Jan 22, 2007 Monday
Irina has recovered from the Dili Belly bug; and we got our passports back from the Indonesian embassy. We've spent 10 days in East Timor and started to believe we had over estimated the danger level there and everything was just okeydokey. But two days before we left emergency vehicles were headed west in front of our hotel with sirens blaring and lights flashing. We learned later that two men had been hacked to death with machetes and their homes burned down.
Jan. 23, 2007 Tuesday,
Maya Beach Hotel, Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia [GPS 10 09.408S 123 35.121E]
From Dili we took a Paradise Tours bus across the Indonesian border to Kupang
. The 12 hour ride only took 11 hours due to the racing skill of our driver. There wasn't anything he couldn't pass even on the blind mountain curves. Passing in the face of oncoming traffic requires the cooperation of all three drivers. We gritted our teeth held our breath and closed our eyes. The driver took care to avoid hitting dogs, goats, water buffalo, and even chickens; still one indecisive dog bit the dust. People, on the other hand, are on their own in this contest, but they love to tempt fate by walking and even squatting on the edge of the tarmac while the bus passes within a foot of them. Speed is relative, we weren't really going that fast, it just seemed like it. This is not Interstate 75. There are few straight a ways and we probably only got up to 50 mph for short stretches. The road snakes through the mountains, switch backing down to valleys to cross a river, then switch backing up again, so that at points we could see the road on the other side of a valley which we'd traveled maybe 30 minutes before. Not even accounting for the curves, about a fifth of the distance we traveled was taken up swerving from one side of the road to the other to miss pot holes or to take the smoother path through ditches and wash outs at a crawl. Apparently the Paradise buses have a lot of respect on the roads here. The driver seemed to know every curve and pothole by heart and most of the other driver as well. Still it was already dark when we were dropped off at the Maya Beach Hotel in Kupang.