Wednesday, 21 Dec, 2016. Rest day.
A good day to put my feet up. Major rain for most of the day. Pop into town for lunch and buy an Indo USB charger. I have an adapter with the right pins but the plastic around it is too big to fit into the sunken sockets that are prevalent here. Looked at buying apples but they were 60,000 (AUD $7) a kilo. Chose to stick with mangoes which average about 30 cents each.
Back to the Hotel Cendana for an afternoon rest. Have a Kramer-esq moment while bathing/ doing hand washing. Somehow a sock falls into the squat toilet hole without noticing and my rinsing bucket washes it down the drain. At least that’s my guess at what happened. I was washing four socks only, only three left the bathroom.
Back into town for yummy savoury and sweet pancakes for dinner from a vendor who wanted to take a selfie. That was a sign of things to come because on the next day’s ride more people did (but none have to this point).
Tuesday, 22 Dec, 2016. Kefamenanu to So’e. Day 7’s stats: To Octo’s house. 9 hours 14 minutes. 60.93 kilometres. Average 6.6km/h. 2236 metres up. 1586 metres down. From Octo’s house. 58 minutes. 13.34 kilometres. Average 13.7km/h. 168 metres up. 346 metres down.
An early start, cycling by 6.15am. Beautiful omelette and rice roadside on my way out of town.
I chose to take the road less travelled, taking the back roads instead of the highway to So’e. It made for an interesting day.
I found some hills. Two serious climbs that beat me and forced me off the bike to push. Meh, training for Flores.
I found a fair bit more interest from adults and lots of requests for “selfie, ok?” with me, when I chose to stop for rests or scenic photo opportunities, or in one case, flagging me down.
I found children running away from me! Normally, they see me from their houses and come to the fence or to the road to greet me. I’d say at least half of the kids I passed today ran inside their houses when they saw me. The others were very cautious and only approached after an adult had.
I found a lady wearing an Australian t-shirt. I had to stop and ask for a photo. She was a bit shy and reluctant but agreed. I had hoped she would be beaming a smile in the photo as she was a betel cheewer with a red mouth. She wasn’t.
I found a patch of dirt road, that thankfully only went for a kilometre.
I found beautiful views at the top of the mountains I climbed.
I found very simple traditional houses.
I didn’t find anywhere for lunch. I asked at a few shops and also houses but no offer for some home made local cuisine.
I found the cheapest mangos yet. Five for 5000 (about a buck).
And I found Octo.
An East Timorese with dyed hair in a Bulls singlet who approached me when taking the panorama photo below and offered to take me in for the night. I said a coffee would be nice at this stage and we went back to his house, which was just across the road. He was boarding with another family and had one room. The room was decorated wall to wall with Jesus, with some photos of his family. There were two beds in the room. His, and in the other his 104 year old mother curled up clutching a battery powered radio. I drank coffee. We talked. He was the organ player at a church in So’e. I shared my photos and told him about my family and my trip. We prayed together, on three separate occasions. I was debating whether to take him up on the offer. My lilo would fit on the floor (and it would be used for the first time this trip). And he was very friendly. But it was a little awkward. His English wasn’t great and he couldn’t answer my questions. We ran out of things to say to each other. I think if it had been 6pm rather than 4pm I would have stayed and it would have been fine. But I was still 14kms from town and tomorrow was a 107km day, and so I was happy when he suggested I’d better get going.
Rock up to the Bahagia 2 – Hotel and restaurant, karaoke, café and garden. It was relatively expensive at 220k ($25), last night was half this, but for the first time this trip I had pressed white sheets and little soaps with wrappers with the hotel’s name. No hot water, I wonder what that costs? No matter. A feed and a good sleep. It had been an exhausting day.
When speaking to grandpa on the phone as a child (and as an adult) he would work down his list of conversation topics. Without fail he’d ask, “I suppose you’re pretty fit, are you?” After today’s efforts I would have no hesitation in saying, “Yes grandpa, I suppose I am.”