Our final snorkel was completed and our bags were packed ready to go, so we now sat sipping our final beers at Barry’s as we awaited the arrival of our boat back to Dili.
As mentioned in past updates, we had tried to arrange a Water Taxi to pick us up for the return trip whilst in Dili two days earlier (they were going to contact Barry’s to let us know, but never did), but thankfully the Barry’s staff had said no problem, we can arrange a boat for you.
So as you can imagine, it came as some surprise when a staff member advised that the Water Taxi appeared to be here to collect us!
This seemingly put us in a bind. Here was a boat ready to collect us, and moments later we found the 2nd boat was here. We explained the situation to the staff, and they confirmed we should go with the boat we had booked through them, and that was that.
Not only was it a beautiful voyage over relatively calm seas (I’m sure I’ve overused beautiful as a means of describing this place, however it really is difficult to convey how picturesque and unspoilt much of this country appears to be), but there were a couple of notable highlights to come from it.
Our vessel was shared with an Australian family who had also been staying at Barry’s and it was through them that a small passage was pointed out in our Lonely Planet guidebook, referring to the 1991 Indonesian massacre of 200+ East-Timorese at Dili’s Santa Cruz cemetery.
This is viewed globally as a turning point in the struggle for Timor-Leste’s independence, as it created global sympathy and support for this oppressed, local population. And the reason the world was able to view this event uncensored, was a result of the bravery of several international journalists, one an Englishman by the name of Christopher Wenner (who often uses the alias, Max Stahl) who was actually wounded during the event (you can see some of his footage, and Max himself here).
Now the reason this had significance was that unbeknownst to us, we had actually spent the past 2 days on Atauro, sharing Barry’s Place with Max and his family. It was quite humbling to find we’d been in the presence of a man whose actions had done so much to aid this country in its fight for freedom.
The breeze off the water provided us some relief, and we were most thankful for the canopy on the boat, as it was indeed another hot day.
When we’d traveled about half of the 30km back to Dili, we were presented with a treat indeed. Several shapes were spied in the distance, and before we knew it, our vessel was surrounded by a pod of Dolphins, many of which spectacularly launched themselves in pairs, into the air.
Just when the excitement had faded and we’d felt the Dolphins had been left behind, the rejoined us for a 2nd display of acrobatics, providing us with some of the highlights of our whole trip.
From the time that our Dolphin friends parted company with us, it really made the remainder of the journey fairly dull in comparison. Still it wasn’t long before we were again on the Dili waterfront, making our way to the local backpackers hostel, ready for a fresh adventure.