This afternoon I finally arrived in East Timor, which incidentally from Minnesota, takes two and a half days. I spent 24 hours in Japan, arriving at midnight to Bali where I spent all of 5 hours before taking off again. Thanks to my own inability to follow international date lines, I spent about three hours too long in the Bali airport this morning, awaiting my uneventful flight to Dili, the capital of East Timor.
After three days and two nights of relative solitude and sleep deprivation, I can very easily say that East Timor (Timor in Malay means East, meaning that the official name of the country is East East) is pretty much the farthest corner of the globe I've been to yet.
It's similar to Banda Aceh, in that it's remote, has a tenous relationship with Indonesia, and been through a devastating turn of events (in Timor's case, national violence instead of BA's tsunami). However, the scenery and attitude couldn't be more different. First of all, I arrived in early afteroon, in sweltering heat, to a mountainous island deep into the dry season. BA, last November by comparison, was lush and green with opportunity.
East Timor is 90% plus Roman Catholic - which means less strict dress codes than BA and more alcohol, always welcome to the Western woman's palate. If I were charged to make a guess, I'd also surmise that the standard of living here is much lower - and the population much much younger. In relation to the other countries I've visited, upon first impression, this feels like to poorest.
Granted, it's only been my first day - but so far so good. the hotel bed is comfortable and the internet accesible. My work colleagues are terrific - they took me for supper of cooked barricuda on the beach - and I'm sad of thinking that they are both leaving by the end of this week. But then, if they weren't leaving, why would I be here?