So we clearly got home ok, as I have seen most of you since our return.
I'm now sick because of the extreme weather change, thanks Melbourne. Coming back up real life is not so fun. Work is beginning to drive me a little crazy, but I'm now working with a goal and an end in sight which makes me want to go to work so I am one step closer to getting there.
Ash, Sarah, Giz and I hav put in a proposal to Bus gallery, hoping to work towards a show in October. We thought we had absolutely no chance then Ash found out her mentor is on the selection board, maybe there is the smallest amount of hope.
I need to work up my idea a bit will then try to put it into English and post.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
So we clearly got home ok, as I have seen most of you since our return.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Cooked a mean dinner tonight for Rich and Mick we had a BBQ on the beach, I made satays and did whole chickens grilled on the fire, they were amazing!!
Shaun from Friday night has come round tonight, after our crazy night on Friday he kept going until midnight sat night, I don't know how he does it! He had been playing in a poker tournament tonight and came second so he was having a good night. He has come around with more pot and all his top shelf spirits. Fuck i hate pot, i absolutely cant stand the smell of it. I'm so going to bed soon, especially when were gonna spend the whole day tomorrow traveling.
On reflection in Timor, I have learnt so much about myself and about this place by being here for 3 weeks. I never thought I would come but i now know I will be back. Tour de Timor is happening in September and iv been invited by Mick to volunteer for the tour. I'm so in!
Timor is somewhere I never would have gone to on my own accord, I'm so glad Mat made the contacts he did and we ended up here.
On a side note, Saturday night Mat killed one of the rats, it had clearly eaten a lot of the ratsack and wasn't moving very well, so he stabbed it with an umbrella.. Then put it in a bag and smashed it on the floor.. Safe to say it was dead. Then last night we were helping Mick move his house around so he could move back in, and we moved boxes into his shed. It smelt really bad like rat shit etc, I then spotted a rat which had hung itself in a fishing net.. It would happen that we put up with it for 3 weeks and when were about to leave we get rid of it...
Just sitting in the airport waiting to board the flight home. Sad to leave in a way.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Just as we Mat finished we got a call from Mick, we were supposed to be having dinner with the President on Saturday, but that had been cancelled and we were to be having drinks with him in 2 hours time... Ahhh. We raced home had showers and had to get to Micks so we could go to the presidents house for drinks..
I spent the next 2.5 hours freakin out, thinking I'm way out of my league etc, I don't know anything about politics or Timor's history or anything else he might want to talk about!! When we got there we waked in and he was just hanging out with a group of local kids, one of which he was throwing a birthday party for. He told us that this young girl had told him it was her brithday when he had seen her the day before and he asked if she was having a party, she wasn't because her dad was in hospital and her family was poor because of his medical bills. So he decided to throw her a party, they had pizza and chocolate and cake, all of which are major luxuries here. Amazing. Couldn't imagine Julia Gillard throwing a children's party..
We all sat down at this massive hand made wooden table, in his absolutely beautiful kind of out door room at his house. One end had all this amazing finger food, there was some sort of spicy chicken, cheeses, fruit, amazing like roasted nuts, and other stuff that I'm not even sure what it was, it was freakin good though. The other end of the table had a selection of the best spirits you could want, gin, cognac, brandy, scotch, red and white wines and they then bought out lemons, limes, soft drinks, tonic water, and ice.
So we sat there for close to 3 hours having a conversation with the president. He truly is an amazing person, so humble and so honest, some of the stories he told were unbelievable, like how his family had lost 3 of 8 kids during the invasion, how his mum was on the Indonesians hit list because she was so out spoken against them, even to the point of smuggling photos, letters and video to any western person she could find so they could take it out of the country and to show the world.
Mick got us to have a photo with him, guess we needed bragging rites! Another few handshakes and a hug from the Pres and we left.
