Friday, December 11, 2009

"Hau sei fila fali" (I will return) .... um I think that is what I've written!

G'day all!

Well I've been back in the Land Down Under for a week now. It's been so hectic at work that I haven't had a chance to write about my last week in Timor until now! As I write this blog, the AFI Awards are on TV and the movie 'Balibo' is scooping up awards which is awesome! So I thought it was a good time to sit down and write about Timor. It's also a good way to avoid packing for my trip home to NZ. I love my family and I am dying to see them but I REALLY hate packing!

Anyway, as you can imagine,my last week in Timor was pretty packed as I tried to tie up a few loose ends, squeeze in some last minute meetings, and say goodbye to everyone over lunches, dinners, rather nice wine and G&Ts! It was so sad saying "Adeus" to the wonderful people I met during my stay - I wanted to stay longer! I had to keep telling myself that I would be back in 2010 even if only for a short trip.... but that only worked once in a while!!

During my last week I made it down to the local food 'tent restaurants' at the embassy end of the beach and finally had that chicken on a stick I'd been wanting to try since I arrived! It was cool sitting there looking out over the beach (through cooking smoke haze!)and with my chicken before I attempted the long walk back to my end of town.

Of course in my last week I HAD to visit my little local Sri Lankan restaurant just one more time. I'm already missing that place! There are however a couple of things I won't miss about Timor.......

* The taxis constantly beeping to get your attention during the day (on approach, as they pull up next to you and as they pull away from you - just in case you changed your mind in the 10 secs it took for that to all happen). AND THEN, not being able to get a taxi at night because they stop at about 8pm .... mind you what am I talking about - you can't get a taxi in the Sydney at night either!;

* the large open drains down the sides of the roads - I have to say I am amazed that despite my clumsiness I never fell in one! Although there were a few close calls (shudder!);

* Having to brush my teeth with bottled water all the time and having 'bucket showers" and drop loos when visiting the districts;

* The constant river of sweat that ran down my back (yeah sorry about the imagery there!).

But those are all minor and the things I will miss far outweigh them that's for certain. Just to mention a few........

* the pace of life (yes it can be frustrating some times, especially when there are deadlines, but it was nice as well);

* The cheap local restaurants - with great food (and the odd rampaging wild pig!);

* My 'make shift office' in the One More Bar restaurant that over looked the harbour. Pretty inspiring view as I worked - and beats the wall I face in Sydney!;

* The coconut and pineapple drink (non alcoholic!) at One More Bar that I became addicted to and was almost automatically brought to me when I sat down there! Mind you I don't think my waistline will miss that particular indulgence;

* all the "kindred spirits" I met and the lovely friends I made;

Actually I'm going to miss most things about Timor - It was a fabulous experience and an amazing opportunity. I even managed to learn a thing or two about myself - always a good thing!

I am continuing to learn Tetun although it is harder back in Sydney. However, my friends back in Timor have promised to help and I have promised to write to them in Tetun every now and again!

Well here endeth this blog. I am going to take the next few weeks to mull over my time in Timor and shift through and digest all the things that happened. Maybe I'll let you know what I come up with.......


d x

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elikopteru sae ho ida fahi fuik ("Helicopter ride and a wild pig")

Okay tis the end of Week 6! Only a few days to go and there is so much more that I would like to do (but isn’t that always the case?!). I had a very busy week but it was filled with some pretty cool experiences so I’m not complaining. Once again I was writing grants (almost every spare moment I had!), visiting hospitals and conducting interviews for potential candidates. However, in addition there were trips in UN troop carrier helicopters, a beautiful sleepy seaside town, a rampaging pig during dinner (yes you read that correctly), Independence Day celebrations and fireworks.......

I visited two more district referral hospitals this week and got to see even more of this lovely country. On Monday we drove to Baucau which is about 3 hours drive east of Dili and is the second largest town in the country. Once again we drove by the beautiful scenery and the occasional Portuguese church at high speed but I did see some of it, especially when I stuck my head out the window to avoid throwing up!!!

