Explore The Village

It takes half an hour to walk from the church at one end of town to the Pousada Ramelau at the other end (assuming you don’t get distracted along the way!). It is a beautiful walk, the views unfold, the people are friendly and the town is extremely interesting.

Click here  to download a printable version of the walk description.

We recommend you start your walk at the entrance to the church.

1. The church is on the left hand side as you enter the village. You can see it located down a winding road with old stone gates. You are welcome to drive down to the church (but park before the fence) or walk down. Look inside the church if it is open and the weekly mass is not being held and glimpse the yellow house to the left where the padre lives and various vegetable gardens that are part of the church grounds. Directly in front of the church is a sacred tree on the base of a circle of stones used as an altar during traditional ceremonies.  The placement of the church nearby links traditional animist beliefs with the Catholic religion.  Notice the remnants of the gates built during the Indonesian period at the road entrance.

On the left as you walk down the road to the church, see the footings that have been constructed to build a new and bigger church. The community have contributed to the building of the footings through their labour by providing stones and cement. To complete the church, contributions will need to be drawn from the community. The importance of building a bigger church to accommodate parishioners is an indication of the value placed on faith in Timor Leste.  A new secondary school is also planned for the site and this will serve the sub-district.

Mass is held on Sunday morning and the service starts at 7.30 am. You are welcome to attend. Community announcements are made as an adjunct to the service. The church is central to building community as well as maintaining community standards.

2. At the church intersection you will see preparations for a new guesthouse. Extensive stone walls have been built around the site.  Locals say that a new hotel is being built there.  Notice the impact of recent rain.

 3. The road winds down into the village, passing by the town administration office on the left. This is the white building with lawn in front.  It is the administration office for Hatobuilico Sub-District and houses three permanent staff and other mobile government workers.  You might see people from the community waiting to speak with the staff or perhaps for government services (rice program or aged pensions for example).

4. Next door, a little further down and set back from the road, you will see a white and green building that is the local health post. Gardens with cabbages or corn are tended by the service’s security guard. On a typical morning, you will see women with babies tied to their fronts standing in the sun along the hedged entrance path or sitting patiently on the veranda waiting to visit the nurse.  Mana Diana was a sole worker until mid- 2011 when she was joined by a volunteer nurse from Australia.

5. Behind the health post are two other community buildings. The small building with the yellow roof and the open meeting room is the office of the Chefe du Suco for NunomogueSuco (which includes Hatobuilico village). Community meetings are also held here. The same design of the chefe’s office can be seen all over Timor Leste.  The rectangular white building behind is the Youth Centre (Centro Juventude). Recently constructed, this is a venue for youth programs. You will see an old market building behind.

6. In this sector you will find a large cemetery. This cemetery contains some significant and well-built graves and headstones. Notice that families pay considerable respect to members who have passed on. We ask that you take care when visiting and respect that this is a sacred place.

7. Continuing along the road, you come to an imposing yellow building,PousadaAlecrim. This pousada is owned by Senor Alexandre de Araujo and his wife. Senor Alexandre plays an important role in leadership within the village. His pousada has been slowly developed over the years, adding extra beds and verandas as well as building walls and gardens. Even if you are not staying there you are most welcome to visit.

8. Directly to the right and up a set of white steps is a grotto (“GrutuAsqnesa”)dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

9. At the next corner as you cross a small bridge, see an old cemetery built on both sides of the road.  You are welcome to visit the cemetery and share the space with grazing ponies or women gathering the mint that grows wild there. Take care where you place your feet because some of the graves are hard to see.

10. Rounding a corner you will see the road to Mt Ramelau on your left. If you go up the road a few metres you will see the community centre on your left. Feel free to visit and talk with the staff there. The community centre was renovated by a team of volunteers from Rotary in Bright, Victoria, Australia in October 2011 and now houses an adult learning centre program as well as a kindergarten and activities for children after school. You might come across a group attending an English class, students learning to use a computer, or children repeating the alphabet. The programs here are funded by the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia who have a friendship relationship with the Hatobuilico community. Encourage them along!

11. Directly behind the Community Centre are the gardens of the Rae Hato Catholic Church project. This project has been under development since 2008 and is now growing organic vegetables specifically for restaurants, hotels and supermarkets in the Dili market.  You can view the gardens through the gates and also if you walk a little way up the hill, you can look down on the gardens and see the full scope of the activity.

12. The next building on the left is the new Police Station. Directly opposite is the old Police Station, now providing occasional accommodation for police officers staying in town overnight.

13. At the end of the street, you will see the PousadaRamelau (the old Portuguese guesthouse). Whether open or not, you should visit, walk in the gardens and enjoy the magnificent ambience of the site. The pousada was renovated in late 2011 with a significant financial commitment made by the Timor Leste government. The restoration has been extensive and faithful, maintaining the original features of the building and site while including modern features for the comfort of visitors.  The building has been largely unused since independence though in some years visitors could stay there with the site under the management of local people. It has been very exciting for the community to see this important building restored and in use again.

14. At the turn of the street, you will see where the twice weekly markets are held. While the white market building provides refuge from rain at some times of the year, the community prefer to set out their wares on the side of the road. Markets are held on Saturday and Wednesday mornings and are well worth visiting. You will find great food plus many items to buy, photos to take and people to talk to. You will be welcomed!

15. If you follow the road next to the market, you wind your way down the hill and across the bridge over a stream at the bottom then up the slope to the old Hatobuilico village (Hatobuilico Lau). This was the original town which was later relocated to its current site because of better access to water.  This part of the town is very interesting to visit. In the centre of the town on the right you will see a sacred house or umalulik. Please observe local customs – refrain from entering the building unless invited to do so. Please ask permission before taking photos. Further on the left hand side, set on a small hill, is an old cemetery. In Hatobuilico Lau you will see a range of housing styles.  Hatobuilico Lau was where Australian soldiers hid from Japanese forces during WWII.

16. The road from here continues to Taurema, Nunomogue and Ainaro. You should consider taking a guide if you want to progress further.  It is 1.5 hours walk to Taurema and about 3.5 hours to Nunomogue one way.

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