No one (except me) was ready to go home so we went to Dili beach hotel, one of the malae bars along the beach and got some dinner, and a couple drinks. We were standing right near the front and noticed that the cab driver from last weekend was out the front.. Mick was really angry about the whole incident so he went and spoke to him, basically the guy was a nutter, his response was along the lines, that he would punch any malae who tried to rip him off, he just went on and on to mick about his friends being idiots and that they should fuck off out of the country.. Anyway. Mick being Mick has friends in high places, so he went and spoke to the chief of police about it, this guy is going down. Mick really loves Timor and cares about how people see it so he was really annoyed about this guy. After Mick had talked to him he stood there and stared at us for half an hour, fucking creep.
We left and went next door to castaways another bar and had another drink or 2, I was so freakin tired and struggling to stay awake so I stopped drinking. After castaways the group decided to go go to Casa Minah a Portuguese dance club. We walked up to the door and there was a sign saying private party, they asked for an invite, then saw Mick and just told us to go through.. Wish I had that power!
We walked in and there was people everywhere, mostly malae, they had a massive projector screen playing zumba, random as.. We had a bit of a dance and everyone else had another drink or 2. I spent most of the time outside, best thing they ever did in aust was ban smoking in pubs/clubs. By then end of the night I stank so bad like cigarettes. When we decided to leave here I grabbed the keys, Mick was pretty drunk, and I wasnt going to let him drive. We went back to one of Mick and Rich's friends houses for more drinks. By this point i so want to go home! it's like 4am.
Shaun (the friend) is leaving Timor for the US in a couple of days. His wife is pregnant and is due in about 3 weeks so there was more celebratory drinks at his place, they cracked into a bottle of Bollinger, the finest vodka, tequila, whiskey, whatever you wanted it was probably there providing it was top shelf. Then they started smoking cigarettes, cigars (that were given to Jose Ramos-Horta from Fidel Castro and then to Mick) and pot. I had the biggest freakin headache from all the smoke and lack of sleep.. I finally convinced them to let me take them home at 6.30am. We dropped Mick off at his hotel and then went home. Rich was so gone. He passed out with his eyes open on the back seat, I remember saying to Mat if he was still breathing.. When we got back home we tried to shake him awake, but we could only get about 20 seconds where he was awake then he would pass out again.. Mat ended up having to carry him out of the car, we figured we had no hope of getting him up stairs to his bed so we left him on the daybed out the front. When we eventually got up at like 11 we went out and woke him up, he was so confused Hahaha. Ended up being a good night.
As Mick had said it was a pretty interesting trip, there is a kind of organised chaos, the crazy way these things seem to work just in Timor. We spent 4 and a half hours listening to indonesian pop played loud enough to make your ears bleed with the occasional bon jovi or Bryan Adams thrown in. The bus travelled on the crappiest, most windy and most ridiculous road, kinda like the great ocean road except with waterfalls that crossed the road, pot holes as big as a car, and parts of the road that had literally fallen away down a cliff. There was a couple parts where I thought we were going to go off the edge. Along the way we stopped to pick people up and drop others off. When we eventually got to Baucau we were watching them unload the top rack of the bus, the amount of shit tied to the roof was mental, no joke there was a motorbike, a heap of bags of rice, 4 goats, and a jack russel that had been put in one of those big rice sacks and tied to the roof. No animal protection here.. When I say the goats were tied to the roof rack that is exactly what I mean, they had just been roped to the roof like anything else..
when we got there we called our contact Giacomo, who had given us his card on the plane from Darwin-Dili after seeing us taking photos out of the plane. Giacomo asked us to meet him at some restaurant, simple enough.. In Dili we have been replying quite heavily on taxis as we don't have a car, we assumed we could do the same in Baucau, But turns out there isn't any taxis in Baucau, so we had to jump on a microlet. A microlet is kinda the local bus service, they are basically a small van that has been hollowed out in the back and they have put bench seats around on the inside, they have these in Dili too. The only thing with the microlets is that they don't have a particular route like a normal bus so you kinda have to jump on and off whenever it starts to go somewhere you don't want to go. Again this would have been fine but we had not the slightest clue where anything was in Baucau, there is much less malae or tourists there so it's not very easily accessible if you don't speak tetun. We got on one and started asking how to get to this restaurant, a few people pointed in random directions etc trying to help. Eventually someone figured out what we were trying to do so the told us which microlet to get on, the same guy then got off with us and showed us where to go, in the end we realised he had actually taken us to the hotel we were staying in, we didn't even tell him where we were staying, I guess malae are that predictable. We checked in while we were there dropped off our bags etc, then had to actually go find the restaurant, we asked a couple of people again, turns out it was actually really close to where we were staying. Timorese people are so freakin helpful!
