A busy Dili day

A quick update from what’s suddenly becoming a very busy week.

We started Tetun classes at the Dili Institute of Technology yesterday, and will continue with four hours of morning class every weekday for the next month. This week and next we also have induction activities at the AVI office in the afternoons – more briefings and tours, learning the history, context and culture of Timor and its development – and Laura and I are also looking at a couple of volunteer sharehouses with spare rooms, for us to potentially move into as early as this weekend.

We left the nuns’ place at 8am today to make it through busy traffic to DIT by 8:30am. Alita from AVI drove us, and also picked us up at 12:30pm when we were finished, driving us back to the AVI office. Laura and I went to the cafe across the road for an hour – we did our Tetun homework and ate lunch – and then returned to AVI for a briefing on Timor’s economics and development from a guy from the policy institute La’o Hamutuk (the Tetun phrase for walk together – embarrassingly, he asked us to translate the two simple words, saying you learned them on day one of Tetun class, and I couldn’t). That was dense but fascinating, and our eager questions stretched the 90-minute briefing out to a shade over three hours – but no one seemed in a hurry to leave. As the time ticked towards 6pm Laura and I peeled away to check out the house belonging to another person called Laura – an AVI volunteer and doctor, who lives in an area called Farol, that I couldn’t for the life of me remember in the seconds after I confidently hailed a taxi outside AVI. I understood the driver saying Ita ba nebee? – literally, you go where? – but I couldn’t bloody remember where I go.

Fortunately I remembered and we drove the short distance to other Laura’s, and after a pleasant chat she kindly offered to drive us home to the nuns’ (I’ve recently learned people call this place the madres). I was hamlaha los – very hungry – when we arrived, so I immediately took myself out to the street again and found a warung where I could eat $1 etu no modo (rice and green vegetables) and read. When I returned Laura was sharing dinner with the three doctor women – two Indonesians and a Filipino woman who are living at the madres while they wait for their clinic to re-open. They cook beautiful food together every evening, and invited me to sit with them, so I ate a little more and talked for a while, before dragging out my computer for an hour of Tetun practise (it’s unnerving how quickly there words are falling out of my head) and a quick email check.

It’s been a good, busy day, and I’ve used my brain a lot more than I have over the last few months, so I’m worn out and happy. I’m looking forward to an early night before it all starts again tomorrow.

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