Last days in Dili part 1.

The real purpose of the trip to Dili was to participate in the Tour de Timor, of course, and once that was over and the dust had settled it was nearly time to head back home again.

Grafiti like this was *everywhere* across the country. Really.

Stage six finished with a fast run through the streets of Dili and a good ol’ crowd of people cheering us over the finish line at the Presidential Palace, at about mid-morning.  The whole of Dili was having the day off for the occasion, and the only wheeled things allowed on the streets were bicycles, which made a nice change to tooting taxis and manic motorbikes, belching trucks and general busy-ness of Dili traffic.   I know that if I say “the race that stops a nation” most people in my neck of the woods would be thinking of the Melbourne Cup, but I’m not sure if that really stops a nation any more, or just a very large city.  The Tour de Timor strikes me as a much better candidate for this now hackneyed epithet.  Actually, as it is a bit over-used, let’s not say “the race that stops a nation” at all.

The race that closes the roads from 0800 to 1300

In the afternoon there was a repeat visit to the Presidential Palace for the presentation of prizes and awards, and the obligatory handing over of over-size cheques written on billboard-sized sheets of corflute.  Just who it was that first had the idea of the over-sized cheque I’m not sure, but aren’t we over it by now?  Really?

The obligatory over-sized cheque

Prizes and over-sized cheques were handed out to the fastest in each of a few categories – open male, U23 male, open female, veterans 40-50, veterans 50+ (male and female), Timorese male, Timorese female, and a bunch of team categories.  They missed the category for fastest veterinarian for some reason.

Special mention was made of this bloke:

This guy was amazing....

You can see from the photo that he has a couple of physical disabilities.  The first is that he is obviously just a bit out of focus and a tad blurry, although for some reason when you get to see him in person you don’t notice this at all.  The second, and some would say more problematic disability, is his left leg:  the bones are there, and the skin is there, but there’s precious little keeping them apart.  When I first saw him around the camp site I presumed that he was one of the support crew for a Timorese team.  He walks OK, but with a very pronounced limp, and there’s no way he’d be able to ride a mountain bike long distances over rough terrain, right?

Wrong.  This guy was racing each day, and as he introduced him to the crowds at the end Ramos Horta took some delight in pointing out that whilst many able bodied foreign nationals had succumbed to the dreaded sag wagon each day, not once had Mr Da Silva needed assistance.  In fact he was one of the better placed riders.  I’m sorry folks, I can’t remember his first name, and I can’t remember where exactly he finished up on the tally sheet, but he rode, and he rode well.

And not only that, this limping and halfway nearly legless man also completed a half marathon earlier this year during the Dili Marathon.

In recognition of this extraordinary achievement he was presented with a new bike, a thousand bucks, and a job in the presidential palace in the major events department.

Later that evening we were treated to a bit of a drink and some nibblies and what was called a Presidential Reception, which was exactly as it would have been in any city of Australia, or probably any other country in the world – an excuse for people to drink at someone else’s expense.

The Presidential Palace is fresh and new and kind of exciting and leaves you with the impression that something is happening, and that this is a place that is going somewhere, or at least hoping to go somewhere.  Some of the fittings in the Presidential bathrooms are already starting to look a bit old, and you can’t help thinking that maybe the architects should have spent a tad more in the original build, but apart from that, the place really looks like it’s going somewhere.  One can only hope that where the country is going is as grand as where it once was.

Derelict building on the beach at Viqueque.



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. scottsabode
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 20:03:37

    What an adventure! You should make your own oversized cheque – in fact banks should give you the option when you get a chequebook.


  2. Heidi
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 10:26:07

    …Facebook’s made me look for ‘LIKE’ buttons everywhere. I would ‘LIKE’ the comment above mine if I could!

    That’s an amazing man there, with the leg. Makes me want to believe that the only limitations are in your head.

    And gosh, how could they miss the fastest vet category? You should’ve complained.


  3. Sandra Smith
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 17:53:48



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