We met up with Giacomo for lunch, another of his friends had also come to Baucau for the night so he was at lunch also. After lunch we went for a drive about an hour out of Baucau to a community where one of Giacomo's projects had been implemented. He works for the UN food and agriculture project so basically they go out to communities with seeds, fertilizer and all that sort of stuff and teach the community to set up and maintain farms. The produce is used to feed the community with any excess to be sold for profit.
On the way we stopped at one of the first sites he had set up, it was a massive rice paddy, we all went for a walk down to where there was some kids and a couple of older ladies harvesting the rice, as we were walking around Mat was trying to get to one of the kids and fell into the rice paddy... Twice. Everyone who was in the paddy as well as the rest of the surrounding village pissed themselves laughing at him... As did we..
Once we got to the village were heading to, we ended up being there for about 2 hours Giacomo, had to meet with the community leaders and see how everything was going (this farm had been set up nearly a year ago so it was quite well established). Mat, Gabriel (Giacomo's friend) and I walked through the village and took some photos, talked with people and hung out with the entourage of children we developed..
This village was quite different from anywhere we had been in Dili, some of the houses were simply thatched on top to form a roof but didn't even have walls, some had sheets or basically anything they could find strung up around to offer some sort of privacy and protection. You could tell those who were a bit more wealthy, some had mud bricks around the base as walls. It was really humbling to see how they live like this, just goes to show we really don't need all the crap we have.
After the meeting we headed back to Baucau, stopping at another couple farms and plantations to take some more photos, Giacomo needed photos to show his bosses etc what they were doing. Once we got back to Baucau we grabbed some beers and these amazing banana chips and went down to the beach to watch the sun set. Pretty nice way to spent the afternoon.
We went back to the hotel and had a shower, first proper hot shower we had had in Timor, I'm not gonna lie I spent about 20mins in there is was amazing!! We had dinner with Giacomo and Gabriel at the hotel restaurant dinner wasnt the greatest but it was good enough. We stayed at the posada in Baucau, we were told that it's the best hotel in Timor, it was nice but wouldn't say it was the best in Timor, especially compared to the place Mick is staying at in Dili at the moment. We were just excited to have Internet and to get a decent nights sleep without the rat waking us up. Giacomo was heading to Dili at 9.30am so we got a lift back with him. it was almost more uncomfortable than the bus ride. There was 5 of us in one of those twin cab utes and I got stuck in the middle, it was painful when the road was so bendy and bumpy.. Was pretty glad to get back to Dili.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
We got a cab to the 'bus terminal' which in reality is just a patch on the side of the road where the busses seem to stop, all the busses are individually owned so they fight for toe business, we pulled up in the cab and had a couple of guys open the door, grab our bags and usher us onto their bus. Just sitting waiting for it to leave, were not sure if there is some sort of schedule or if they wait till the bus is full, if so that's gonna be a while, there is only us and 2 other people, bus seats about 20...
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
No road rules, a car I can't drive, a place I don't know and no street lights, sure I can drive in Dili.
We talked until about 3am about the craziest stuff that he had done, the things he has seen, but also about Mat and I, and what we want out of life. He is really into supporting, mentoring and helping people get what they want from life. For me he was talking about this person and that he knew, how he will hook me up, or 'get the connect' as he puts it. Mick is so interested and so invested in people.
On Monday Mick had to catch up with the 'pres' (Talking about José Ramos-Horta) to discuss business things, he works day to day as an advisor of sorts to the president.
Mat and I went and hung out at Bairo Pite Clinic (Dr Dan's) for most of the day. Not sure if I had mentioned earlier that at the clinic there was also 2 brittish med students. Anyway we became quite good friends with Charlie and Seb (sebastian) it was Charlies last day on Monday, Seb has another week then he will be leaving too. They had to do a placement as part of their studies they could choose to do it anywhere in the world. Apparently many if not most just stay in England, but they wanted to do something more worth while. Mat needed their help with getting the stories right for the photos he had taken of the patients, like names, condition, where the were from etc, so we sat down with charlie and Seb and went through the images.
