Legend has it that a giant crocodile transformed itself into the island of Timor. Crocodiles hold a special place in the history, culture and oral traditions of Timor-Leste.
Look at the map of Timor-Leste – does it resemble the shape of a crocodile you think?
Here’s how the story goes:
A young boy saw a small crocodile struggling to get from a lagoon to the sea. The boy picked the crocodile up and helped him. The crocodile was grateful and told the boy that if he ever needed help he should stand by the edge of the sea and call ‘crocodile!’
One day the boy needed to travel across the sea, so he called ‘Crocodile!’ he rode on the crocodile’s back. The crocodile took him on many journeys after that, but soon the crocodile’s instinct to eat the boy grew strong. The crocodile felt unhappy about this and asked the advice of many animals. They told him that he should not repay the boy’s kindness by eating him. The crocodile could not hurt his friend.
In time the crocodile grew very old. He told the boy that when he (the crocodile) died, he would change into a beautiful land where the boy and his children could live. The crocodile became the land of Timor.
During my recent trip to Timor-Leste, I managed to get quite near this crocodile that is being kept within fences at a police station in a quiet town in the highlands…
Ever wondered how the term ‘shedding crocodile tears’ came about?
For more photos of Timor-Leste, view here.