This weekend marked the end of Timor’s second-ever Festival Kafe Timor, and as a diehard coffee drinker seeking any excuse for a trip out of the city, I joined with a pair of friends to attend the festival’s closing ceremony a few hours out of Dili in mountainous Maubisse.
Beautiful, unassuming Maubisse town, viewed from the old Portuguese pousada at the top of the hill
I’ve only been to Maubisse once before — a short stop on our way to Mount Ramelau — but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite places in Timor. Cool mountain air, craggy eucalypt forests, tightly whorled cabbages dotted in neat lines on rolling hills of green farmland. Kids in politics T-shirts grinning shyly in the markets; hazy-eyed women with betel-stained teeth selling stacks of corn cobs and mustard greens and swollen ripe tomatoes. A dusty main street blaring horns and motorbikes and a sweeping calm vista across the hills. It feels small enough that the person who sells the vegetables in the market is the person who grew them; large enough for a guest house where you don’t have to BYO food. Calm and present.
Photos from the road: stopping for lunch in Aileu, checking the views (scenery and Facebook) en route, a bag of 50c/bunch kale safely secured to the bike
It was a quick, 24-hour trip — just enough time to watch certificates for Timor’s best coffee being handed out; try some sitting on the porch of the Leublora Green School, looking out over precise terraces spilling over with flowers and strawberries; have dinner with the festival’s exhausted organising committee; play a round of cards; eat breakfast paun and drink sweet tea at the Cafe Maubisse and say goodbye to friends unexpectedly at the festival, too, before hitching a ride back to Dili. My friends continued — staying another night in Maubisse before heading further into the mountains for hiking in Hautobulico — but I’ll wait for waterfalls and hiking until my next trip to the area. Work was waiting back in Dili.
While it’s barely a four-hour drive from Dili to Maubisse, the Dare World War II Memorial and Projecto Montanha cafe and handicraft store make excellent stopping points along the way. On the way from Dili, we stopped at both to tourist, drink juice and eat lunch; on the way back home, we stopped just at Projecto Montanha in Aileu town, less than an hour out of Maubisse (you don’t need a rest yet — especially with the brand-new road! — but driving straight past their passionfruit juice may be criminal).
(Is it even a foreigner’s Timor-Leste blog if you don’t mention the quality of the road?).
The view of Dili from the Dare memorial
Dili friends: where’s a good restaurant with couches? Two dusty, tired kids rolled down from the mountains and straight to Metiaut to inhale green papaya salad and snooze on the Thai triangle pillows at Little Pattaya restaurant late on Sunday afternoon.
Lunch and a nap post-drive. This may be my favourite restaurant in Dili
A lovely little weekend away and a reminder, as always, of how nice it feels to come home. See you soon, Maubisse.