Wait your patience

After 10 days in the seductive tourist bubble of Bali, I was determined not to succumb to post-holiday blues. We were heading back to Dili for a final three-month fling before life in New Zealand swallows us up again. There wasn’t a moment to waste.

My good intentions lasted as far as the luggage carousel at Presidente Nicolau Lobato airport, named after one of Timor’s resistance heroes. Think Hokitika airport, only shabbier. ‘Finis’, said the airport attendant as I peered hopefully at the empty conveyer belt which had delivered Pat’s bag – and everyone else’s on our flight – but not my little blue suitcase.

Presidente Nicolau Lobato international airport in Dili.

Presidente Nicolau Lobato international airport in Dili: think Hokitika, only shabbier.

We made our way inside the terminal to the office of Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian airline. A smiley young Timorese man sat behind a glass wall. At the height of his desk, a small semi-circle had been cut out of the glass. To explain my problem, I had to bend down, twist my head and project my voice through this opening. To decipher his muffled reply, I put my ear where my mouth had been, all the time trying to maintain eye contact. It was hard to feel that Sriwijaya wanted to hear from me. Continue reading

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Our neighbourhood

Living in our suburb Bidau Mota Klaran is like living in the country. It’s on the east side of Dili, only five minutes walk to a busy intersection. But here you’re more likely to hear roosters and pigs than car horns and revving motorbikes. Here’s a few pics to help you get acquainted.

Our driveway with an average-sized pothole just waiting for the next rain.

Our driveway with an average-sized pothole just waiting to fill up in the next rain. Normally a dog sleeps in the middle of it, only moving at the last minute for the motorbike.

Behind our house a big boy uses a big, pink comb to give a little boy a spiky hairdo like his own.

Behind our house a big boy uses a big, pink comb to tease a little boy’s hair into a spiky hairdo like his own.

School girls coming down our street

School girls walk down our street: our driveway is on the left beside the log. There are no street names or numbers which would explain why we haven’t had any mail yet.

Our street and river

The river runs alongside our street. Taxi drivers don’t like the street because they’re likely to lose a chassis in the deep pot holes.

Poorer housing on the other side of the river.

Poorer housing on the other side of the river.

Little boys playing in the river and the rubbish

Small boys play in the river and the rubbish. They catch crawlies and little fish in plastic bottles. Pat says it reminds him of many happy hours he spent in the Waiwhetu Stream as a boy.

Friendly Timorese kids: 'Hi, malae (foreigner)'

Friendly kids are everywhere in Timor. They call out ‘Hey mister’ (to men or women) and ‘Hi, malae (foreigner)’

To get to town, turn left at the bridge.

To get to town, turn left at the bridge.

Then follow the people walking to Mass

Then, if it’s Sunday, follow the people walking to church.

This Catholic church round the corner from us was built with Spanish soccer star Renaldo's money. Mass is so popular on Sunday morning that it's broadcast onto the street for all those who can't fit inside.

The lovely Catholic church round the corner from us was built with Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s money, we’re told. Mass is so popular that it’s broadcast onto the street for all the people who can’t fit inside.