A new country brings with it many challenges in every day life. But as we are discovering whenever we visit the market, a new country holds many mysteries too.

On most days, when we visit the market, there is an item that we wonder, “What is that?” And while we have enough Tetun to ask the question, we don’t usually understand the answer we are given, so we are left with three options… live with the curiosity, ask someone who speaks English what the items are, or buy it, taste it and see!

So we thought for this week’s journey into life and culture in Timor, we would show you some of the items we have curiously pondered over! Let us know if you have tried them or if you have any more information for us!

jambu small

fruit picking smallMystery 1.

This is fruit we have seen growing on trees nearby and being sold by children at their gates. We then discovered it on the tree in our front yard. The neighbour’s kids call it Jambu and Sam helped knock some from the tree over the weekend so we too could taste it. Tastes a bit like a nashi pear really.

dried fruit stick small

Mystery 2.

This dried fruit, we think, has had Sam intrigued from our first market trip. It is a fruit dried on a stick and is sold at many locations. Sam spent his pocket money one day to taste it and see what it was like. The dried objects are as hard as rocks, as taste a lot like nothing. We tried sucking them to see if they would soften, but with no success. In the end, we gave the rest of the stick to the neighbours, who accepted it very happily. What did we do wrong? Any ideas anyone?


mystery item small


Mystery 3.

Another mystery item we have seen are these orange chip like items. They seem to be laid out and drying in the sun, but look like they are plasticy Pringles. No idea what these are, or what they are for!

Soursop small

Mystery 4.

An item we have been able to ask about, identify and enjoy has been soursop. A yummy asian fruit, with great big black seeds to spit out. We haven’t yet mastered how to know when they are ripe, as we seem to buy under ripe or rotten ones, but we will keep trying. We have been told they make a great ice cream too. Mmmmmm.

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Mystery 5.

Mystery white squishy substance in a plastic bag! Any ideas? Our best guess is tofu!


Sunday lunch 450 small

Mystery 6.

Last weekend was a holiday weekend here in Dili. Everywhere on the street corners, we saw these bundles made of leaves. We were curious about what was inside them, and even tried taking photos of them as we drove around the round about. Guaranteed way to get blurry photos every time. However, when we went out for lunch on Sunday we were surprised to see these cool little leaf containers on our plates. Opening them up, we found they were actually holding our rice to go with our lunch! Such an artistic way to present your food, much nicer then plastic containers! It seems a shame to rip them open to eat your food.

Food sellers small

Mystery 7.

We have mentioned before that many young men have moveable stalls who often walk past our gate selling mysterious items. They have a bike horn they honk loudly to attract attention. I always feel bad that i haven’t bought anything from one of these stalls yet, so yesterday as lunchtime approached and i had no idea what to make, the moment arrived. As the man with a stall honked his way past our gate, i asked Jason, who is always up for a challenge, to go and see what they were selling. He returned with something on a stick, it was some kind of meat, but a little squishy and unusual in its smell and texture. The neighbour kids who were playing in our yard, agreed with Jason’s hen impersonations, that yes he was eating chicken, but we weren’t so sure.

snake small

Mystery 8.

The final mysterious item, is another we found lying out in the sun one day. I loved the colours of the edges and wondered what it was. A group of teenagers were nearby and as they asked me questions for their english class, i asked them what this was. Their answer surprised me, “Snake!” they said. My face must have shown my disbelief in their answer, so i proceeded into a game of charades to confirm their answer. Yes charades is a popular game here as it can sometimes be your only means of communication when you left your tetun dictionary at home. They were adamant it is snake, but i still have my doubts! Can anyone enlighten me on the truth?