On Tuesday I visited Oecusse which is the East Timorese coastal enclave in West Timor. Max (one of our 2009 Fellows) is the Director of Oecusse Hospital so I wanted to check out his hospital as well as interview 5 potential candidates for the Fellowship program. Normally one would have to either experience the 10 hour overnight ferry journey from Dili or drive for about 8 hours from Dili crossing the West Timor border (with passport and Indonesian visa) to get access to Oecusse. Given my track record in cars, I had reluctantly resigned myself to the ferry journey – surprisingly I don’t get sick on a boat! However, after many phone calls to different people in the UN I eventually managed to find out who was in charge of the UN flights. Armed with the proper paperwork and a nice letter from the Ministry of Health stating I was on Ministry business, I was granted permission to FLY to Oecusse (a 50 minute journey) – in a UN troop carrier helicopter!!

The helicopter flight was fantastic and really noisy (hence the massive earmuffs they handed out). Sitting in it was like being in one of those military movies you see on TV – minus the cute men in uniform and the ‘Tour of Duty’ soundtrack blaring – okay so it was nothing like it, but it was still trĂ©s cool my friends!!

Unfortunately Max had been called to Dili for an urgent meeting of all Hospital Directors the night before I arrived in Oecusse but he had arranged everything for me. I was picked up at the ‘airport’ by Antonio and Jac from the hospital who took me straight to lunch at one of the few restaurants around and then on to the hospital for the rest of the day. Max even organised for me to stay the night at “a friend’s home right by the beach” (as he put it) – it turns out that it was the home of the Secretary of State for Oecusse who was away at the time! So I felt very spoilt as I sat on the veranda looking out at the gorgeous beach front in Pantemakassar! Pantemakassar is a sleepy little seaside place even though it is the main town in Oecusse. If Oecusse wasn’t so hard to get to, it would be the perfect little weekend getaway! Flew back to Dili the next day and yes the helicopter was just as cool the second time round – I just had to imagine the ‘Tour of Duty’ soundtrack!!

On Thursday night, I met up with Helen and Anita for dinner again. We’d just received our first dish at the Chinese restaurant when there was a loud crash and a MASSIVE wild pig with tusks burst through the door, bristles standing at attention, and rampaged through the place!!! It was complete chaos and mayhem for about 40 minutes as we clambered up onto tables and chairs to avoid being bowled over - Hilarious! After checking that we okay, Helen went in to save the red wine while Anita and I checked that no one stood on the calamari at the same time as building a barricade around us and taking photos (multitasking and priorities during a crisis is important ok?!) They eventually subdued and "hogtied" (sorry!) the pig to take it out - poor piggy! Only in Timor though!!!!! I have a feeling there may have been roast pork on the menu the next day!

Saturday was Independence Day (from Portugal) celebrations – so I headed to the Palace de Presidente to watch the official ceremony with the masses in the intense heat (even though it was only 9.30am!!). Half way through the long ceremony I located much needed shade (although I think I may have wandered into the local media zone!). I didn’t care at that point since I was just a ball of sweat and needed to be wrung out! Nothing like the feel of rivers of sweat running down your back – yuk! That evening there was a great fireworks display at Parliament House – very close to where I live. Apparently the fireworks were done by the Chinese team that did the Beijing Olympics. I watched them from the Bar at the same time as watching the ‘Whose got Talent’ competition which was a mix of awesome, good and bad (oh and that special category - “didn’t any of your friends tell you that you couldn’t sing?!”).

Week six over and out......

D xx

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dalan ba Balibo ho Maliana (“The Road to Balibo and Maliana”)

Well week 5 came and went in the blink of an eye and before I know it week 6 is about to end too! Spent most of week 5 writing grants (I have two to write before the 2nd Dec!), visiting hospitals, and conducting interviews for potential candidates for the next round of our Timor Leste Health Leaders Fellowships Program which we’d like to run in 2010 (if we can get funding of course!). Also squeezed in quite a few meetings and some nice dinners (well a girl has to eat)!

