Blog ending Saturday 22nd December 2012
This last week has seen the final exodus of expats to their country-of-importance and Friday saw the beginning of local people heading back to the districts. Many people need that ‘extra’ money for the Christmas break and they were lining up all week at various financial institutions for payouts. I saw one of them, right next to Tiger fuel and I thought it was a political gathering, an end-of-year get together or some other celebration/social occasion. Wrong on all counts. The ANZ money machines around town were not working including one of the two at the main bank itself, so I joined the queue before the machine ran out. The ATM in Lita still has the software upgrade warning of late August covering the dead screen and the one at Leader is apparently out of action as well.
There are many small huts-cum-shelters going up- around town. They have wee fences and are variously ringed with lights, artificial grass and attendant watchers to make sure the statues/profiles that make up the Nativity scenes are not tampered with. I took some photos of one very large nativity scene erected in the Defence building compound. It was covered in lights and quite impressive, even from the road 250m away. Less than five days later it was gone – maybe not military enough?
One fellow volunteer had to go to Darwin, on Friday, for a blood test – something to do with blood sugar. Now they have been sent back to NZ for two weeks(!). A surprise Christmas back home. Hopefully it’ll be all sorted & they can return in January.
My bike now has a carrier, but that it is not good enough to keep the mud off me when I cycle. After work yesterday, I went, watched the afternoon rain shower then wore a nice white shirt to the Dili Beach Hotel – cycling. I nearly got there OK, before passing through a puddle and getting black spots all over my front :-(
While in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago, I bought some Christmas lights – not as good as the flashing ones here that also play Christmas carols with an Amercian accent, but nice lights anyway. They are now draped over the porch in front of my door and protected from the rain. Since I am cycling 122km to Baucau in a few hours time and won’t be here to turn them on at night, I bought an extension cable and threw the loose end upstairs to the land lord’s place so they could do the honours whenever they wished to.
Yesterday, we volunteers organised a Christmas dinner at one of the houses and had a suckling pig + a variety of goodies prepared by different people. Secret Santa involved swapping your present with others and I managed to get a magnifying glass and a mini pool set that I have given to the local children.
Merry Christmas (where did this ‘Happy holidays’ rubbish come from? Are people afraid to acknowledge the origin of this festive season?)