A day in Dili

Simon took me up to Dare today – a little hamlet in the mountains behind Dili. It’s not far in distance, but took us about half an hour by car, winding around tight turns on a small road. It’s also the road that Xanana Gusmao’s car was ambushed on during the assasination attempt in 2008. I love the story of his escape – the rebels held up the car, but he realised immediately what was happening and slipped into the bush and escaped them. Capturing someone who was the leader of a guerilla army and lived in the mountains for years, is not a simple process!

There is a memorial at Dare commemorating the extraordinary support provided by the East Timorese to the Australian troops who were in East Timor when it was captured by the Japanese in World War II. The Australians were eventually evacuated, leaving behind the East Timorese over 60,000 of whom died during the occupation. It’s hard not to feel that Australia owes a massive debt to the East Timorese which it has never repaid.

Dili is still full of ruined buildings, destroyed during by the Indonesian militia in 1999 as they withdrew from East Timor. Despite the poverty though, people are happy. Walking through the streets, I heard laughter and people smile at you freely.

We had a lovely evening on the terrace of our hotel tonight. I like this place!