Blog ending December 16th 2012
This morning Helen and I cycled the Hera loop in reverse, a nice change from going via Becora. We passed a man and woman running the other way and I was impressed that they would be running 20+km in the heat. People were still walking along the road in Hera, dressed in their Sunday best – it was about 07:50.
Yesterday I finally paid the $500 for my new bike. The money had been moved from safe place to wallet and back again before I found out that the recipient, Tony, lived in a yellow house near ‘Beach Side’, down on the coast; so I cycled there after taking a morning coffee at the Darae café – a 50 minute cycle uphill. Tony was out, but someone else was there to take the cash. Later in the day I visited Obrigadu Barracks, where the UN was based, in Caicoli. They apparently had a notice board in the PX, with bikes, cars, motorcycles, electronics and other stuff for sale. They sure did but I couldn’t find the PX and then security sent me back for an ID check and a pass. Seeing as they had about 6 people + a metal detector there, doing nothing, it gave the place a little bit of life. Nearly all the UN have left for good and many of the remainder are out of Timor, so it is a bit of a ghost town.
Last week we had rain on the Wednesday afternoon and I was intrigued at the difficulties locals had driving in the wet afterwards. I was headed out to the Beach Hotel for a H3 evening run and observed motorcyclists riding with one foot hovering just above the wet road. Cars went a little more slowly and carefully. My bike is a mountain one and I know how to ride in the wet, so I went at full speed through slow train of vehicles while locals lined the side of the road to observe the results of their fellows’ efforts. I was cheered, but I didn’t work out why until later, as keeping a good line and braking in a straight line are kind of obvious. Apparently not to those who are used to driving any which-way in dry conditions. There were, apparently, several accidents. Not surprising as some of the younger guys insist on traveling at speed though the traffic as though they were skiing slalom. Results are predictable.
Yesterday's H3 run was near the Santa Cruz cemetery and went up the hills to the south east. Great views once the scrambling had finished. There was thunder and lightening, but only light rain on us. The coolness was really nice instead of the close humidity.
Two weeks ago, I and Richard spent a week in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane learning all about a product called ‘Abacus’. It is the financial system we are rolling out here in Dili and country-wide. It was nice to be in a different place for a while, as I’ve been here for 6 months now and really appreciated having a break, of sorts. I’d ordered computer parts plus some snorkeling gear and had it delivered to the accommodation. Nearly everything arrived except for some RAM (PC memory) and even though I left a registered letter behind to forward it all onto Dili, the security here for mail actually ending up and staying in, a post box is flaky.
All the team at work have left for ‘home’ (Latvia, Philippines, England and Holland) in the past three days. There are people still here in town, but most have gone elsewhere for the annual celebrations. Some of us are planning on going to Atauro island and I haven’t been there for 6 years. Maybe a good time to take my outrigger paddle over and have a crack at a local canoe.
The traffic around town has been getting increasingly worse in the past weeks, with sections shut by the police for 'events', visiting dignitaries (Australian Bob Carr) or funerals. One, last Tuesday 10th, was for the exhumed remains of a resistance leader & fighter from the 1990s; Santana (see earlier blog about the book by Jill Joliffe). There was a big gathering in front of the Fretilin headquarters in Comoro road. The police simply closed the road while trucks loaded with people, some in traditional dress, parked outside, waiting for the official convoy to begin. I was on my bicycle, so I managed to get through everything and make my meeting at Gios, Timor Plaza
I’m living in a new place in Bairo Pite and it's really nice, even though much smaller than before. I have two ceiling fans (I just had two small free-standing ones before) and two air conditioners. The settee + comfy chairs still are padded and not collapsed vinyl-covered ones that one might sit the subject on before interrogation began. I have excellent access to animal life; directly outside the front door is cage with a rooster with a morning clock beginning around 05:30 and a dovecote with residents that know to be fairly quiet and not poo around my entrance. Outside the living room window is the fence to neighbours and their 3-4 pigs. The latter are vocal most of the time; especially so in a terminal way, occasionally. I know I grew up on a farm, but it takes getting used to. We volunteers are going to share the cost of a suckling pig for a dinner around the 22nd – just remember kids, your food has to come from somewhere and it isn’t merely from a foam tray at the supermarket!