Working with local guides, our scientists were also helped by passers-by, especially curious kids. Entomologist Jacquie Rescei recalls some of her encounters with the people of Timor-Leste during the Museum's terrestrial expedition.
Why is the Australian Museum in Timor-Leste? To assist with conservation planning and more.
There were few places we went that curious kids did not appear. Usually with big grins and waves, accompanied by yells of 'malae' (foreigner). Kids on horses, bikes and on foot.
They were great. The younger ones were very friendly, cheeky and wanting to play. The older ones a little more watchful.
We saw some impressive new schools. One night in Same, we did some light collecting off the porch of the school, mainly because of the incessant rain. The school teacher came along and had a go at collecting form the light sheet. Initially wary (who isn’t wary of mad people setting up lights at night and catching insects?), he soon got into it and collected many moths.
There was so much rain in Same that the gutters raced. The kids came home after school and were surfing the gutters: getting in at the top of the road, lying down and zooming all the way down. It looked really, really fun. Horrifying too, but fun.
Dr Dave Britton wondered jokingly if the kids used umbrellas to prevent brain damage, the rain was that heavy. They didn’t do much else as the kids were wet through. Dave was extra fascinating to them because he is so tall.
The kids we met on the road were intrigued by the stuff we collected. I showed them a grasshopper in a tube and they promptly went off and caught five off them - pretty much squashed them in the process - but they were caught and there was much screaming and laughter.
Frank chased some kids down the road, pretending to be a monster. They screamed with fear and delight, ran away and then came back for more.
I particularly liked all their poses for the camera….. and the machetes. The brakes on their bikes were thongs shoved into the back wheel… I loved that too.