Jaco Island: When Sacred Joins Bumpy Roads
Last year, vacations were spent in Timor-Leste. A long-dreamed and hitherto delayed family trip. As it would be impossible to know the whole country, we chose some places that, for us, were a must visit, among them the island of Jaco.
We left Dili the day after our arrival, driving a car with the right-hand wheel and automatic changes.
Everything is different from what we are accustomed to, so focusing on driving, we ignored the warnings that the road was in bad shape.
Baucau is just over 120 kilometers from Dili, however, it took us about four hours to arrive.
The road was worse than we expected, narrow and full of holes. Motorcycles and minibusses were passing us at speeds that seemed dizzying.
On motorbikes, they follow entire families. The father, who leads, a child in front and another between the father and the mother.
We can not help it to feel surprised by the decoration of the microlets, with different representations, from the Spice Girls to Jesus Christ.
Sometimes at the top [of this buses there are] passengers and suitcases follow, and more rarely, goats. At every bend or bump, we fear that they will fall and land on the road ahead of us, but they will always balance again.
We take turns at the wheel of the car and the other passengers are pointing the obstacles: hole, berm, motorcycle, rocks, rooster, dog, buffalo …
We arrived in Baucau, had lunch at Amália Restaurant and resumed the trip.
Our guide advises us that the distance is now less, although the road is in worse condition.
It costs us to believe, but it’s true.
When we get to the Pousada de Tutuala it’s already dark. We are so tired that we eat dinner and go to bed.
The next day, we woke up early, and as we left the rooms, we held our breaths with the view: the lodge is situated on a promontory, and the sea stretches out along the green hillsides.
The garden has several trees where small monkeys roam. We leave. The distance is now much shorter, and the road, on the beaten track, is good.
We come to the front of the island of Jaco, where fishermen await visitors. Fish of various sizes and colors hang from the trees.
We chose two, one red and one to remember a sea bass, and soon after we were taken by one of the fishermen to the island of Jaco.
A narrow channel separates Timor from this island that seems to end in wide white sand that surrounds the center, a lush green.
We are the first people to get there.
Throughout the day the fishermen will bring other people, small groups that scatter along the beach.
The sand is very fine and the water is blue opal, transparent and warm. When diving, we see corals and fish of various colors and sizes.
Around noon, the fisherman returns. Bring the two grilled fish, seasoned only with salt and laid on palm leaves over a plastic rectangle. We ate the fish with our hands, accompanied by bread and water we had brought.
The sun is burning. We look for the shade of the trees, but the heat tightens.
We dive and we are surprised again by the color of the fish and the shape of the corals. In the middle of the afternoon, the fishermen return to take the people back. It is with regret that we realize that the day is ending and that we must return.
We know it’s the mix of the bumpy road, the sacredness and the ban on the island that keeps it deserted and wild.
We hope to one day go back and find “her” like this.
Travel Experience of Ana Vargas