National Geographic : 1943 Sep
357 Timor a Key to the Indies our base camp, it was my lot to make regular horseback trips to Dili. There were no good roads and for the sake of speed I traveled light, taking a couple of extra riding horses for relays and enough pack horses to insure against overloading any for the hard climbs. Native Timor horses are small but sturdy, and it is remarkable how they can get over the rough country with relatively heavy bur dens. They have very tough hoofs and, for tunately, the shoeing problem is absent. As a result of being handled by the natives, they are usually mean little brutes. However, they respond to good treatment, and we soon became fond of our regular mounts (p. 365). Scattered throughout the island are rest houses built by the military as an aid to the traveler. During the dry season, I preferred to make camp in the open or at best on the porch of these thatched huts; but when the rainy season came, I made an effort to seek their shelter whenever the journey could be so planned. Usually there would be a few na tive huts in the vicinity where a chicken or fruit or coconuts might be purchased. Portuguese Were Royal Hosts Portuguese hospitality was delightful at the military posts, although the visitor had to fur nish his own bed. The commandant would do all in his power to entertain a guest, pro viding excellent food with the best grade of Portuguese wine. Wine was one of the chief imports of the island and was admitted duty free from the mother country. The natives designate the turbulent Timor Sea on the south Tassi Mand (Male Sea) and the quieter Savu Sea on the north Tassi Feto (Female Sea). My first trip across the island was from Baucau, on Tassi Feto, south to Beaco, the port of Viqueque on Tassi Mane. A sloping plateau with a succession of coral terraces extends south from Baucau almost to Vinilale, where the surface elevation is 2,700 feet. In traveling southward we rode past the large spring of Fatu Maca and on to that of Bu Bui Cai, where the natives had dug a ditch to carry the water several miles to their rice paddy. These ingeniously constructed ditches or flumes follow the contour of the hill with just enough slope to make the water flow to the fields (page 364). In the lowlands netting is needed for pro tection against malaria-infected mosquitoes. Not so in the highlands. There the water and air are better, and living conditions in general are more healthful, with the result that the natives are larger and more robust than the lowland dwellers. Since it was wintertime for the Southern Hemisphere, our day at Vinilale C. K. Bontz Rat- and Thief-proof Granaries Are Built High Above Ground With tight thatch to shed rain and wide platforms to baffle interlopers climbing the tree trunks, these caches, somewhat resembling those used by Alaska In dians, are safe storage places for foodstuffs.