The first batch of interviews at the National Hospital went really well. It is always helpful to meet the applicants face to face and although it is full on I enjoy meeting everyone and finding out more about them and what they do. There were some exceptional candidates and I really hope that we get the chance to bring some over to Australia for 3 months next year. After experiencing something similar here in Timor I know how useful such an opportunity can be. Well fingers crossed!

Visiting some of the hospitals and health centres has been tiring but definitely worthwhile. At the beginning of the week I visited Klibur Domin Rehabilitation Centre (where Joaquim – one of our Fellows this year - is the Director). Joaquim and Alice (an Australian Physio who has been volunteering in Timor Leste for the last two years) showed me around. The Centre does a great job on limited funds.

My visit to Maliana to see the Referral Hospital on Thursday was about a three hour drive west of Dili. I was with Ostelino and Jose from the Ministry of Health and we took the coastal route. I get car sick so the prospect of being on a winding road for that long wasn’t pleasant but the coastal road was much better (apparently) than the inland route... and prettier. Jose was driving and he must have thought he was a rally driver because he was going through huge pot holes and dirt roads like he had a race to win! In Dili, cars rarely go more than 20km/hr so Jose was driving at what felt like break neck speeds in comparison! I also think I might be a few inches shorter after the experience – I swear my vertebrae have collapsed in on each other in protest after being tossed around the back seat of a car with little resembling suspension! Craig – you’d better book me in for some intense chiro sessions when get back – I can’t afford to be shorter then I already am!! Anyway I did manage to see some of the view as it whizzed by and it was beautiful. Occasionally we would even slow down enough so I could snap a quick photo.

To get to Maliana we went through Balibo so I got to see the ‘Australian Flag House’ which has been converted into a community centre. Balibo itself is a tiny place that you probably wouldn’t take much notice of normally. However, after reading so much about the place as well as seeing the movie about the Bailbo 5 and Roger East, is was strange wandering through knowing what had happened there. The road to Balibo is lined with the most beautiful red flowered trees. I took “hundreds” of photos trying to capture how magnificent they were but failed I’m afraid!

We spent a couple of hours at Maliana Hospital where I interviewed a potential Fellow and looked around the hospital with the Director (after I’d got my ‘land legs’ back – told you the driving was crazy!). We then headed back to Dili once at breakneck speeds after a wander through the marketplace and a quick lunch (otherwise known as “something to throw up” if motion sickness set in on the windy road back). However, we got back to Dili safe and almost sound (and thankfully still with the contents of my stomach intact!).

On Friday I met with Helen and Anita (Australian Paramedics and lecturers) who were running a two week training course for the ambulance service. The training was funded by the Military Order of Malta so I also met with David (Ambassador for the Order) and Lieut Cnl Tony (the Project Coordinator for Timor Leste). It was a good opportunity to discuss how we might collaborate more especially since we do critical care/emergency training of doctors and nurses at the hospitals. I was invited to a dinner that night hosted by the Order and got to know Anita and Helen who are great fun and I suspect very good in a crisis, being former paramedics! The three of us went out for dinner again on Sunday. I took them to one of my favourite restaurants here – a little Sri Lankan restaurant close to where I live. Actually it’s the place I suggest to most people if we are arranging dinner meetings. In fact I’d already had a big dinner there with Susan, Beth, Dominique (all from HAI), Lauri and Brett (both from TAIS ) and Zoe (MoH Advisor) on Tuesday – I should be getting commission! The restaurant doesn’t appear to have a name except for “The Sri Lankan Restaurant” but has awesome food that is also really cheap! The downside is that you can sometimes sit there for an hour waiting for it – they haven’t quite got that bit down pat!

Well that was pretty much week 5 for you .......


D x

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hau servisu depois hau halimar ......I work and then I relax

Missed doing my blog for last week and am now approaching the end of my 5th week ..... Time is just speeding on by (despite Timor timing!) and there is definitely a lot to keep me busy!!!

So what can I tell you about week 4? Well there was a remembrance day, an inauguration, a couple of invitations, a visit by a colleague from USYD and a Sat trip to a gorgeous wee island.

