Back in 1996, when East Timor was still considered as a province of Indonesia, then President Suharto has unveiled the Cristo Rei statue as a gift and to appease the predominantly Catholic Timorese.
Situated at the beautiful coast line and open beach of Cape Fatucama, Cristo Rei is easily reachable from downtown Dili, either via private car, taxi, motorbike or do as what I usually do- walk.
It takes 500 steps or so to reach the statue while passing by several niches showing the Station of the Cross. The pathway is covered with trees and it is nice to stop by each station to read both the English and Tetun (Timor language) version of the station.
On my way up I was accompanied by two groups; kids who are playing at entrance and teenagers who just finished swimming at the beach and now heading up to the statue where more friends were waiting for them.
Despite the very hot Dili afternoon, climbing the stairs is easy and fun, the view keeps getting better and better as I reach higher elevation.
What I can only assume is the offered free ride from the government is how most of the locals reached the beach area. How they squeeze happily on the yellow truck with one leg out is a sign of a worthy visit and over-all good weekend.
There are picnic huts and benches scattered at Cristo Rei, they are often occupied by families who bought packed lunch and snacks with them. I can’t count how many times I was invited for a meal- a stranger with a camera and that is a true testament to how warm and open Timorese are.
The beach side is quite pleasant, clean and good place for a swim. The only annoying side has to be the motorcycle riders with their noisy engine zooming back and forth at the street across.
When there is nothing else to do or nowhere else to go in Dili, which is the real case, Jesus statue at the beach is the answer.