After Bairo Pite we met up with Mick and went back home for a game of touch footy on the beach. Monty next door was having drinks for a friend of his so we all went around, had a few drinks and all sat around talking, playing guitar, singing an having a good time. I hadn't yet had a drink and they realised that they didn't have enough beer, mat and I needed to go to the supermarket anyway so we got roped into a beer run.
Let me get it straight when I say Dili has no road rules, from what I can tell the only thing everyone seems to do it beep their horns a lot! I think the rule is beep if there is people or animals on the road obviously to make them move, when passing, turning, merging, when your pissed or just generally when you feel like it you beep your horn. Ok so that would be fine, driving with no rules on right of way or speed or driving in a lane, if I was driving a car I knew and in a place I knew.. Nope no luck there. So I ended up driving a massive land cruiser, that was manual (I haven't driven manual since like august!) had basically no power steering and one headlight was a bit stuffed. Also in a totally unfamiliar place, at night when the street lights were out.. It was a pretty slow and steady drive but all in all wasn't too bad! Dili diving is something I don't think you could ever get used to, Mick said they also like to change the direction of the one way streets on occasion, really not helpful!
Once the party had died we went back home and ended up talking with Mick until about 2am again. We went to bed when Mick started falling asleep midway through a sentence. He had planned to drive back to his hotel but I wouldn't let him so (after me offering him his own bed a million times) he opted for sleeping on the daybed on the porch. Mat got a mozzie net and attached it to the roof and we made him a cosy little place to stay. I'm really glad he didn't drive home.
Tuesday morning we were up at about 6 again because the sun had come up so Mick was awake. He had a super busy day so he left pretty early and we went back to sleep for a bit. In Timor there is a crazy amount of differing street food, but the best ones are the kids that actually walk around with a cart of whatever they are selling. I'm pretty sure iv talked about the egg boys before? Anyway you see heaps of young boys walking around with tray of hard boiled eggs. These are probably Mats favorite, but this morning before the egg boy there was another kid who came past selling pancakes. They walk up and down the beach past our back fence and we always get it when it is hot and fresh because we are right next to the path down to the beach. it was the best breakfast ever! I had a couple that had something like home made nuttela and a couple with what looked like chocolates sprinkles. Soo good! Egg boy came past the house too so mat was happy..
We ended up having a slow morning then headed into Dili to the Internet cafe and then for lunch. We didn't want to do too much or go too far away as Mat was waiting on a phone call back from Aida, one of the doctors/midwives from Bairo Pite. They were planning on going to the district overnight so he could photograph a district birth, but it got to 3pm and she still hadn't called so we figured she wouldn't.
After lunch we grabbed a taxi to Santa Cruz, the cemetery that I mentioned in the last post. It was really strange being at that place, knowing that so many people died so horrifically right where we were standing. The massacre happened towards the end of 1991, so it's getting close to the 20 year anniversary, and yet you can still see subtle signs of what occurred there. Some of the graves closest to the fence of the cemetery still have chips and marks from where the bullets hit them, the concrete wall it's self was rendered by the Indonesians almost immediately after to try to cover it up, but there is places where the render has fallen away from the original wall again to reveal the incredible amount of bullet holes. Walking back towards the centre of Dili down the road the protesters had taken in 1991, the walls are littered with names and some just simply the date the massacre occurred. Again you see the spirit of the Timorese, and their ability to get on with life.
While walking back from Santa Cruz we came across a couple of guys training their fighting cocks, it is a huge back alley sport here. A well bred cock can set you back $50-60, then you have to spend a year or 2 looking after, feeding and training the thing. Remembering that a good average wage in Dili is about $5 a day, it's crazy how many people can't afford food and yet they have a fighting cock. A typical manu conflictu translation to 'Chicken conflict' lasts no more than 15-20 seconds, and 9/10 times ends with the death of one bird. These people spent so much time and effort on these fights, and you can lose everything in 15 seconds. I really don't agree with cock fights yet it was crazy watching these 2 massive birds go at each other.