Main events, workwise........

On Tuesday I got invited by the Minister of Health to sit in on his weekly meeting of the Cabinet of Health Research and Development as they are forming a new Research Institute. The meeting was fascinating mainly because it chopped and changed between four different languages – Tetun, Portuguese, English and Indonesia – Surprisingly I somehow managed to understand most of what was going on, don’t ask me how! The Minister was kind enough to stop once in a while and explain the gist of the discussions and I was secretly chuffed with myself when his explanation matched what I had thought everyone was talking about!! He then gave me a lift home and it was only when I got out of the car did I realised we had a police escort all the way back – in some ways everyone is so laid back here you forget that sort of thing tends to happen with Ministers!!

Wednesday evening I caught up with two of our Timorese Fellows who we brought over to Sydney this year for three months – Joaquim (Director of Klibur Domin Rehabilitation Centre) and Lucio (one of only FIVE dentists in Timor Leste). It was fantastic to see them and chat about what they had been up to since getting back from Sydney.

Friday afternoon I went to the inauguration of the new training centre at the National Hospital (funded by USAID). We were not allowed in until all the formalities had finished so were all sat outside as Dr Odete (Director of the Hospital), the US Ambassador and the Vice Minister of Health gave speeches. Then some doctors and nurses sang the hospital song (and were also quite bizarrely joined by some Chinese Drs when they sang a Chinese song!!!!!). The ribbon was finally cut and we got to see the inside of the centre which looks great and will be really useful (speaking from purely selfish motives for the training we do!!). Once inside the centre I did think for one moment that there was going to be a real life emergency as the US soldier with the Ambassador almost fell over because the floors were so new, shiny and incredibly slippery!! At least some of the ER docs and nurses who were involved in our training were there and hopefully they would have been able to spring into action!!!

All work would be bad so what did I do that was non work or half work/half play this week?.........

Well Thursday 12th was a public holiday in remembrance of the Santa Cruz Massacre when a significant number of young Timorese were killed as they attended a funeral at the Santa Cruz cemetery. Michelle (my colleague from USYD) had arrived on Wednesday so the two of us caught up on Thursday to wander the streets so she could get her bearings. We avoided the main public service at the Cemetery and only went later in the day when most people had finished their memorials. I had seen Max Stahl’s video footage of the massacre the night before so going back to the Cemetery for a second time was even more meaningful.

On Saturday I tagged along with the President’s Office, (once again thanks to Mike!), as they went across to Atauro Island - for Atauro Island Day and to check out the locations for the big fishing competition coming up soon. We were going across on the public ferry so all headed to the terminal at the Wharf. While I was listening intently for my name to be called by one of the office staff to get my ticket to board I rather embarrassingly managed to snub the President who was standing nearby and who had said hello to me twice before someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me he was speaking to me! If you could have seen me blush you would have but luckily my dark skin manages to hide that mostly – instead I said a flustered “Bon dia” and retreated!

The 2 hour ferry trip across was great. I bumped into heaps of familiar faces - some of the Aus Youth Volunteers, as well as Michelle from USYD and the team from Health Alliance International. Got to have a great chat with Susan and her team from HAI and find out what they do here in Timor – they are a fabulous bunch!! The Island is absolutely gorgeous and the water as we approached was this awesome blue. On the Island we were shuttled to this lovely restaurant near an eco lodge - both community run. The food was really tasty and I had to stop myself from going up for more.

As some of you will know – I can pretty much shop anywhere and yes I found a place to shop on the Island! As luck would have it, right opposite the restaurant was a women’s co-op that made gorgeous cloth handbags and Timorese dolls. I bought a FEW things but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) I hadn’t taken heaps of money across with me so had to retire from my shopping spree early!

We were driven back to the beach where a cultural show was put on by the “sucos” (villages) on the island. We then headed back on the ferry with the masses (minus the President) and did the 2 hour journey back. On the ferry over I had been invited to a dinner and party hosted by the Portuguese Ambassador at the Guarda Nacional Republicaria (I think that is the Portuguese compound – not sure though). however despite not really doing much all day I was pretty exhausted and decided to decline on the way back – yes sad I know – but a quiet night at home with a good DVD was needed – yes even more pathetic!!!

