Sunday, April 30, 2006

(East Timor Problems) We venture out

Today I am going out of mind. I really need to get out of the house as cabin fever is setting in. Moreover, we are in desperate need of bottled water as the one we have has a slow leak and we have therefore run out faster than anticipated. We consulted Senyor about going to the supermarket and whether it would be safe. He thought it would be as the main road had been reopened. Later that afternoon we ventured out. Walking up our little dirt road to the main road we again came across very few people. When we did, we greeted them warmly. We soon found a taxi and negotiated with the driver to take us to the supermarket and home again. The streets were very quiet with hardly any pedestrians, motorcycles or cars but at least there was some human movement.

Only the exit to the supermarket’s parking area was open and the place was full of cars packed to the rafters with boxes of bottled water. “Panic buying”, I remarked to Daniel. The supermarket itself was also buzzing with more people than we had ever seen including many upper-middle class Timorese, few (if any) who have the money to shop at such places. Given that most of the smaller kiosks and markets in Dili were closed, they had little choice but to come to the malae establishments.

I soon noticed that a litre of imported soymilk from Australia had risen from $2.75 to $3 and wondered if this was indicative of all products. Thankfully it wasn’t.

When leaving the supermarket I ran into a colleague and her three children. I asked after her and she said she was fine. She told me that one of our colleagues had fled to Don Bosco and another to the American Embassy; and she had thought that given the situation, I would have returned to Australia. Lae (no) I said emphatically and thought to myself, it would have to be a lot more serious than this!

I endeavoured to purchase a $10 mobile telephone card but the young men selling it to me wanted $11 for it! Huh, capitalism rears its head in Timor after all! I declined, as I knew Daniel had plenty of credit on his phone and within a couple of days, the price was bound to return to normal.

Tonight we watched another of Hayao Miyazaki animated gems Castle in the Sky with an intermission break to watch the local news on television and a televised message from Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Both maintained that things had returned to normal and that it was safe to return home and resume normal lives once more. We finished watching the film and then ate Chinese vegetarian dumplings imported from Korea while we watched the penultimate episode of series two of Spooks.

Our home in Rai Kotu

A neighbour's empty home, normally alive with children and adults

One of the more colourful homes in our neighbourhood vacated by its occupants

This pool table is normally surrounded by young men playing a game, today it sits in silence

Our deserted street in Rai Kotu, normally bustling with human and animal activity

Our empty street

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)


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