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Timor Leste Cowboys from the Maubissi Highlands

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14 – 16 August 2010

S8 83.872 E125 60.340 – Maubisse

Highland Maubisse was some six hours drive from Dili. It sounds like a long trip uphill but we stopped a lot along the way. One scene that definitely made us pause was the painful sight of a forest gone and the erosion that took its place.

High up in the East Timor mountains passing road curve upon road curve, this landslide image is a common sceneHigh up in the East Timor mountains, passing road curve upon road curve, this landslide scene is sadly a common sight

Once we arrived in Maubisse, we were instantly charmed by the place as it was utterly quaint. We scheduled our trip that we got there during the weekend – Sunday market day being the highlight when people from far distant places walked or rode their ponies to the market. We didn’t come prepared for the cold and I felt chilled to the bones being up 1500 m above sea level! Brrrr, it was 14℃ in the early mornings.

BrrrEarly morning fog covered the valley from the vantage point of Pousada Guest House - the place to be in Maubissi

Timor-Leste is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in the Coral Triangle, the other being the Philippines. I attended the first mass that Sunday morning at 7:30. The guest house where we stayed was conveniently right in front of the cathedral. During mass, the Timorese women and girls reminded me of Manila circa 1970s, when conservative feminine females all went to church in dresses and veils. They still do in East Timor! It was kinda nice to see a place where time stood but with a hint of the modern.

A nun photographs choir members after Sunday mass. When we left the church, the second mass was about to commence and the choir members quickly huddled outdoors for a photo opportunity as this nun, their choir director snapped them with her mobile phoneWhen we left the church, the second mass was about to commence and the next choir members quickly huddled outdoors for a photo opportunity as this nun, their choir director snapped a picture with her mobile phone

Then we walked to the market hoping to see all the cowboys we were told so much about. As these were Asian cowboys . . .

InsteadInstead of horses there were ponies

Instead of wild bulls to lasso, there were fighting cocks to kill each other. The buzz and energy of the public market captured the essence of Maubisse. It was wonderful. And the characters we met along the way . . . phenomenal faces . . . I had to be really bold to stop them and ask for their portraits to be taken! Yogi never does the hard jobs . . .

How beautiful is this man?How beautiful is this man? Asian cowboy with glasses. After a few shots, he told us to go away!Asian cowboy with glasses. So many men had fighting cocks in their arms. It was like part of a man's dress code . . . He reigned over his produce of tobacco and betelnut as he graciously posed for usHe reigned over his produce of tobacco and betelnut and he graciously posed for us The And the finale, a pretty young girl. The future generation of Timor Leste!

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Comments


  • http://www.playagrande.co Bill

    I like the photos. Sounds like a great journey.

  • peixuan

    hello stella and yogi! i’m still reading your blog, the pictures are so beautiful! miss you both!

  • http://www.thepromise.or.kr hyewoon yang

    great photos with truly inspiring stories on Timor-Leste. we also have some project in Timor-Leste (Acumano village) and this blog keeps me fascinated.