There you go.... that was week 4 in Timor Leste. I’ll get back to you with the low down on week 5 shortly.

d xx

Monday, November 9, 2009

Loke Matan! Hasan nanaal!


Finished my third week and already head first into the fourth. Have to say last week was full on and it pretty much covered the full gamut of emotions! Just some advanced warning – this could be a long blog – have lots to tell!

It was so great having the rest of the critical care skills team here from Sydney all of last week. I have to admit it was initially it was a bit of a shock to the system – well going from just me to having another 7 people around most of the time was pretty intense!! However, I got over that quickly enough and it was just so much fun with the gang together again. The workshops we ran at the National Hospital were hard work but they went really well so were worth it despite the long and tiring days.

Working hard did lead to the team playing hard on a couple of nights – for medicinal and therapeutic purposes only though!! One particular night started with an innocent enough dinner but was quickly followed by crazy dancing - not naming any names Rog - to Talking Heads in One More Bar (imagine Peter Garret moves mixed with a some 80s jazzercise if you dare) – and a couple of games of pool on a dodgy table with only one cue! That night ended with a trek to a Portuguese Karaoke Bar by the beach (yes we found a Karaoke Bar in Dili!!!) so that AD (aka the “Delaniac”) could sing Karaoke for the first time – Nirvana his band of choice – Smells like Teen Spirit - the song that stopped Dili! His warm up act was a certain LT who wowed the audience with her rendition of Dancing Queen - complete with dancing! Between us we managed to make it back to our hotels - nothing like a bit of team work and bonding!! I do have photographic and video evidence but will keep that under wraps until there is a need for blackmail!!!

So what else have I been up to? Well you would have thought that with such an intense week of workshops AND with the team here I wouldn’t have time for much else...... almost correct.... but not quite! The week also involved a former president, a Major, a hilarious early morning aerobics session, a road trip to Maubisse (via Santa Cruz cemetery) and .... oh yes.....President Ramos Horta!

Let me elaborate, if I may? – actually I can since this is my blog! .......

On Tuesday Lyndal and I were invited to have coffee with Sr Francisco Xavier- the first President of Timor Leste (for that shortest of periods between when the Portuguese left and Indonesia invaded). He told us some amazing stories about his life while I politely sipped the tiniest amount of Timorese coffee (yes me drinking coffee – geez I had head spins after that – pathetic I know!). We thought we only had half an hour with him since he was meeting with the Prime Minister so we kept getting up to go but then being told to stay longer! He even took us on a drive (complete with UN police escort!) to show us his new home that overlooks Dili.

On Thursday night the whole team had dinner with Major Michael Stone who is an advisor to President Ramos Horta and is the man who knows how to get things done!Really nice guy as well. For those of you into the movie trivia – Mike played the interviewer in “Balibo” (an awesome film worth seeing if you haven’t already).

Friday morning Roger and I ran to the Hospital for a 6.30am exercise session. It was mix of line dancing, 80s aerobics Oz style and zumba! We were at a huge disadvantage because everyone seemed to know what to do except the two of us. What was worse... one of the doctors videotaped our attempt to look coordinated - totally hilarious! Needless to say we were relieved when we had to leave so that we could run back home! Never thought I'd be so happy to go for a run!!

Sadly on Saturday morning most of the team left Dili on what was MEANT to be an early flight out to Darwin. I accompanied them as far as passport control and then left thinking that they would be in Darwin soon while I headed on the long, hilly and nausea inducing road that led to Maubisse with Kirsty and her daughter Gabby. I didn’t know until later that the poor guys were stuck at Dili Airport for 3 hours because the plane was broken and they were waiting for two smaller planes from Darwin to come and get them! Apparently Roger was on the verge of chewing off AD's arm he was so hungry!

