Where did the proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ originate from? I’d love to know. Anyway, here is a little story that began in 2015 in Bangladesh, and came full circle in Australia, via Timor-Leste and the Great Tonic Water Drought of 2018.
A year in Timor-Leste with not much to do edged me back to my old reading habit. This year, I’ve tried to maintain this pattern. It’s been a bit different as I read lots for uni – I have reading for enjoyment and reading for study as disparate activities.
Thank you Timor-Leste for many things –
Mister Busa, despite your reputation, you are a good cat. Not a very good cat, but you are still a good cat. Certainly a less shit cat since your cat-nuts were removed.
The extraordinary people who have shared their stories, experiences, energy, and beer. Both expats and locals: understanding other people is a joy, a heart-break, and a fascination. I have a feeling that I will cross paths with some of you again.
Students protesting, demanding to be heard has a critically important place in the history of the creation of Timor-Leste, and the modern country that these voices helped bring into existence.
The history is from the ancient times until now: from my grandmother and all my family – we all know about it well. Different villages believe different things
.1400. Sitting in the meeting room with four other displaced persons, including the chap I share a desk with (did I mention that I share a desk?) – Through the meeting room window I watch someone casually claim my desk chair.
It’s important for people to work out how to find and maintain contentment. It’s probably not money, and certainly not having a pig or similar creature put a ring on it. It’s probably cats. Cats and adventures and dancing by the light of the moon.
Dili is an easy little town to live in: I can walk to work when it’s not too hot or too wet; feast on the most wonderful tomatoes; be adopted by a most excellent cat; walk along the coast to drink a coconut on the beach as the sun goes down; wear Birkenstocks to work; hike the steep hills right outside my door; lots and lots of good things.
Ok so this list is for you if you are moving to Dili. If you are heading to the districts, your list will be a tad longer. This is what has worked for me –
Our team of six climbers and eighteen crew are in the Everest region attempting three technical summits, each over 6,000m. In immediate succession. And some glaciers. What could possibly go wrong?
Here is an arrogant little list.
Don’t hate me: I know how wanky this is.
With the exception of a wedding photography session and us, all other park goers on Lovers’ Island are couples that expertly handle umbrellas for privacy. And the occasional weirdo man who comes to spectate. Well of course there is at least one suspiciously leery man.
Normal is a relative term that recalibrates frequently. At first glance, my normal life when I’m away is basically the same as my normal life at home
Ah, it still amuses me to casually drop the ol’ when I was an airhostess into conversation. And wait for the penny to drop that I’m not joking.
Sometimes it’s ok to have a bit of a shit run. They don’t last forever, but in the midst of one, it can be harder to recognise the beauty of a country that has let you be part of daily life.
Climbing the highest peak in Timor-Leste to greet the dawn with about 300 people, who, upon reaching the summit, prayed for fertility. I participated in the ritual, whispering a quiet prayer for stabilisation of the country’s booming population growth.
With a big smile at the heavily armed chaps, I try to look non-confrontational and more harmless than usual. I hold up a bag of chickens.
Yes, of course I’m very fond of you, and I do like your company. But when you casually swipe a low-walking gecko off the kitchen wall and crunch crunch crunch it in half, it’s a bit off putting.
My memories of this place will forever be of listening to the personal personal stories of a brutal war, told with shocking honesty by a quiet man who came back to this place by accident.
As the dawn is even now about to pierce the night, so let their memories inspire us to work for the coming of the new light.
Embassies are odd places, each have a distinct character, with similarities – separate spaces serve different purposes behind the walls, gates and guards.
Dili is cupped between the ocean and the mountains: a narrow strip of flat land before the steep hills.
I jumped at the chance for some congenial company and a seat in a 4WD for a 4.5 hour, 100 km, drive to Baucau for lunch and back again.
I’ve been here for seven weeks and I still haven’t got out of Dili. I hear that the climate is kinder in the hills, and that it is beautiful.
You can do an awful lot with ten litres of water. Over 10 litres of water sit in the pipes to the two cold water taps, and the warm water system for the shower in my flat.
The second day in my flat I’m cooking garlic, and in walks a cat. Mister Busa has stayed.
31 January I’ll be on my way to Dili, Timor-Leste to do my thing again.
True to form, I’ve signed a 12-month contract having done no research about the country or organisation I’ll be embedded in. Because that’s how I roll.
Yes, well there was that time kilograms of heroin just washed up on the beach over there. Piles of the stuff. And of course quite a bit of it disappeared.
You see, Captain Efate started collecting the glass coke bottles as they washed ashore, having been piffed into the ocean by well over 100,000 American troops posted here from 1942 to 1945.
After the magnitude 7 earthquake this morning, everyone in the meeting seems fine, so we continue with our work.
Nakamals open when the kava has been prepared in the afternoon, and stay open until it runs out.
Locals eat at the Mama’s Market. Tables covered in colourful aged plastic in neat rows with simple benches. Strangers and friends sit together, wherever there is a space.
Occasionally a place and a people can open up, and let you see truths that you would never initially imagined.
It’s hard to pinpoint the subtle background static that suggests unpredictability. Anticipation. It doesn’t brew in many places.