It's just ticked past 1am as I'm writing this, I have been in bed since about 10.45 and just can't get to sleep. If I do I keep getting woken up by the stupid fucking rat that is frequenting our place. It has eaten a whole packet of rat sack and still isn't dead. If that wasn't enough, I went to the toilet before and we now also have a massive huntsman in the bathroom, it is the biggest spider iv ever seen, it would actually be as big as my hand. Yuck! I hate bugs and rats and basically anything creepy crawly!!
So I spent most of the night chasing the eat around the house, they stupid freakin thing is getting more bold and more confident, apparently it bit Rich on the toe 2 nights ago. Last night it ran across the bed right up my body, from feet to shoulders, scared the shit out of me. Then a bit later on it ran across our feet again too.. Man I hate that stupid furry peice of shit!
This morning Mat has gone into Dili to meet with another contact. So iv spent the morning finishing writing this entry, watched a couple episodes of west wing while sitting on the day bed watching the waves roll in.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
so i know i haven't posted in a while, I'll give you a bit of a run down from Thursday night till now...
Thursday night was the first night in the week that the power hadn't gone off at about 4pm
so I actually got to cook real food for dinner! I made a green curry which was awesome,
it was so hot though, the curry paste I had really had some kick.
On Friday morning Mick actually flew into town! he obviously had a lot of people to catch up with
etc so we did our own thing for the day and met up with him later on.Mat and i again went for a wander
in Dili again, we found one of the many DVD shops and went a little nuts... i ended up with around 50
dvds and maybe 10 or so wii games.I'm really not that sure if they will actually work in my player,
apparently most do but you get the occasional one that wont. but when your paying 50-75c per disc
is a couple dotn work im not too worried. if customs confiscates them ill be pretty pissed though..
i know piracy is bad but i cant help it when they are so cheap!
Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day in Dili. Mat again had an early start. He got a
phone call on Friday that he thought was from a guy at the UN World Food Project, who he had
spoken to earlier, he thought it was to organize a meeting about doing some images with them
etc. Though when mat rocked up at the UN today they were like what? It's Saturday no one
He called the number back and they then said actually we are at Comoro come here.. When he
got there turns out it was a wedding.. In the end it was a guy we had met a few days ago,
he works as a guard at the presidents palace. mat ended up getting roped into shooting his
wedding. So he spent like 4 hours with him Saturday morning taking family photos etc.
It's kinda strange, there was about 20 or 30 couples getting married in the one
We were invited to their family ceremony /reception that night.. In-between the ceremony and
the reception thing we talked to Rich about it, he said this kind of thing happens a bit,
it's more so that he can brag to his friends that a malae came to his wedding. This
became very very clear once we got there. We were ushered in and asked to sit in a certain
lot of chairs, they then bought out a table and put it in front of us, we were like the
guests of honor, we even had waitered drinks service, it got weird. Walking into the place
it wasn't all that much different to a wedding reception that you might have in your
backyard in Australia, then walking around the corner and seeing the table which had the
food all already laid out, there was 2 or 3 full pigs on the table, a couple of chickens,
some sort of salad type thing and so so many flies... Mat took some photos for you mum...
They had clearly assigned a family member to look after us, every time we got up to look
around etc he followed us, he kinda started hitting on me, got awkward.. We wanted to just make
an appearance and then go, but when we floated that idea everyone got a bit upset, anyway in
the end we left and honestly couldn't get away quick enough.
i spent the morning while mat was at the wedding, chilling at the house. i was so freaking tired Saturday,
didn't sleep very well friday night on the account of mat
snoring and the stupid rat that is still lurking in our place. I even bought rat sack and it
still isn't dead!
After the wedding mat and I met up with Mick and Rich for dinner. It was probably the best
meal we have had in Timor. It was like a night food market, basically anything you could put
on a stick and chuck on the fire, we had squid, chicken, pork, and these amazing little rice
pudding things that were wrapped in woven palm fronds they were so so good.. The chicken was
butterflied and cooked whole over coals, with seasoning etc.. Wow. For 4 of us to have
dinner and 2 beers each (yes Ryan I had beer) it cost $11 total.
