Friday, July 17, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weekend in Jaco

This last weekend I went on a trip outside of Dili. It was fabulous to get out of town for a bit and see a bit of rural Timor-Leste! My roommate Bess invited me to join her and her friends on a trek to an island called Jaco which is located off of the Eastern most tip of TL.

We left on Friday night after work and drove to Baucau where we met up with some of the other trekkers and stayed the night in a hostel. We got up early on Saturday, fueld with Kafe-Timor, and drove the rest of the way to Walu Beach. The roads were mostly good and the only real difficulty was the last 3k or so down the mountian to the beach.

We were undecided about staying in a bungalow at the EcoVillage, but when we saw how cute they were, we fell in love. Bess and I agreed to share a bungalow and we set off to the fishing boats that would take us accross the channel to Jaco.

We spent a very nice afternoon lounging on fabulous white sand and snorkeling in aqua green water. Some of the others brought wine and we shared our snacks. At five, we returned to Walu and made a bon fire. We cooked dinner on the beach and watched shooting stars. It was like out of a movie.

After having been in the sun all day and drinking wine, Bess and I called it a night around 11pm. I woke at 1:30am needing to relieve myself. I crossed the EcoVillage and ducked into the first stall at the bathroom. When I walked in, I heard the water dipper lazily tinking the side of the mandy (a big tub of water used to flush the toilet). I peered into it with my flashlight only to find the BIGGEST RAT I HAVE EVER SEEN doing the doggy paddle. Needless to say, I spun around on my heels and got out of there as fast as I could.

Not wanting to chance finding another rat in the other stall, I walked back across the EcoVillage looking for a tree to squat by. Just then, I heard a weird hissing sound that sounded like it was coming from a person. Being 1:30am, I wasn't able to make out all of my surroundings. All of a sudden, a guy appeared herding four HUGE water buffalo through the EcoVillage. I was so distraught that I jumped up on a pile of wood to get out of the way!

After having calmed down a bit, I took care of my business and returned to my bungalow. I settled back in under my mosquito net only to hear scuttling and nibbling. There was a RAT in the BUNGALOW as well! Unlike Bess, I couldn't sleep through the rodent torture, so I crashed a tent that some of our fellow travelers were sleeping in.

As much as the rat episodes traumatized me, I can't say that I would mind heading back to Jaco and doing it all over again. It was AMAZING.

FRUSTRATING!!!! The net is not working well enough to upload the photos now. They will come soon, I promise!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Bon Dia!

It's the 4th of July. In Dili this means an extravaganza at the American Embassy (which was celebrated on th 3rd actually). Lot's of free food and booze. I was very excited about the hotdogs, but they were a let-down, even for hotdogs.

I attended a meeting yesterday that was hosted by the Ministry of Social Solidarity. The topic was reintegration of IDPs (internally displaced people) to their native aldeias (communities). Staff from IOM (International Office of Migration), UNMIT (United Nations Mission in Timor Leste), and local NGOs were present. I'm learning more and more about reintegration issues concerning individuals who were displaced during conflict. I continue to find the feildwork very interesting after having discussed similar issues during my time at the University of Denver.

I am working on my visa as well. On the 13th I will need to have either an extension or a special stay visa. I'm hoping for the latter as the former would entail visiting the Office of Immigration every month and leaving the country every three months. If I am able to procure a special stay visa, I'll be able to stay in TL for a year. That visa is ideal. It seems though that this visa requires the signature of a ministry official, which is rather difficult to come by. I'm working on it though.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Timor-Leste Welcomes Me!

I've been in TL for two weeks now. After a short stay in Bali, I flew to Dili and hit the ground running. On my first day I was shown around, went shopping in the market for a costume party, met the president, hung out on the beach, fell and sprained my ankle, ended up in the emergency room, and got a cast and had to start cruising around on crutches!

I've made a quick recovery and am now hobbling around with an ace bandage for support. However, I need to go to the hospital every morning for physical therapy. I'm on the mend!
I started work the Monday after I arrived. (I'm working for an NGO called Ba Futuru. They do work on child protection, conflict resolution/transforation, and human rights. I've been reading/editing reports for much of the last two weeks. I've also been hanging out with the kids that come to the Seroja Center and have been trying to pick up on Tetun -- the language spoken in Dili.
Dili is an interesting, bustling city. Driving in it has been a challenge; there seem to be driving rules, but I'm still struggling with exactly what they are and how they apply. It's nice to have wheels though. I've been able to take a few photos, and will be able to take more when I can spend some time walking around the city. There's some great grafiti around; I promise I'll get some photos. Anyway... here are some of the shots I've gotten so far.
Kids playing games at the Seroja Center.

Studying English at the Seroja Center.