Wow. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and you could just look at that picture and think of a thousand things. Beauty. Majesty. Peace. You can see the splendour, and find yourself longing to be some place like that. But while it might capture some of these things and feelings, a still picture cannot tell you about the adventure. The background to the people. The stories. The picture stirs up emotions, and triggers questioning and wondering, but the words will take you further. Using my words, you, the reader, can now explore more behind this stunning sunrise.
At the end of January this year, my family went on a quick, exciting camping trip to Tutuala Beach, just down from the Tutuala village, the furthest point to the east of Timor-Leste. According to Google Maps, the drive from Dili, the capital city, should be approximately 7 hours; we did it over two days, on the road (including many adventurous detours and pauses) for around 11 hours.
And I have to say, while the stunning beach we stayed at was incredible, and I will get to that, the drive itself was a huge highlight of the trip; after all, don’t they say “getting there is half the fun”?
For one, I love how family road trips become this uninterrupted family time, where we can talk and spend time for hours on end, whereas in day-to-day life, we simply do not have these endless hours. This goes one step further when there’s no phone reception, and the road is too bumpy to read :). While my littlest siblings were having a great time in the back of a troopie with our friend Dingle, my parents, Gabby and I had a rare, undisturbed opportunity to talk. Our conversations ranged from music, to movies, to books, to the world, and it was fantastic having a chance for us “big girls” just to talk to mum and dad.
We arrived at Tutuala Beach at around 3pm on the second day; dusty, tired and hoping it would be as amazing as we had heard. We weren’t disappointed. 🙂
The beautiful, undisturbed sands meeting the layered blues of the ocean was certainly a sight for sore eyes! We were awed by the splendour of it.
Our camping trip was incredible. We were only there two nights, but we filled the days well. Snorkelling the vibrant reef (something even my mum and I, the nervous snorkellers, enjoyed). Reading on the beach. Taking photos. Playing card games, and getting the cards all sandy. Walking down the beach. Watching the sunrise. My dad and Dingle went fishing from the inflatable kayak a few times, catching dinner, and a shark they reckon was about the size of Jack.
Of course, there were some difficulties to the camping trip, but they didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Most people would not choose to camp during the wet season, which, while it gave us the empty campsite with no other tourists, also meant we had to deal with the heat and stormy weather. Sleeping in a hot, sticky tent isn’t luxurious, but somehow the awesome location makes up for it completely. 🙂 We were blessed to still be able to swim, snorkel and relax, despite the occasional rain.
Funnily enough, the whole camping trip was really a plan to get over to Jaco Island (seen in the background of the image above). No-one lives on Jaco, and overnight stays are forbidden. Unless you make your own way across, the only way to get there is to pay one of the local fisherman to take you. We must have asked on a bad day: they didn’t want to take us. A little disappointing at the time; people rave about the beaches and snorkelling of Jaco; but funny now, that on our “trip to Jaco”, ended without us making it there. Also hard to imagine it could be much better than Tutuala Beach; we felt totally spoilt by the ‘private’ location that looked like a magazine cover.
Our family loves camping, but we don’t do it nearly as often as we’d like to. There’s something about roughing it in a tent and cooking your food on a portable stove that is so fun (we reckon all food tastes good when you’re camping- especially when you’re eating freshly caught fish and the best bananas on the planet). There are so many things I enjoy about camping: the time spent together, soaking up nature, star-gazing when the sky is clear, telling stories, making up stories, creating an experience you want to relive again and again. I am looking forward to the next camping trip we go on.
The peace of having the beach to ourselves definitely added to the relaxed vibe. Not to mention that the phone reception dropped out every now and then! My dad especially needs time to switch off every now and then, and he does it best at the beach. There must be a reason we often think of relaxation and the beach together. Sometimes we all need to completely switch off, and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy beauty. Hmm… maybe that’s something everyone needs to think of more often.
Road trip + camping + the beach equalled a magnificent time of rest for us as a family at Tutuala Beach!