After dinner Mick and Rich showed us the nightlife of Dili.. We went to a couple of the
malae bars and had a few drinks, we then jumped in a cab and did a bit of a tour, went to
another random party and had another couple drinks..
Mum stop reading here..
Anyway we ended up dropping Mick back at his hotel and he told the driver where to take us
(Mat, Rich and I) he argued with Mick a little about how much the fare would be, he wanted
$20 for the trip. Usually that would be maybe a $5 fare. Anyway between Mick and the cabbie
they seemed to work it out, Mick said to us, pay him no more than $15. We got 3/4 of they
way home, just before the road turns really crappy so Rich said to him if he wanted to stop there
we would pay $10 and if he took us the rest of the way it would be $15.
well the driver didn't like this, he went a bit crazy, "no no you pay $20, $20!" Rich
argued with him a bit in tetum, from what we worked out later on, he was trying to say Mick
had said to pay $20. Because he thought we didn't understand his conversation with Mick.
Rich argued with him a bit more, he then turned the car around and started flooring it in the
other way, away from our place. We kept arguing, telling him to stop etc, he wouldn't,
and he wouldn't listen to reason or even take the money. Rich pulled his hand break and
yelled for us to get out of the car, I was in the middle in the back so I was so scared that
I wouldn't get out before he had time to take the break off and keep going, luckily he
stalled it so I did have time to jump out.
Mat and I got out on the passenger side, and Rich on the drivers side, as he got out the
driver swung around and punched him in the face, gave him a black eye, the driver went a bit
crazy, he was trying to punch and kick Rich so Mat and I were trying to defend him and stop him etc, was
crazy. where we ended up stopping happened to be out the front of the houses of a group of boys we
had made friends earlier, so they came out and held the driver back and told us to run. A
few of the boys ran with us down the road kinda like a guard. We have no idea what happened with the
driver. The boys said today that he just left. We think he was drunk which obviously
Further down the road another young guy who was friends with these guys took us into his
house, he was a Timorese guy who had been trained as a doctor in Cuba. He iced Rich's
eye and fixed him up, he was such a nice guy. This sums up the Timorese people. Always willing to help in any way
they can, absolutely amazing.
Ok mum your allowed to start reading again.
Sunday was a pretty slow day. We met up with Mick and had lunch, after having to jump start
his car he gave us a tour of Dili. It was amazing and at times horrifying to see this place
through his eyes. He drove us through a few sites of some of the worst Indonesian
atrocities, explaining the history of places, pointing out good places to eat, a good hairdresser and just generally giving us a outlay of the place.
one of the places he told us about was Santa Cruz, there was a massacre here in 1991, it really changed they history of timor.
where it happened is a road between 2 cemetery's so for a 100m stretch there is reasonably high walls that kinda box you in.
basically what happened is there was a group of students peacefully protesting, the death of one of their friends, who had been killed by the Indonesian police.
instead of allowing them to protest peacefully then leave, they were ambushed by the Indonesian military. they lined up and hid on each side behind the cemetery walls so that the students didn't know they were there and blocked then in and started firing, nearly 250 people were killed at this site, then up to another 200 more were hunted down and executed.
it was absolutely horrific, though this changed the course of the war, and was the tipping point for the retreat of Indonesia and the push towards Timors Independence. i didn't explain that very well, look at the wiki page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_Massacre
While driving around the stories Mick was telling were chilling, talking of driving down a certain street in 2006 and for every house to be on fire, bodies lying across roads, absolutely horrific.
he told us about riving down a a road that was in the Badlands, where no one would go, not even the Australian military were allowed to. he was driving one day and was stopped by a heap of big 44 gallon drums being rolled it onto the road, then saw in his mirror that more were being rolled out behind him, and having a gang appear with baseball bats and anything else they could find to beat the shit out of his car/him etc..; the only thing that saved him was the fact that he had been basically the face of Australia on the news/radio throughout the retreat of Indonesia and the peacekeeping of the Aussies. they said to him, if you were anyone else we would have fucked you up..
we drove around for a few hours with him telling us many stories like this. crazy man.
I'm gonna post this for now and add part 2 later on.. Mat is hungry so were going to get some lunch.