.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. The air-conditioning works in the meeting room, so I don’t really mind. You can have the chair. It’s all good.
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.
Well that’s what works for me.
I’m coming home. I’ve flights booked for mid-December, and I’m happy. I’m glad I spent this time in Timor, but I’m done – for now.
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.
But one can never do everything one may wish in life. Some things just can’t be done in Dili:
The museum paints a glorious picture of the military victoriously eradicating foreign drugs. Down with imperialist influences! (Down with ethnic minorities). No more opium! Well done team, good work.
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 –
No regrets, but 2012 has been the hardest period of my life.
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?
Things go a bit pear shaped on our second peak, up high on an icy piece of remote remote wilderness.
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: I eat, go to work, sit in an office, come home, and try to have some sort of social life. On the surface, not that different. It’s all the little things that make my away normal unrecognisable from my home normal.
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.