1 month, 7 days - Tuesday 23rd December
So! Merry Christmas, kids! Today is my last day of work before a break until the 5th of January, yay! I am going to take photos of all the awesome nativity scenes around the place tomorrow - that is after I sleep in - I went for a run this morning and wasn't that a dumb idea?
Different things about Christmas here:
- Government employees get a 25 kilo bag of rice as a Christmas present (I wasn't sorry to miss out - I hate rice)
- All Government departments make their own professional Christmas cards and send them to other departments (this is awesome)
- Government offices, businesses and some private houses go all out with decorations. The Palacio de Governo has a giant Christmas tree (flanked by two life size Santas in full northern hemisphere gear) in the middle of the courtyard (the courtyard is probably 500 m long) that is taller than the Palacio, which is two stories. The Palacio is covered in k's of flex wire lights arranged in dazzling patterns and outlines.
- As aforementioned, nativity scenes with bigger-than-life-size wooden cutouts, stars etc abound around the streets. What I particularly like about these is the fact that they are made from any old thing around: I've seen a couple lined where the back wall is lined with cement sacks.
- There is an even bigger Christmas tree (than the Palacio taller-than-two-storeys one) created out of a fountain and fabric at the airport roundabout. Has to be seen to be believed. Rumour has it a group was given $80,000 to do it, they've spent $30,000 and they don't know what to do with the rest.
- Little lojos - the little corner shops run out of sheds - to big department stores all sell Christmas decorations. (We picked up a little tree with decorations for $4.)
I have commented on all this to other people who've been here longer than I, and they say that it's new, all this stuff, that Christmas stuff is bigger and brighter this year. The general opinion is that the Timorese are feeling ok about celebrating - that they're feeling less scared. This has also been a comment I've heard in conjunction with the comment 'there are lots of people hanging out on the streets these days'.
If that is true, then that is fantastic indeed. Merry Christmas everyone, and merry Christmas Timor-Leste.