In any other country in the world, a place like the Postu would be something you’d have to see with a tour guide, or with people crawling all over it, squatting in the buildings, or all the old buildings would have been knocked down and it’d be a bustling town square, all modernised. This is the reason why I keep telling people they should come see Timor: you get to see things like you do not get to see them in other places. You’re a tourist, sure, but you’re the ONLY tourist. It’s not sanitised. You have to work things out for yourself. And maybe you get some of the info wrong, but so do tours. I found out that the school building was a school , an agricultural high school, when I was making a little map for myself. One of the squatters (I reckon I saw about ten people up the top at various times), a young guy, came to peer interestedly over my shoulder as I drew, and I thought I’d try to confirm my guess.
And you know, he liked that I was there. In crappy Bahasa and Tetum (mine, not his), we chatted and he wanted to know where I was from, thinking I was Portuguese. I explained my parentage as best I could and he was very pleased, as people sometimes are (‘Timor ho Australia, kolega diak!’ – Timor and Australia are good friends!).
Timor needs tourism and they certainly have the attractions. They just haven’t worked out how to tell anyone they exist, or let anyone get things off the ground. Apparently a guy called Jeff (I did meet him briefly) lives in the pink-and-white house, and wants to turn it into a little hotel... but it’s very hard for foreigners to do anything like that in Timor, you’re just not allowed to own property. In Dili Aussies run pubs, but it seems to be classed differently. It’s a real shame.