Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas in Timor

Life size nativity scenes have been slowly making an appearance on the streets of Dili in the lead up to Christmas (but unlike in the West, they appear at a reasonable time not months beforehand!). It would appear that communities build them themselves. The one at the end of our street is still in the making so we wonder exactly when it will be ready for us to take a photo of for the blog. The ones that are finished around town are all lit up thanks to the government promising to give us near on 24 hour power in the lead up to Christmas. (I’m happy because it allows me to have the air con on at work and the fans on at home. As a result, I’m saving my body precious water and salt.) The Australian Embassy even has one on its front lawn complete with a kangaroo in a santa hat! Pleeaasse, how tacky can they get.

Daniel’s theory of the many nativity scenes that have sprung up every 500 metres through Dili is that it is one of the few positive products of Timor’s hordes of unemployed young men. Normally, they just sit on the side of the road watching the world go by, gambling, playing pool and occasionally getting into fights. Now they are busily engaged every evening in the design and construction of these often wonderfully creative displays.

Traffic this week has been horrendous; it really feels like a Christmas rush; so many cars on the roads and as a result, it takes longer to get around. I would never have thought of such a thing happening in Timor. (I’ve begun to wonder if in fact there is a secret shopping mall that we don’t know about that is stocked with quality items for purchase but I doubt it.)

We came home last night to find that Senyora had erected a small Christmas tree for us complete with little decorations just like we would have at home. We were genuinely touched (now we just have to pluck up the courage to tell the family that we’re abandoning Timor for 10 days in Bali on Christmas Eve. I’m sure they’re looking forward to serving us “bibi malae”.)

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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