Week 8 in Dili
29 August – 3 Sept
This week has been very trying and tiring. We are finding out about the importance of communication and logistics in a project such as ours. Example, I drove for five hours to get to Natabora in the south to observe some schools with the girls who are my accompaniers in the district. Day 1 was fine. Day 2, I turned up at school to meet the girls after 1 ½ hours driving, only to find that they weren’t there. Our boss had told them they had to go to the Municipal Office to pick up their pay. Three hours away. He did not think to tell me and did not tell the girls to tell me. I was not happy. When I rang him, he blamed numerous other people. Visiting the schools by myself is not an option as I have no Tetun and they have no English. Very hard to communicate anything.
I decided that I would rather drive back to Dili than spend the next 24 hours in a Madres with no air con, no phone coverage or internet, no English, no shops at all in the town and nothing to see except road works. So, off I went, 1 ½ hours back to pick up my bags and then five hours back to Dili. After eight hours in the car I had cooled down.
Saturday morning there is a walking group that takes off at about 7am. Each week we go on a different walk and this week our route was along the beach towards the airport and then through a village. Our start was delayed by the Xanana 10k International Run. The front runners were very fast. They raced past with police motorbikes zig zagging in front of them. Not sure what that safety rule was all about. Then the middle runners came along. More police motorbikes and then support motorbikes getting in the way of each other and the runners. Once the ambulance went past at what we thought must be the tail end of the runners, the police let all the cars that had been blocked from entering the roads through. Unfortunately, this is when all the slower runners made an appearance. They had to finish their race by simply joining the road traffic on the way to Timor Plaza. We could only hope that no one was injured.
My weekends are usually about relaxing. A massage is on my must-do list. Always a good thing after driving on rough roads for hours. A walk to the white beach, Areia Branca, to meet friends for coffee and brunch. This Sunday, I met my house mates and a couple of others for lunch at a Thai-Lebanese restaurant right on the water. We were the only customers. The food was great. We spent most of the afternoon just sitting watching the ocean and talking. Very relaxing.
I don’t even feel that I am wasting my time. Like everyone else here, there are no gardens to weed, lawns to mow, housework, shopping, visiting relatives, mending things in the house, doing DIY or building stuff. It only takes a phone call to get a few people together to do something. The best part of it all is that everything is so close and transport is easy. Taxis, microlets, cars and I even risked getting on the back of a motorbike.
There are some great restaurants with spectacular views here in Dili. Apparently when the UN was here you had to book but now sadly, they are very empty. The prices, while they seem pretty low to us, are too high for the Timorese and there are too many restaurants and not enough ex-pats to fill them. There are lot of volunteers, but they do not have the money to eat out all the time in the good restaurants.