Posted by: rlearmonth | June 8, 2008

Seasons Change

A Road up the Mountain

Timor-Leste is now solidly in the Austral winter, with clear skies, cool early mornings and hot, sunny afternoons. It is harvest time, and the markets are full of vegetables and fruits, and coffee is being harvested in the mountains.

Last weekend, a friend and I rode up into the mountains of the Ermera District, where some of the best Timorese coffee is grown. The “road” up to the far reaches of Ermera is barely a road at all. There are stretches, especially in the steep switchbacks, that are washed out and deeply rutted and full of large, loose stones. At times, I was not sure I could get up some of the slopes, even on a motorcycle. It is hard to imagine trucks getting up and down the road carrying coffee to processing stations – but they do. Farmers spread their coffee beans on mats in front of their houses, and even on the road, to dry in the sun (and providing yet another challenge to driving on the road). As we rode over the top of the mountain and began to decend, we were riding through a cloud.

The scenery into the mountains is stunning. Poinsettias, hibiscus, bougainvillea, oleander and ground flowers that look like daisies and other wildflowers grow in profusion here, and all are blooming furiously. In places, the road is lined with bright red blooms of poinsettias and hibiscus. Small, wild orchids also grow in the mountains, although I haven’t seen them. The road skirts beautiful alpine meadows, where there is paddy rice and vegetable cultivation. We stopped along the way to buy a few bananas and tangerines at small stands by the side of the road, usually manned by children.

After seven hours of bucketing up and down the mountains, we finally hit the beach road and rode back to Dili.



  1. What an adventure! What a grand experience. Happy Father’s Day. Anna and Chris and theboys will be moving to southern Maryland in mid July. we’re really looking forward to it.

  2. Wow. Any pictures?

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