The participants, coming from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, specially appreciated the hospitality of the Atoni people and expressed hopes for promising future of the tourism in the enclave
As the evening of 31st of July approaches, the crew of Anastasia and Madam Lau boats that participated in the Darwin-Dili Yacht Rally leaves Pante Macassar, Oé-Cusse and continues their journey along Savu Sea. These are the last two boats of a total of three that spent the weekend in Oé-Cusse exploring the region and learning about the local culture. The third one, Complexity, already started its journey to Kupang, Indonesia, on Sunday. In total, there were twelve travelers coming from different parts of the world – including Australia, New Zealand, United States and Germany – that had an opportunity to experience the lifestyle of Atoni people (locals from Oé-Cusse) and the culture of its community during three days.
Regional Secretary of Community Tourism, RAEOA-ZEESM TL, hosted complementary guided tours, with the aim of piloting community based tourism packages in Oé-Cusse region and assessing needs and expectations of tourist, when visiting the destination. Furthermore the team also observed the responsiveness and interaction of communities with the visitors and potential needs for capacity building.
The team presented both beach side and highlands of Oé-Cusse through visits to rural areas and interaction of tourists with local community. The first stop during the tour was in Oesilo. There, the travelers could enjoy meeting the local community, who welcomed them with the traditional dance and a local produce tasting. In addition, the crew had the chance to learn about how the Tais – the main component of the regional costume of Timor-Leste – is woven and why the Oesilo ones are the most famous in the country. After that, they visited the Mud geysers and the border market (Mercado Fronteira), where travelers could better understand the social and economic relationship that exists between Indonesia and Timor-Leste beyond their political borders.
On Saturday, the travel continued to Sucu Usi-Takeno, Aldeia Nibin, which was organized in collaboration with Regional Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development, through department of Agro-Industry. In Nibin, travelers could visit the integrated farming and fish ponds, mainly led by women groups. This area is under consideration for future agro-tourism development.
After a twenty minute walk through the tropical woods with the local community, the visitors tasted freshly picked coconut and learned about the agricultural practices of the region. But certainly, the main point of the agenda was at lunch time, when the visitors had a unique opportunity to participate in the inauguration of a traditional sacred house – “Ume Le’u”, in baikeno language – in Qiubiselo, Oesilo. Here, the visitors participated in the traditional dance “Bso’ot”, wearing “Bano” ankle bells, “Tais” (the woven textile) and “Inuh” necklace. Later on, they visited the inside of one of the traditional houses and learned about rituals and gatherings performed there. The visitors expressed great satisfaction and gratitude for having an opportunity to so closely intervene with the community, whereas the locals of Nibin enjoyed having visitors and sharing experiences.
Complementary tours ended on Sunday with a four-hour hike through a river stream and a visit to the stunning waterfall “Sacred Fountain”. The visit included performance of a traditional ritual, by a local village chief, who asked for permission from ancestors to access the sacred area of the waterfall.
After these three intensive days of cultural immersion in Oé-Cusse, visitors expressed hopes for promising future of the tourism in the enclave and wanted to highlight the hospitality of the Atoni people.