Saturday, March 30, 2013

New camera - Easter – Ramalau becomes a beach visit – luck at the ATM – another bike gone – Palm Sunday – District visit coming up – Rebuilding a laptop - Late-night church goers in Dili - Onions

Blog ending 2013-03-30
Well the number of ‘threes’ in the date means nothing, but it does look interesting.

We had a quiet ride up to Dare this morning and I used my new Olympus camera to take some shots of the WW2 history banners at the café. We were pleased the café was actually open as Easter is usually, in NZ anyway, when shops are either shut or they charge a premium for the service. The main premium trick here is to allow any malae to pay for the coffee, even if someone else has already done so. So three coffees can be drunk while, in one instance, six are paid for . I am aware that despite having a new camera, there are no photos in this blog

Nearly everyone who could afford a ticket on Merpati (prices way up since Batavia Air went bust) has decamped to Bali for the Easter break. Others have gone to Atauro Island (Barrie’s is full). So Dili is pleasantly quiet.

On Friday, a Rav4 was available for use and three of us were all set to go to Ramalau for a climb, BUT due to the roads and the vehicle being borrowed, we decided against it and settled for an afternoon over the back of Christo Rae, at what used to be called ‘Kiwi Beach’. My chilly bin was excellent for the drinks + ice cream and cucumber. Tracy tested out the cucumber + vegemite on crackers and it wasn’t a bad combination.

Thursday was a big half day. A morning run from the lighthouse to Ocean View and back gave me a heel blister, but I have to get in the distances to do the June marathon. Just off shore, near Ocean View, there were 26 local fishing boats in a 700m radius. Rather intense fishing?
At work, there was a mass exodus at midday. Later, I went to pick up the new camera from Kees, who’d kindly purchased it in Bangkok, and then I passed by the ANZ ATMs, at about 7:45pm, on the way home. Hmmm, better get some cash, so I joined the queue and got straight onto the ATM with no queue, clever eh? Then discovered the ATM provided all services, except dispensing money. Huh. So onto the other machine + queue & passed out advice to new-comers, not to use that ATM. Withdrew $200. The next eager person behind me was disappointed to find out I’d taken the last $$ from that ATM. The ANZ had a notice up saying that they were shut Thursday and would re-open on Monday 1st April. I guess that’ll be when more money goes in the ATMs. Maybe the ATM at Tiger fuel is not on the blink and MAYBE the ANZ ATMs at Timor Plaza are now finally working?

Three weeks ago, between 0100 and 06:00 Friday morning, a bike of mine got stolen. This was the 2nd time. The bike was one I bought in November, after #1 was stolen. #2 was on the porch outside my apartment. The porch cannot be seen from the road and you have to go through a metal gate, then a courtyard next to another house with family members and two ‘guard dogs’ that didn’t bark. Curious. Fortunately, the bloke who bought the other bike (part of a pair donated to Rotary after the '2012 Tour de Timor')  in November hadn’t ridden it, so agreed to sell it to me for $500; same as he paid. Since I still don’t have the insurance from bike #1, bike #3 was purchased with funds snaffled from NZ. Now it is always locked up or is taken into my living room for the night. A water bottle went missing as well the following week. Misplaced trust appears to have been my problem. The new bike is working out really well and I just have to get hold of a carrier that fits over disk brakes. Borrowing Helen’s spare bike has been great as it has a carrier and is pretty good on the roads.

Three of us went to the cathedral last week for Palm Sunday. It was a very big event and preparation had begun the day before with many boys coming down the hill from Dare with big palm fronds stuck in bags or down the back of their shorts. Their bikes have no brakes and they were just dragging their feet on the road to slow down, so I showed them how to put their foot directly on top of the front tyre instead. Two of them had a point to prove and overtook me going back down to Dili.
The church service began at 07:15 when the bishop walked through the crowds outside and flicked holy water from what looked like a large, horse hair brush as one would use from lathering up a beard. I was still checking it out when I was blessed and my glasses got blurry. Then there was a parade around the outside and then Tracy, Sue and I went inside and stood at the back while the service went on for about 90 minutes. We then left. Outside, a large crowd arrived from Dili Institute of Technology (DIT), they had their blue blazers on and carried several banners. It is at least a 2-3 km walk from DIT. 

Next week my counterpart and I will visit three branches, over three days, to the east: Manatuto, Lospalos and Viqueque to attend to computer issues and make sure they are all set for the new financial system rollout.
My IT skills have been used a few times in the past six weeks. A recent example was a fellow volunteer’s hard drive dying. I got a new one and had it rebuilt in a couple of days, with virus protection. Very pleasing for both parties. 

This evening I was in a truck coming back from Railaku and we passed many people in their Sunday best, headed toward town. In Dili; same thing - many families dressed up and walking through town. I guess it is for a late night service before Easter Sunday.

I finally found some large onions for, not 'on' sale, today. Waving my five onions at the stall owner, I was informed they were US$1.5 each....WHAT?!. Reduced my purchase to two onions and decided to cut each into four sections. There was a nice tenderloin in the frozen meat section at Kamanek. Produced by AFCO and from NZ - a  steal at only $60 for 4.6kg.
Back to getting my protein from eggs, chicken and fish, I think.


  1. 2 onions for $3 - that's crazy! I hope they were enormous and delicious. And I certainly hope bike #3 and camera #2 stay with you until the end of your Timor tour!

    Good luck in the Marathon!

  2. We are impatient to read your next post, which certainly should include some lovely photos since you now have a brand new camera!