Adventure Beauty

A picture and a thousand words

Beautiful sunrise over Tutuala Beach and Jaco Island, with my brother looking on in the foreground.

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.

View of the ocean/beach from the car window.
View of the coast from car window
We drove along the coastline for most of the way.
Me taking photos from the car window.
Taking lots of photos from the car.
Small, red bananas- I'm not sure what you would call them, but they're the best in the world.
Best bananas in the world! If you’re ever going through the turnoff to Lospalos in Timor-Leste, make sure to buy a bunch (or two) of these!
Our two cars in the middle of the dried up lake, ready for safari.
Dingle wanted to take us on safari through a dried-up lake to see the crocodiles. Hmm… turns out it wasn’t so dry, and we got bogged in the mud. We spent an hour digging the car out in vain, before praying (half jokingly) for a shovel… To everyone’s surprise, from under the right wheel of the Troopie, Dingle pulled out a shovel head that was buried in the mud! 😀 What an exciting and funny miracle, am I right? I think God was laughing along with us.
Someone wrote "help" into the dirt caked onto the car window.
No caption required
Un-bogged! The car, free from the mud, behind us, with the lake in the background.
A view down the bumpy road to Tutuala, Jaco Island in the distance.
Down the road to Tutuala Beach.

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. 🙂

My little brother looking at the layered blues of the ocean from the sands of Tutuala Beach.

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.

We had a bit of stormy weather while camping... slight clouds over the still vibrant blue ocean.
Another view of the blue, blueness of the ocean

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.

Shells and Fluxx (an excellent card game) arranged on the beach

My sister playing card games on holiday mode- sunglasses and sand.
Playing Fluxx– a great card game we only recently discovered.
The ocean at low tide, Jaco Island in the background

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!

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  • Reply
    Felicity Chapman
    March 16, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    Love it

  • Reply
    March 16, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    This is so wholesome uwu

  • Reply
    Gabby Francis
    March 16, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    You are just such a talented writer True. Well done on another amazing blog post!!!!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2019 at 7:25 am


  • Reply
    Sally Burton
    March 17, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Trudy, I loved your story. Camping is in my blood also and I’ve enjoyed many trips – in tents and now our motorhome. So love our ocean backyards, as well as our country escapes. The beauty of God’s creation is all around us and is so amazing.
    Thank you for sharing your holiday.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2019 at 8:34 am

    I enjoyed the read Trudy and the pics. Love ur work

  • Reply
    March 17, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Beautiful ?

  • Reply
    March 17, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Loved it. Friend of both of your grandma’s – Grandma Raya and Wendy. Grandma Raya sent me your link.

  • Reply
    Lorelei Slatter
    March 17, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I love it Trudy. You are doing really good.?

  • Reply
    March 25, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    This is just the sort of trip our family loves too — with all the ups and downs! You make me want to visit.

  • Reply
    Gabby Francis
    September 30, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Wow, I always think of things to say when reading it again and bumping up your page views?
    It was so cool. Amazing photos. When I re-read your posts like this i get warm fuzzy feeling of amazing, amazing memories. Like times when you just think, wow, this is one of the best times of my life. (Tutuala, Kimana, Oxford, Bath, Amboseli, Aturu, Gleno) So, thank you for making this memory come alive once again. You are a legend True. ? Thanks for being you (a legendary, amazing sista)

    • Reply
      Trudy Francis
      September 30, 2019 at 1:11 pm

      Thank you so much Gabby xx Love you

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