Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Smallest of Small Towns

I can't believe it's only been two days since I last wrote - it feels like forever. I've put in two eleven hour days at the office and have also been pulling 22-hour days, thanks to jet-lag (yeah, thanks) and the roosters that play call and response outside my door.

Dili is a tiny, dusty backwater with, as far as I can tell, two main roads: airport road and beach road (I'm not kidding, they're really referred to by these names). It's not that much different from any other tiny, dusty, backwater town, save the inordinate amount of UN cars around and the correspondingly high expat community.

My hotel is quite nice - it would be a three star hotel in the States, but it's definitely a 5 here, by virtue of having ice cold air conditioning and free in-house internet (although it's DSL, not wireless but hey, I'm not fickle). It helps that it is literally right behind our project office, so I can easily walk to work.

There's alot of dirt and trash and random barbed wire on the street on the awy - plus, I walk by two "massage parlors" which are exactly what you think they are. For the most part though, it's not too bad. Plus, it always helps to be about 50 lbs heavier than even the biggest thug- that always gives me comfort.

The hotel is right around the corner from the beach, and there are many restaurants where you can sit and drink in the sunset (about 6:30 pm every day). My first night here, some project staff took me out to the beach where we had fresh barricuda and shrimp. Yum!

Being a girl from Minnesota, I have been surprised at the quantity and voracity of the mosquitos though. They just won't give up! I've got welts all over that won't go away. My first night here, in the brain fog of 3am, a mosquito bit me right in my PALM! I was in agony for hours. Luckily, the office has plenty of bug spray (and I packed my malaria meds).

But, the real surprise came tonight, as I was finishing up a meal in the hotel restaurant.

I don't know if this is a testament to what a small world it is, or if I've finally become a seasoned traveller, because I ran into someone I KNOW. As in, an old friend/co-worker whom I used to work closely with. And she was sitting at the table in the courtyard right in front of my room! She's been in East Timor for the past month, working on another project for my old company, but is leaving in a few days. I had heard she was here in July, so I just assumed that we missed each other, but there she was! I am truly psyched to see a friendly face. We're going to meet up later this week; she's going to be my entree into expat life here.

This is so random, I thought it deserved a blog-post. I mean, who travels across the world and runs into someone they KNOW?

And now I'm wondering...... who am I going to meet next?


Gaurav said...


Nice collection of travels.
Very interesting, feels like the traveeler is me while going trough the articles..

Keep it up..

~moe~ said...

You're like my mom who runs into people she knows every where she goes, whether she's been there before or not. Funny. Enjoy your travels!

andria said...

When I was at Versailles, my group ran into a family from South Dakota. They were so excited to see us, and we all immediately started to think of names of people who we might have in common. Sadly, no one could come up with anything, and then it became awkward.
So we took a picture of the three of them in front of the fountain.