A Travellerspoint blog

I snap again

Thursday 4th June – 6 months, 19 days

Been a bit snappy lately. I snapped again this morning. Ooo! Why? The stereo next door came on at 6.30am. It’s not like this is unusual. Ever since the neighbours got a billiards table and a big fat bassy stereo, they play music all day every day: early in the morning, from 2 in the afternoon until 2am. And it’s always party-style Indonesian pop stuff, it’s not exactly relaxing.

Anyway, I was already awake, but I can’t even listen to the radio in my own house when they have the stereo going – it’s just too loud. So I went next door, hollered, no one came out, I crept around the side, hollered, no one came out, went in (the doors are always open), found three people sleeping in the room next to the stereo, came out and turned the stereo down myself. A young guy popped out of the kitchen at that point to see who was touching the stereo, but I made ‘apologetic face’, put my hands over my ears and he nodded, seeming to get it.

Of course, it was back up to ‘ears are bleeding’ level in half an hour, but oh well.

I’ve never gone next door and said ‘your music’s too loud’ before. Partly because, I feel like, this is their place, so I can’t say anything. Trying to fit in with the culture, you know? And it doesn’t always bother me; a lot of the time, I don’t really mind. But part of it also is, I know it’s futile. They’re not going to turn it down. No one can make them – I can’t call the police like I would in Australia. And none of them work, apart from the obvious child-caring and other domestic duties: there are about 15 people there at any given time, and they’re all living off the rent I pay for this place, the cockfights (which haven’t happened for a while) and the billiards table.

The fact that someone like me *who works in an office* needs to sleep at night and get up early is entirely foreign to them: they can have a loud party until 4am every night if they feel like it, and they often do; and if someone wants to get up at 6 and turn the stereo on, that’s also cool, and they often do. Nobody is going anywhere or doing anything; just another day of sitting under the tree, and shootin’ some pool.

It’s like my friend Nicole (forgive me for paraphrasing you, Nicole, but you expressed it so well) says: Australians don’t hate the noise most. No, what really bugs us is that in Timor, *we can’t complain*. Bug me with your stereo as much as you want, but take away my right to complain about it and hopefully ruin your fun (loud early weekday morning fun though it may be) and THEN see how passive-aggressively cranky I can be!

Posted by timortimes 18:59 Comments (0)


Tuesday 2nd June – Thursday 4th June

What, are you serious? You want an entry, again? I have to wash my underwear SOME time, people.

Posted by timortimes 18:58 Comments (0)

First day of June, first day of ‘winter’

Monday 1st June – 6 months, 16 days

Hey, look at that. It’s June.


It occurred to me this morning that in all my musings about this year, I’d never actually kind of seen beyond May. Of course I’d make it to the end of the year; November, for example, had taken shape in my head, because I’ll be back in familiar places, seeing familiar people and doing familiar things.

But June? July? August? September? October? Hadn’t quite thought about what I’d do with those. This is so rare for me, it was really disconcerting. I *always* know what I’m doing in the months ahead. I’m not so good at *years* ahead (I’ve never been able to imagine my life realistically more than about a year or two ahead – it just doesn’t seem real), but I’ve always got a plan for the immediate future. Not right now, though.

Maybe it is the warm weather. Of course it’s ‘cooled down’. But the never needing to wear a jumper and getting hot every single time you walk into the sun sort of mucks up your sense of the passage of time. (Incidentally, Canberrans, you know that amazing moment after every Canberra winter where you go outside into the sun and you can actually feel the faint, feeble rays on your skin? Focus on that right now).

Hmm. Well, whatever these months hold, it will be a hell of a lot warmer than Canberra winter. HAHAHAHA

Posted by timortimes 18:56 Comments (0)

The Drive Back: The Longest Road Trip Ever

I won’t do this one in timeline format, otherwise you’ll be here for SIX AND A HALF HOURS LIKE I WAS.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t literally the longest road trip ever. I’ve been on longer ones in Australia, and people go on crazy long ones around the world. But this was the longest in terms of trying my patience.

And, I was really happy to get to go home. We weren’t meant to go home until Tuesday, and just as I was thinking on Monday around lunchtime ‘geez I could just go back home right now’, Armando piped up and said ‘We are thinking this car will go back to Dili tonight.’ I was allll for it.

But now, just for a moment, let’s cast our minds back to that first drive, shall we? Remember how I said, Tino drove like a bat out of hell, and the roads were crazy, and yet we made it in 4 and a half hours?

How did we manage to add two hours to our trip on the way back?

Why, look here! I have a text message saved in my phone, sent to the lovely Kristy at sunset (6pm) when we’d hit the town of Aileu, which will explain.

‘I am on the slowest road trip ever. In 3 hrs, which would normally be 2 hrs drive, we have stopped for: petrol, boys to pee, to climb to a mountain shrine to take photos, for garlic, for vegies, for guavas, and FINALLY for the girls to pee [we have higher standards for toilet stops]... And now that’s done, the boys have disappeared to buy a new goddamn SIM card. And we are still 2.5 hrs from home!!! Wahhh I want to get home before midnight.’

After I texted that to Kristy, the boys reappeared a few moments later and did another one of those classic moves where they very politely offer me something I really don’t want. ‘Mana Kate! We have stopped, we get coffee. If you like, you can take a drink, take rest, eat dinner...’

I’m afraid I lost all patience at that point and got a tad cranky. ‘No. I don’t want dinner. I don’t want a rest. I want... to go... to Dili. I thought we were going to Dili tonight!’.

Oh dear.

I think they realised I’d had it with the pit stops then, because we didn’t have any more stops after Aileu. I felt bad about snapping (and I didn’t even get that cranky, by Australian standards – Timorese are so polite, you feel you can’t do normal levels of cranky), but I hadn’t said anything up to that point, just bit my tongue and tried to be patient. In any case, there were no more stops. Until...

9 k’s out of Dili, when we had to stop on the mountain, because there had been an accident an hour or two before. (Australian army dude put his vehicle into the ditch. No serious injuries, happily, but man, I wasn’t impressed with my countryman.) I was so far beyond fed up at this point that I didn’t really react: didn’t cry, didn’t get annoyed, just thought ‘Well, I guess we’ll be here all night then’.

Amazingly, I was wrong (I think we can credit the Australian army with this: it seems they cleared up the area and made it safe within a couple of hours – no mean feat on a narrow, winding hill road) – we were only there half an hour.

As I dragged myself into the house at 9.32pm, I tried to tell myself that hey, maybe it was a good thing we took such a long time: we could’ve been in that accident if we’d been earlier, or, we could’ve just had a longer wait on the hill into Dili. Could’ve been worse. Could’ve, some how, some way, been worse.

Posted by timortimes 18:53 Comments (0)

Politics about electricity

This is an example of silly things that happen in Timor which seem perfectly reasonable to Timorese people and incomprehensible to malae.

On chatting to the two English teachers staying in the guesthouse, I discover that they have had electricity (from the generator) only for the last three nights, although they’ve been living there for two months. Why? I ask. Couldn’t you ask your organisation to pay for the petrol?

It was supposed to be included in our rent, they say ruefully, but the manager in Dili says he’s giving the owners enough money, and the owners here in Same say no, they aren’t getting the money.

A Portuguese army guy turns up to live, though, and all of a sudden the generator’s running every night.

Seriously, what can you do in a situation like that? It’s ridiculous.

Posted by timortimes 18:52 Comments (0)

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