En route to Maubisse we stopped at the Santa Cruz Cemetery which was quite a sobering experience but it was good to see such a significant place for the Timorese people. Maubisse was beautiful (and lovely and cool!!!). We were visiting to check out the Hospital and meet up with Moises (who is the Nursing Director there and was one of our AusAID Fellows this year in Sydney). When we arrived Moises was at the church having choir practice for mass the next day so we got invited to watch. The choir sung so beautifully – however when they asked us to join in, the quality may have dropped a tad! We were woken by the dawn church bells at 5.30 and went up to the Portuguese Pousada on the hill to see the sunrise which was gorgeous.

Okay, I realise that this blog has gone on and on and on....sorry! But I have only one more story to tell and it is cool I swear......

Thanks to Mike, on Sunday (back in Dili) we got to have G and T’s with President Ramos Horta at his lovely home! A totally awesome experience for the three of us as you can imagine. Not every day you get to sit and chat with a President and Nobel Prize winner. He pours a mean G and T by the way – so yet again I was slowly sipping my drink with a President! The funniest moment was when the President told Gabby she looked like Paris Hilton and then persuaded his little nieces that she was! In their eyes, his credibility shot right up – who cares about Nobel Peace prizes - Many photos were taken!! The President invited us to stay on for dinner since he had a small group coming around – Unfortunately Kirsty and Gabby had to leave because they had a previous dinner engagement but I was able to stay and got to meet some interesting Red Cross, UN and business people. I was trying to act cool and calm the whole time I was at his home but failed miserably and had to pinch myself every now and again just to make sure I was actually awake! It was a fantastic opportunity and I have to say the President is a very charming and smart man.

Now that’s one way to end a week right?!

Miss all of you so you better be missing me!!

d x

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I’m getting darker by the day..........Sorry Mum, just can’t help it here!

Coming to the end of my second week here which has been fun, frustrating, challenging, exciting and....oh yes....damn hot!

Becoming quite the expert at cooking on my little hotplate by the way! Can even buy my veges at the market using very stilted tetun now. Haven’t quite plucked up the courage to buy one of the fresh fish from the morning fish market though....mainly because I haven’t a clue how to gut a fish and I don’t know the tetun for “will you gut and clean that strange looking fish for me?”. Haven’t had to gut a fish since i was 17 and caught a fish while on a youth camp. They made us gut what we caught. Haven’t gone fishing since!

Had my first week of Tetun classes and really enjoyed the challenge. Got those “leetle grey zells” working in a very different way. Never been that good at languages so am a little proud that I’ve managed to learn how to string a sentence together in Tetun! My memory is a bit lacking so I do struggle to remember the words I want to use sometimes but hey not bad after only one week!

Work is moving along okay. Can be a bit frustrating sometimes but overall getting things done – “uitoan – uitoan” (“little by little”)! Most of the critical care training team arrived yesterday morning from Sydney. I got up bright and early to pick them up from the airport and practised my Tetun on route with the hospital driver. It’s exciting to have the team together again - not only do we work well together, we have lots of fun as well – which is always important when you have to work so hard doing the training! Just like last June, we are running basic emergency care training sessions at the National Hospital. We are also running an educators’ workshop to train potential educators here. A couple of the others arrive on Monday which happens to be a big public holiday here connected to All Souls Day (which is today). We are planning to head to the Jesu Statue this afternoon since a few of the team haven’t been there. There are about 500 steps up to it so probably best we do that LATER in the afternoon when it is a bit “cooler”!

Did I happen to mention how hot it is here?! I have gone about 50 shades darker and that is with sunscreen on!! Lucky that I don’t burn really! I did learn very quickly how to say “I FEEL hot” in tetum (“Hau senti manas”) as opposed to “I AM hot” ("Hau manas”) which has an ENTIRELY different connotation and should not be used at all!!!!!!

Right, I’m off to meet the others who are waiting for me at their hotel round the corner.

D xx

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brinzela ida hira? (“How much are the aubergines”?)

