A Travellerspoint blog

June 2009

Things I won’t miss when I leave Timor

Tuesday 23rd June – 7 months, 7 days

The pollution in the gorgeous scenery (e.g. water = 8% faeces! Ew)

Extremely creepy dudes lounging in doorways drawling ‘Bondia, honeeeyyyy’ at me*

Fire ants in my bed and on my laptop (SERIOUSLY WHUT? This did not happen at the other house! Also, before you wag your finger at me and say ‘Do you eat on your bed?’, I don’t have a table, of course I bloody eat on my bed.)

Roosters that don’t understand they’re not meant to crow 24 hours a day

The rest of the food: Rice with every (bought) meal, lukewarm food, stale food and lack of food generally (no vending machines! No bakeries where you can buy a takeaway muffin! Because much of the population is struggling with getting rice!)

My bak mandi

Indonesian fucking pop music

Ridiculously expensive phone calls

Free and easy attitude to sanitation (i.e. smelly rubbish everywhere)

  • This isn’t all dudes, by a long shot. Far and away, most young and old men who greet me on the street are politely friendly, with exactly the same manner as the women.

Posted by timortimes 17:24 Comments (0)

Things I will miss when I leave Timor

Monday 22nd June – 7 months, 6 days

The gorgeous scenery

Extremely cute chocolate-coloured toddlers excitedly yelling ‘Malae!’ and waving at me

Sammo and Tarzan lazing around at my door (already stolen my heart, sigh)

Chooks squawking around the yard with teeny tiny chicks cheeping behind

Paying $3.75 for a giant, healthy plate of chicken and vegies

My quiet, breezy verandah

Always being warm

Ridiculously cheap massages

Free and easy attitude to everything (except turning the stereo down, but hey nothing’s perfect in life)

Posted by timortimes 17:23 Comments (0)

Choir Camp at Maubara

Saturday 20th June – Sunday 21st June – 7 months, 4-5 days

What-I-did-this-weekend: Went to a craft fair in Maubara (they make peanut brittle in Timor! It was amazing! Kind of mushily crunchy, so I didn’t break my teeth, and not sickeningly sweet!) and stayed at a convent for choir camp weekend. The convent is some amazing real estate – fantastic views over trees down to the ocean and across to the Indonesian island Alor (thankyou for the name Tracey). I think my favourite part of the weekend was when we were all on the back porch after four hours’ hard singing, watching the sun set over the ocean, drinking*, eating and singing along to the accompaniment of choir members talented with instruments other than voice. I played a shell and cane shaker. I love percussion. Why have I never taken up percussion? Remind me to do that when I’m back in Australia.

Close second would be getting up early to see the sun rise over the beach, though.

I tried to take photos of the convent and the amazing views, but my photos don’t really capture it; it was another one of those things in Timor which is more of a site-specific artwork, best experienced in real life.

  • The nuns were totally cool with this. Convents in Timor are often the best / only accommodation in an area, and so they’re used to catering for big groups. I guess this also includes turning a blind eye to any shenanigans guests get up to – within reason, anyway.

Posted by timortimes 17:22 Comments (0)

I love 27 degree ‘winter’ days

Friday 19th June – 7 months, 3 days

As I sat in the shade of my verandah this morning, eating mandarins, quietly contemplating the plants, it occurred to me that this was another one of those moments that I came to Timor for.

It is *really quiet* at my new place.

Posted by timortimes 17:21 Comments (0)

I do love my job

Thursday 18th June – 7 months, 2 days

If it had been any other week, I would have taken a few days off to be able to unpack properly. Instead I’ve tried to do it in bits between work because it’s been busier than usual. This was mainly due to the CEDAW focus group discussions we’ve been having. Now I’m at the end of the week and on a day off (yay), I think it was worth it because the discussion groups went really, really well.

In another context or country, it might have been overkill – these discussions were to prepare the delegation for their mock session with UNIFEM (which is happening next week), which is to prepare for the *real* session with the UN CEDAW Committee in New York in July. However, this is Timor’s first appearance; it was a chance for everyone to think about the information they need for the mock session; it was a chance to practise being comfortable answering in English; it was a chance to think about the kind of questions they might be asked. And so it helps them use their time with UNIFEM better, and then hopefully by the time they get to New York, they feel as confident as possible.

It also helps iron out potential embarrassing moments. I’ve commented in other entries how I appreciate working with Timorese men and women on gender issues, because many of them are receptive to different ideas, even if their own default set of ideas and assumptions tends to be more sexist than, say, mine.* We had one of those moments where one of the gender advisers running the discussion said ‘Now, do you think it is discriminatory for an interviewer to ask a woman, does her husband mind if she works outside the home?’

I felt a bit sorry for them when we posed these kind questions; people tend to look quizzically at us, trying to work out the correct answer from our faces. They know what they might say, but we are looking for a specific answer and they want to give *our* right answer, not theirs.

Anyway, every other time we did this they got it ‘right’ (do women get the same pay as men, should women and men work in different industries, etc), but this time they all said tentatively ‘No... No, I think this is ok’. So we had an interesting discussion, trying to explain why the four gender advisers felt differently. I tried the tack ‘What about if an interviewer asked a man ‘Does your wife mind you working outside the home?’ but I think it didn’t quite make sense. That was the point, but I couldn’t quite explain why the other way wasn’t ok.

  • I have no real superiority in this regard. As I said, at some stressful point of packing last week, I might work in gender equality but I still want a man to take my bed apart and put it back together, because that is a man job! O deer we all have an inner princess, I guess.

Posted by timortimes 17:21 Comments (0)

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