8 – 19 August 201
We hardly knew anything about Timor-Leste as we plunged in head first to photograph it. Upon arriving at the airport, we immediately noticed UN presence. There were a lot of men in uniform and loads of vehicles with the UN logo. And yet we were told, their presence had shrunk considerably the past few years as they are slowly pulling out of East Timor. Peace was finally at hand. A short history of this place can be read in a website called East Timor Now and this website gives a pretty good overview of the country now through pictures and some good background information.
I was born and raised in the Philippines and I felt a stronger kinship here in East Timor I had not felt in other parts of the Coral Triangle – first because of the Catholic faith and second because we too struggled and freed ourselves from many years of oppression. The efforts this country is doing to raise itself from the ruins of its recent past is so admirable and it is heartwarming to see the world respond. They recently finished their 2nd Tour de Timor and are, at this very moment, having their inaugural Timor-Leste Underwater Photo Competition to bring in attention to its splendid marine life for it is, after all, the 6th country of the Coral Triangle!
Gleaning is done every low tide when the shallow reefs are easily accessible for people to walk out and gather marine life along the way till the edge of the reef. The favorite targets are bivalves, gastropods, crustacean, seaweed, sea cucumbers, octopus, and small fish.
And in some areas along the esplanade, fishermen and vendors displayed and sold their fish by the road where cars would stop and buy what they needed to take home for dinner.
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