks incredibly close, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. To get there, it’s best to drive or go by motorbike or mikrolet (if you can find one on a Sunday). The road to the beach from the town centre is downhill and pretty steep and windy. Along the way you pass rice paddies, some magnificent ancient banyan trees and many homes built in the traditional Timorese style, as well as some old Portuguese structures.

Banyan tree on the road to Baucau beach

Eventually you reach the coast, and come to a small fishing village. It’s perfectly positioned to have a small café or fish restaurant there (like the wonderful restaurant in Blagaj near Mostar that is right by the source of the River Buna, and only sells trout) – but that is something for the future.

Not many Timorese people go to the beach – not many know how to swim. That Sunday afternoon when we visited, we were the only people there – for about five minutes. Then a man and couple of kids turned up on a motorbike and got in the water too.

The beach has thick foliage – palm trees and others – that come close to the water’s edge. There is also an old Portuguese fort on the sand, which has a couple of trees growing out of it. And there is a sign, warning visitors (in Tetun but with pictures) that “crocodiles swim here”. So we kept an eye peeled and fingers crossed, but couldn’t resist that cool blue water.

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