Unlike in Dili, the destruction wrought by the militias in 1999 is still visible everywhere in Oecusse.
All buildings constructed during the Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999 have been throughly burnt, only the brick walls left standing. Some historic buildings were destroyed too for good measure.
Schools and a medical clinic (puskesmas in Indonesian) have been rebuilt, but the ruins of the original buildings have been left standing.
1. The sisters running a Boarding School for Girls were forced to leave in 1975. The picture shows the ruins of their school at the beachfront. But the sisters are back since 2005 and their school has been rebuilt behind the ruins. They now host 48 girls.
2. The signboard says: Future branch office of the Banking and Payments Authority. Ruins of a bank office on the waterfront.
3. Ruins of a highschool, on the road to Lifau. A new building has been erected behind it, farther from the road.
4. Ruins of a clinic, on the road to Lifau. The dwellings for doctors and nurses were destroyed too, but new buildings are close by.
5. Ruins of the palace of the traditional king (raja) Antonio da Costa, on the beach front. He now lives in the thatched house visible in the background. "The people built this for me" he said.
Also on the road to Lifau we saw this Indonesian monument, which has outlasted its purpose.
The gate commemorates: "50 years of Indonesian independence" and "19 years of East Timor integration".
Four years after it was built the Timorese chose independence.
Behind the crosses on Lifau hill, our riders pointed out this heap of rock said to be the grave of a priest killed by disgruntled Timorese.
One has to take their word for it. And come to think of it, how many Timorese have been killed by their colonizer?
The Portuguese who landed here in 1515 probably climbed this hill to look over their newly discovered island.
If you are religiously minded, follow the path along the stations of the cross. Otherwise one can take shortcut uphill.
Or, for a little extra pay, your motorcycle boy may be willing to ride you to the top.
A must to see, although actually there is not much to see.
But one cannot go to Oecusse without having been at the spot where the Portuguese set foot on Timorese soil in 1515.
Do not leave without climbing the adjacent hill with Stations of the Cross. The views from up there are magnificent.