Lost worlds

Last weekend, we were lost in cloud up near Ossu, on the pass below the Mundo Perdido mountain. We probably could not see more than four meters ahead of us. People, horses, houses, and turns in the road just bounced out of the background, becoming foreground at frightening speed.

A friend told me later about the top of the flat mountain, named after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book. There are flocks of wild horses, monkeys, lakes, vast stretches of green grass that he described as “golf course” like, rock cairns and many lulik places. To get up there it was a four or five hour huff up waterfalls and riverbeds, and only advisable with local guides.

There are places and people here that we often do not even know exist. They do not appear to us. (The word “mosu” comes to mind in Tetum.)

That same trip, we came across a large public meeting in Wailili I believe. It could have been any kind of routine meeting. But we noticed lots of RDTL flags, and there was a table and formal speeches going on. I hopped out, with caution, to find out what was on. A sullen guy on a motorbike, a good 50m from the event, scowled that it was an “esclarecimento” by CPD-RDTL. We were clearly not welcome.

Shortly after, we stopped in to visit the Parish Priest in Ossu, and ask about their archive and records. I very meekly asked if it might be possible to see baptism records from as early as they have them. I was taken back to the Parish Archive, which was buzzing with activity on a Saturday. There were heaps and heaps of type-written long sheets with names, dates of birth, priceless genealogical information, seemingly out of order and in wads of paper clearly suffering in the moist mountain air. But we were reassured that the information was being copied over carefully into new notebooks. What Ossu Parish really wants is a scanner to scan all of the papers, dating from just after the “reoccupation” from the looks of it. And they told us, if you are amazed by this, you need to see Soibada’s archive, they have saved records since the 1890s.

I am discovering lost worlds in Dili: I stumbled into a malai party on Friday that had the distinct air of some kind of reality TV series. I fled.

And yesterday I was given a catch-up on the luxury residential compounds in Dili – there are more and more of them, lost worlds, and heavily guarded ones.


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