Sitting in my room, kicking back with a cool drink after cooking my first meal with local veges bought from the street markets using a little one element hot plate! Have been in Dili for almost a week now and am getting my bearings (well kind of!) – I walked back from the hospital without getting lost today so that was pretty impressive for me. All these little things to write about but I’ll try to just pick a few.

Was invited to an opening ceremony at the hospital for the nursing diploma 3 students on Thursday. The ceremony started late (Timor timing!) which gave me the opportunity to talk to Senhor Domingas a lovely old man who used to be a nurse at the National Hospital during Portuguese time but was then imprisoned for 15 years during Indonesian occupation. He had help escaping to Portugal where he lived for 15 years before returning back home to Timor recently. I could see that it was painful for him to talk about where he was from or his family (his father and brothers died in the hills during that time) so we moved onto talking about the nursing students whom he is now teaching. Although Senhor Domingas’s specific story is unique, stories like his are unfortunately common here.

At the ceremony these gorgeous little Timorese girls sang the National Anthem and this other lovely song (see video attached) – really sweet voices. Then this other dude was called up to sing a song that had everyone very excited. I didn’t get to find out what was so special about that song or the man but it was great to see everyone clapping and singing along! I’ve been to a couple of opening ceremonies before (they are common here – part of a tradition) but this was the first one with singing – very cool.

I arrived in Dili at the same time as the newest batch of Australian Youth Volunteers so I have been invited along to a couple of their events and briefings. They’re an enthusiastic bunch and it’s been nice meeting them and hearing their plans for their time here. I also happened to bump into Moises (one of the Timorese Fellows we brought across to Sydney this year for 3 months) while wandering along the Esplanada looking for a place to have a quick lunch the other day, (it’s a small place obviously). He practically leapt out at me when he saw me passing his grandfather’s house! Totally unexpected since I thought he was in Maubisse but great to see a familiar face (and smiling as Moises always is!!).

Went for a run today along the beach front. I waited until after 5pm but still broke into a sweat almost immediately. It was still so hot and not conducive at all for running if you ask me! However I persevered and managed to survive a workout. Now you would think that being away for 7 weeks would exempt me from serious exercise... but then you don’t know my trainer Luke! Luke has devised a series of exercises for me to do while here – he even put them on a dvd which shows him doing the exercises so that I can’t even pretend that I forgot how to do something!! AND (yes there is more) he even bought me a Swiss ball to take!! Pumping up the Swiss ball with that tiny foot pump was enough of an effort really and should have been included as part of my routine!! Luke you’ll be happy to know that the Swiss Ball is going to this great rehab place in Klibur Domin when I leave.

Okay I have rattled on enough – time to sign off.


d x

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hau iha (I'm here)......

Arrived in Dili last night after a pretty uneventful day of travelling (unless you call spraying perfume in my face accidently in Darwin duty free an “incident” - I’m so unco sometimes!). Got met at the airport by someone from the National hospital although for a while there I did think they had forgotten about me– but it was just traffic which was relief!

It’s pretty hot and humid here – I think that the laundry is going to get great business out of me as I am going through my meagre supply of clothes quite rapidly! Had the day to myself today so I had time to orient myself. However as most of you will already know, my sense of direction is awful and there is no way I’ll be able to orient myself in 7 weeks never mind one day!!! People seem to assume I am Timorese until I open my mouth – I spent a lot of time looking blankly at people as they rattled on at high speed in tetum. Have booked myself in for an intensive Tetum language beginner’s course all of next week (to start with at least) – hoping this at this will help me say more than “Diak a lae” “Obrigada” and count to ten!!!

Have a meeting first thing tomorrow at the National Hospital and then a briefing with an Embassy person – not entirely sure what that involves but it does sound intriguing doesn’t it?!
D xx

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Final Countdown...........

Diak a lae?!
Only two days before I fly out. You'd think I'd be all packed and organised but oh no let's avoid that yet again! Nothing like leaving the packing until the night before.... even when going away for 7 weeks! My plan while in Timor Leste is to keep a blog, but, having never done this before it could go horribly wrong....just like that last sentence!

Okay off to bed (another way on avoiding packing!).

Be in touch when I touch down in Dili.