Sunday, May 5, 2013

ANZAC day – aromatic waters – Trip to the SW: there & back again – Baking a cake – new bridge on Comoro road – twice up Dare again – well stone me – getting hold of bike bits – a very old coffee tree – meeting halfway – Flash dance

We gathered (I reckon about 300) at 05:30 on April 25th and the Dili Choir sang four national anthems a Capella: Timor Leste, New Zealand, Australia and Turkey. Tony’s Turkish (Tony is taking a break and his brother is running things) supplied some delicious Turkish breads for afterwards. There weren’t many programs as we were meant to print off our own. Someone had thought of providing candles inside paper cups and that worked really nicely. If ONLY the poppies had been delivered well in advance, we could have been wearing them for a few days beforehand, rather than mere minutes. The choir of expats sang each anthem very nicely and that meant that the poor singing performance from the audience didn’t matter that much. A special commendation for the choir’s rendition of the Turkish anthem (written on the program in phonetics). Afterwards 'One More Bar' appeared to have forgotten that they were going to provide a venue AND drinks + food. Sooooo, nearly everyone shoved off to Castaway for breakfast instead.

My shower water smells a bit ‘off’ and I thought it was due to the water table being contaminated by ‘other water’. Well, I‘ve heard that it might be more to do with geothermal and so that might explain why the odour has more in common with NZ’s Rotorua area than waste water. I hope so, but then I haven’t suffered any ill effects.

Monday 22nd - Wednesday 24th was another IT trip, this time to the Covalima area in the south west. We visited Liquica, Atabae and Maliana on the first day. I stayed at a reasonably nice place in Maliana, just 1km north of the main market. In the morning I had breakfast with a rep from Timor Oil and Gas. He was scouting accommodation for what sounded like a team building outing for over 100 staff. I took the opportunity to ask about how the power station at Betano was going to be powered. Well, apparently a pipeline will be built between Hera and Betano – right across the island with all its hills. Hmmm. There are a few gaps to fill in as I think that those 5000l tankers are running all day from Pertamina to Hera, just to keep that site running. Soooo, why have a pipeline unless the fuel was going to run from the south to the north? Begs the question on how the fuel gets to Betano, as there isn’t a wharf yet and the station looks as though it will be finished this year. I’m sure someone will enlighten me with the info.

We traveled the reverse way (see Feb trip) from Maliana down to Zumalai. I was astonished to see a bus coming the other way with ‘Suai – Maliana’ above the windscreen. Another look at the large washout showed I was a bit dramatic in my earlier report as to how wide it is. You still wouldn’t get me on any bus or truck taking that route.
The work in Suai went well and I showed everyone how to scan in documents and use the power conditioner + UPS correctly. The premises are being upgraded so part of the outside wall was missing on one half of the building. Accommodation was initially at a place 200m away & they wanted $20 for a bed with half a fan hanging off the wall, no furniture, apart from the bed and a bathroom that didn’t have a water supply. Some surprise when I walked out. Rapid conversation got me the room over the passage way with an ‘ensuite’ larger than the bedroom. Pipe plus tap, instead of a shower head, was the shower. Fan was connected to same circuit as the ceiling light, so lights-out meant no fan. I groaned and draped a shirt over my face and slept with the light on.
Home trip was via Ainaro, so another new place which I had first heard about in 2005 from a fellow Kiwi that had been there in 1999 for the election. Had lunch at warung and was suddenly accosted, in a very friendly way, by a man I hadn’t seen since we worked at Ministerio de Saude in 2007. Alvaro was having lunch there with his wife and child. We hope to catch up again in Dili some time.

Wednesday 1st was a holiday. I had a piece of lemon + coconut cake at Beachside and it was delicious. In the evening a friend, Robyn, coached me through making the same cake! It took a long time to get out the juice using just a fork, peeler and a knife. The 'zesting' bit also took a long time, but the results were even better than the morning cake. I think I’ll have another go at this…

Finally, the little bridge near the President’s Palace has been successfully widened. There are some teething issues with how traffic will take to all the extra space, effectively two lanes either way, but I’m sure everyone will adapt. An extra ‘baily’ bridge was erected, just 50m to the south, a few weeks back and that is taking some of the traffic loading away. I get the impression that changes are just 'made' and then we all have to wait & see how good the results are.

Even after rain, there is dust in the air again within hours. Very evident at night when every mote swirls around in the light beams. Maybe Dili should be called the ‘big dust’, instead of the ‘big smoke’  

Unlike last Saturday,  Saturday 27th was another busy one with Eddie and I going up and down twice. The 2nd time was for the annual ANZAC Hash run to the top of the hill – starting from the church west of Dare. It was heavy going and I was glad I had my off-road running shoes that didn’t slip. I still fell over and grazed my knee coming down from the top, due to being rather tired.

A good bit of advice in the tropics is to drink plenty of water during the day, every day. I haven’t been doing enough of that and the consequence was 3 hours of discomfort one night. Some stones are by the side of the road and are a problem for a short period of time. Other stones are tiny and a right b#####d until they go on their merry way. Lesson learnt for the 2nd time . My next work day was exhausting for some reason, maybe due to lost zzzzzz.

Bike #3 still needs a carrier + a few other items and I have found someone to bring them back, via Brisbane. Getting anything bigger than a postcard delivered by mail to Dili is not guaranteed; thus the frequent requests of people visiting other countries. In January I bought a book from called ‘Mathematics and the Imagination’, but it has never arrived, for me to collect anyway. I hope some local person, associated with the postal service, is enjoying the content including how to derive ‘Pi’ from a random series of events (ask me and I’ll tell you how I worked out the secret, as there is no explanation in the book)

During a Tuesday morning run with some friends I heard a story about a very old coffee tree. Apparently this was on East Timor Action Network (ETAN) email feed. Anyway, apparently there was a world-wide coffee tree blight in the 1920’s that was wiping everything out and someone discovered a natural hybrid, here in Timor Leste, that was resistant to the blight. That tree was somehow propagated around the world so that all other coffee trees became resistant as well. Recently, this tree has been re-discovered. How is that for an important bit of coffee trivia?

One of the new Financial system PCs had a problem at Viqueque and I was the only one who could fix it. I estimated about an hour’s work, but it was 5-6 hours return by car to Viqueque and I didn’t want to make such a trip, because it would be an over-nighter and make me carsick + listen to the driver’s sound track 8-9 times. We got the people in VQQ to deliver the PC to Manatuto, so I could travel for only 90minutes, do the work and then go home again. Worked nicely. Turned out that SQL didn’t like us using a specific database name; so I changed it and everything worked fine after that. Now identifying the actual problem and then testing a work-around took quite a while – 3 hours.

Two weeks after starting tango lessons I was part of a lunchtime crowd at Hotel Timor that became the first ever flash-mob in the country! Or so we think. We entertained the lunchtime crowd in the dining area for a couple of minutes and then dined at the pleasure of the Hotel. Exciting and I was a bit nervous beforehand.
I am there somewhere  in a white-striped shirt.

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