Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Traffic in Dili. For some reason, taxi drivers tape up half their windows. I think it is to stop glare. Visibility isn't much of a problem when the top speed doesn't usually go beyond 40 kms an hour.

When Ash and I arrived in Dili, we dropped our stuff off at Michael's place and headed for a walk up and down the beach. As we returned, there were two kids really close to Michael's place. They were extremely shy, and we plied them over with little koala toy's which Ash bought from the market before we flew out. The older of the two children took them, looked at us, and quickly walked away. I managed to grab this photo from a distance. Every time we walk past their property, we are greeted with a wave.

While walking back from a market (Taxi's are cheap and plentiful, however, you do not get to learn anything about the culture), we walked through a tight, close living suburb, where houses where not closer than a hallway a part. I do not want to call them slums, as I have never really been to one, and do not know what to compare it to. We found a bunch of kids playing soccer in front of a few houses down a small street. After taking a few pics, it didn't take long for all the children of the neighborhood to turn up and say 'Mister!Mister!Foto!Foto!'. At first, it was curiosity in us as foreigners, and at being able to see a photo of themselves. It quickly turned into photo-bombing and tongues being poked out.

 I don't think there was a time while we were in the area that the kids weren't interested in us. Even while half a bunch of kids were playing soccer, an adorable toddler was following me around, playing with my camera, sticking his face in the lens. I had to stop and clean my lens several times. I showed him how to press the shutter. Every time I crouched down thereafter, tiny hands would reach for my camera and take photos. Every time I would stand up, he would be there, grabbing my leg. When we left, he was crying hysterically and  had to be carried away by his sister.
At the Comoro Market, Dili.
The beach at the doorstep of Michael's place, and our home for the next three weeks. Fishermen pack up their boats at sunset.

As I was embarking on my first stroll through Dili, little phrasebook in hand, I came across this lady, machete in hand, cutting down a tree.
'Bondia (Good Morning), I said.
'Bondia', she replied.
Then an awkward conversation which I did not know how to exit started. After 10 minutes of me flicking through the phrasebook like an idiot, I worked out that her name is Nepolina Perez. And she knew my name was Mat. After this valuable exchange of information, we parted ways.

Today is day three in Timor. It has been relatively slow compared to the rest of the time we have spent here. We flew up on Sunday night/Monday morning arriving in Dili at approximately 07.00 local time. Not really knowing what to expect, our host Richard Bell, a young apprentice (sort of) for Michael Stone (who is currently on leave in Australia) picked us up from the airport. We arrived just after a storm, so the humidity was fairly low.. but that would quickly change.
Richard gave us a lift back to the place where we will spend the majority of the next few weeks. Marinir (It's next to the sea and about 200 metres from Dili airport) is a beautiful little spot. We are literally metres away from the beach. It is a suburb, but in the same sense, very rural. Pigs, chickens, and stray dogs roam the area, and children stair out from behind gates built of palm fronds, smiling and waiving and yelling out 'Bondia!' (good morning!)

 Our first reaction was to wander down and talk to fishermen. Armed with our little phrasebook (which I have now dubbed 'The Bible', Ash and I made really broken awkward conversation with the fishermen. Ash had a bit of a nap, and I did what I do when going anywhere strange. Walk randomly, and ignore all the books and guides and DFAT website warnings.

I quickly learned that there was a school nearby, and that 'Malay' (pronounced 'may lie') means foreigner. As soon as a camera is visible, children flock in groups yelling 'Mister!Mister!Foto!Foto!'. Pretty quickly, the two kids who had yelled this out turned into about a dozen.
We went to the market, where we stuck out like a sore thumb. You can walk through the markets for hours and not see any other foreigners. Ash and I picked up some foodstuffs, and pushed on.
The past few days, Ash and I have been acclimatising, playing soccer with kids, walking around Dili and polishing our dodgy, embarrassingly poor Tetum.Tomorrow, the real action starts. I begin my projects..
There is very limited internet here. I will keep posted when I can.

P.S. - You better like these photos. They took an hour to load. All three mb of them. 

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