Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jesus' Backside

Yesterday, Asha and her two friends from the UN took me to the outskirts of the city for a beach party. East Timor is an incredibly mountainous country, currently in the middle of the dry season, making it an ideal time to head to the water. Dili, the capital, is surrounded by an enormous reef, beyond which is the second deepest trench in the world (behind the Marinana trench) and diving/snorkeling/water sports here are a big deal.

Our drive took us down beach road, past the President's palace (since the assassination attempt on President Ramos-Hortas' life in February, it's been guarded by Pakistani UN soldiers, but because we were in a UN car they didn't give us any trouble) and through brown, craggy, dry mountains. The road, surprisingly, was paved, but quite narrow and there are no guardrails to be had. We drove past some burned out houses, left over from what I could only guess was either the 24 years under brutal Indonesia rule, the 1999 violence or the most recent riots in 2006. At any rate, we kept driving.

At the very end of a peninsula on the east side of Dili is a very large statue of Jesus, with his outstretched hands towards the sea. (East Timor is 90% Roman Catholic). This statue is pretty much the only landmark along the ocean, and there's quite a nice beach behind known locally as (you guessed it) Jesus' Backside Beach.

As Lucy, one of Asha's friends noted, "It looks like two peaches in a sack".

I can neither confirm nor deny this. JC's bottom was really high on the hill while we were at the beach, so I'll just have to take her word for it. Perhaps someday before I leave I'll take the trail up to the top to see his front-side, but for now I'll just let it be.

But it was a looovely beach. Fine sand, almost deserted, blue-green bottom (filled with sharp rocks though!) and we had more than enough food/alcohol to sustain us until dark. I arrived home dirty, exhausted and funned-over.

Today, I'm working a bit in the morning and then ... off to another beach!

Photos to come soon, I promise. I'm just too lazy (and the internet too slow) for me to post them every day.

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