Dili has a lot of dust; so many people are out early in the morning, with hoses or buckets, to spread water outside houses and businesses, so it looks as though a mini shower has hit the area. Within an hour or so the moisture has evaporated, allowing the passing cars, trucks, scooters, bicycles and feet to start their daily stir-up.
Down at the ANZ Bank, many tellers wear facemasks, as the dust manages to filter indoors from the busy street corner. Tomorrow I will be visiting that bank to collect my new EFTPOS card; with it I can make use of the 7-8 ATMs located in town – come to think of it, that might be the total for the country.
Being on a limited budget I have to decide this week whether to buy a bicycle or a washing machine. The latter options start at US$185 and, even though it has an Indonesian design award for 2009 and it's rather tinny, in a plastic sort of way.
Installation back at the house will be interesting, as I will need to buy some extra hose to connect the water supply in my bathroom’ (no actual bath – but a good 40 litre plastic bin + scoop) to the machine.
It is an interesting series of requirements, along the lines of the challenge NASA had with Apollo13 and jury-rigging an oxygen cleaning system with some odd components.
My situation involves:
· an outside electric pump with some creative electric wiring that will be a concern in the wet season (no cover from the elements & it provides water next door as well, but goes through my power meter, hmmm)
· water supply appears inside the house (short hose over the 40 litre bin)
· washing machine will need to be positioned outside the bathroom door and extra hose purchased to provide water a way in and a way out
· Power extension cord too (secret is too keep everything dry & suspend cables on the wall)
My ‘Banana-grams’ game was played before and after the eating phase (timing is everything). It has proved popular with the Scrabble players rising to the challenge. Rather too well; still I am welcome, as I provide the game and make up the numbers :-(
With work, eight of us went out to Manatuto (about 60-70km) on Wednesday in two vehicles to discuss how a new finance system, 'Abacus', will be introduced (replacing masses of manual entries and spreadsheets). I am not a good traveler and the driver didn’t help my condition during the 90 minute drive over twisty hill roads by the coast.
He had a tape that appeared to be an Indonesian version of Country and Western. The songs all sounded the same and it was on a loop ('A Walk in the Black Forest' or Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits would have been eagerly accepted as alternatives)
The speed varied from 5km/h (no seal at all and heavily rutted) to 100km/h (seal hadn’t broken up yet).
Transitions from fast to slow were achieved by quick and heavy braking
Accelerations were done in as high a gear as possible, with low ‘gas’ so it sounded as though we were frequently about to stall.
The road frequently narrowed, so getting around some corners was only one vehicle at a time. The rule seems to be that you toot your horn to warn those going the other way and head on around…. This is a sure cure for boredom and keeps those people on motor scooters, very aware of other traffic. In our turn, there were some large trucks going about their business too - this is the main road East from Dili.
The roads are worse than last time (when I was here in 2006-7) in that there are more holes, ruts and general break up of the road edges and surface.
An indicator of how much this has slowed down traffic generally, is that the villagers along the route no longer place piles of rocks on the road to slow down the trucks, vans, SUVs and scooters – the non-flat surface appears to be doing a good job as judder bars (UK=silent policeman).
Despite missing breakfast, it took another three hours, after we stopped, for my appetite to kick back in.
The views over the sea (coastal road) were very nice and there were many local canoes pulled up with bamboo outriggers; one on each side. One of these days I’ll go out on the sea in one of them (bought my paddle from NZ, as one does).
The previous resident of this house, another VSA Chris, left a special tennis racket behind. It is a favourite of many people here, as the strings are actually metal and there are batteries in the handle; so it is really a mobile ‘buzz bar’. When those mosquitoes come visiting, I just have to press the button and do a simple fore hand/back hand swing. If my aim is good, then there is neat wee ‘bang!’ and a spark (if you are a Jaine Buddhist, then I apologise)
My Tetun language lessons start on Aug 6th, so I’ll need to get a bike before then, as I have to get to the Dili Institute of Technology (DIT) about 3km away. The bike will also make shopping easier too, as I have bought a carrier + pannier bags with me.
Fortunately it only takes me 10minutes to walk to work and that is past the NZ Embassy.