A Travellerspoint blog

SOME DAYS ARE DIAMONDS AND SOME DAYS ARE JUST PLAIN STONE

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Immigration can always pose problems in any country you go to and I should not be surprised as to the lengths one has to go to to stay an extra month in a country, particularly enquiring at Flight Centre when I purchased my ticket about visas and again on arrival to ensure that procedures are fine to extend for another month Nothing is ever simple.

It has taken me all day to try and sort out my visa. Of course you can't just rock up to immigration and expect them to stamp an extra month as explained to me at the airport on arrival. No you have to spend two hours just trying to find somewhere that will photocopy your passport, then find somewhere where the internet is not down and on top of that have a printer to print off the application form to be able to extend the visa for another month. You then have to go from pillar to post as no-one really knows anything about where anythng is so I felt like I was in a duck shooting gallery and at the end of the day that is where I wished I was.

In Timor Leste you actually have to have someone to sponsor you here to extend an extra month, even just as a tourist, so then it was back over to the college (which is about a 40 minute drive with the way roads are). So at 3pm I get back to Immigration and the guy says to come back Monday. Did I do my block. They are just such an lazy bunch of ?????? I had a stand up confrontation with him and then he said I still didn't have a copy of the ID of the person that signed my extended visa application. I asked him to point out where it said on the form that that was a requirement. He said not to worry and come back Monday and just walked away. Can you imagine a country keeping someone's passport for two weeks to process a visa - not a passport just a frigin visa.

With that I started explaining to someone else the circumstances since this morning and started thumping the window where he pointed out all I need to do is download the form. With that security came out and he said to process the application. (Ithink I had that look) I paid for the visa and the guy just kept on looking down. I asked for my passport and he said it takes two weeks to process the visa and come back in two weeks for my passport. If Timor Leste is gong to get ahead it really needs to concentrate on getting visa issues streamlined. I mean to say how does someone who is in business who needs to be here for six weeks and then may need their passport to do a quick trip somwhere go with all the issues?

Other volunteers are fine that come in through an agency or others that fly in and out for four or five days to build a building but I am in a unique situation as from my experiences no-one would want to be here more than a month anyway as a tourist.

Tourism issues in study are quite significant in trying to get courses recognised. Colleges can't offer certain levels of tourism as there is no-one than completely translate requirements in English from Tetum and Portuguese to offer different certificate levels. I can see ET in the next 15 years starting to go ahead with tourism as although I haven't still ventured to some great spots, apart from Araturo Island. I believe there is a lot on offer.

When I paid my $100 (the visa is $35.00 now instead of $30) there wasn't ample change in the draw so one of the guys drew out his wallet and gave the rest in change out of it. Mmmmm.. great accounting.

Anyway I headed back to ETDA where I am writing a report in the hope that Palmira, the Director would help but she was not prepared to sign the form as my sponsor and she was quite surprised herself that everyoine staying longer than a month had to have the form signed.. I rang my Rotary contact and he said it must be a Timorese person who signs it although talking with the person who runs Timor Lodge when I finally got back said he could have signed it for me even though he is not Timorese. I don't understand the difference.

Well again no help from people you would think would help you. Actually talking to a few others here Rotary does not have a good reputation and from first hand experiences I can understand. Maybe that's why they started with about 40 are are down to just a few people attending of which there are no Timorese.

I have been speaking to a few people with the difficulties of immigration here in ET. It takes ten years of living here before someone can be considered for citizenship. Frankly I think it is great although maybe a bit too long and I'd like to see Miss Julia introduce that in Australia.

Thursday I had a workshop booked to try and get everyone thinking about a five year plan for ETDA. Being of latin background everythng happens on a needs basis . The info was sent out to everyone about the conference but when I got there yesterday there was already a conference being held and booked out for most of the day so I asked what was going on and the office manager said we willl have it Friday instead. Mmmmm.... but all the staff are not going to be here as most of them are heading off to another area for the day. Doesn't matter we will have it Monday. Ok Monday t is.

Being here as a volunteer in the true meaning of the word and not the other 'volunteers' who come over with an organisation and are paid airfares and fundamental costs is not easy and they at leastl have backing within the organisation. This experience has shown me not to do it again in this same capacity. I have been totally disappointed with organisations that I belong to or contacts of so called special friends that will "really look after you ".

So some of you may say well stop grumbling but these are the facts for anyone reading this. I have been asked by a few contacts of others wanting to come to Timor as volunteers how things are like.

On the brighter side I have had a few visits with the course doing the Dip of Tourism through ETDA where I am dong the report. Kerry who is the teacher from William Angliss asked if I wanted to tag along given the fact that I said I am doing the report and it would be great to see how the students are getting involved with local lndustry. We visited Megatours, Guidepost, and Padi Dive and it was good to see the interaction of the students with the managers.

The other brighter side is that I took out one of the teachers from Sao Miguel College and two students for lunch to practice English today. So yep what a week and an early night.

Posted by prayer49 01:36 Archived in East Timor

It feels like Christmas

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As I previously said in a blog my friends David and Janelle gave me $100.00 to spend accordingly as to the best benefit that I could derive from the expenditure. I had a ball at the Timor Plaza buying text books. I went to the $2 shop where I bought headbands, mirrors, bags, pens, pencils combs, thongs, plates and forks so that every girl could have their own fork to eat with if they wished to use it of a night. From there I went to Leader which is the big supermarket and bought three big containers of lollies. The value in $100 was huge and being the asstute shopper that I am the value was incredible. I then struggled back to my room and then again down to a taxi armed with about 12 shopping bags (including 51 text books). Nice the guys passed and said good evening without offering to help but that is life. For those that do weights I do 50 kgs pull down in weights and I weigh 58 kgs but I had to stop four times till I got to the taxi with the weight I was carrying.

What was most incredible was the fun that we had that night in a class using these items in an English class to discuss nouns. I felt like father Christmas thanks to David and Janelle. Unfortunately the electricity had died a few hours before and still wasn't on at 7pm where we had to light a candle to try and see but it was good to go back to the girl's room later and see them looking through the exercise books. We all had dinner together and then I went in convoy back to Timor Lodge given that it isn't safe to be out after 9pm and apart from that it is difficult to get a taxi after that time as I have been told.

Posted by prayer49 01:30 Archived in East Timor

MOVING FORWARD

What have you achieved today?

sunny

If you were to pick up a pen and a piece of paper as opposed to sitting in front of a computer what would you write on your piece of paper as to what you thought you had achieved today? I am being quite serious here and I challenge each of you who are reading my blog to get a piece of paper and write down what it is that you think you have achieved today.......?

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter as long as you have brought a smile to someone else in their life and I think that is one of the biggest achievements that you can bring. It has been hard for me with my journey and having been in the military for 25 years that the big focus achievements aren't as meaningful. The sometimes not so significant achievements are probably more significant in the end. To backtrack, before I start the story of moving forward, when I arrived at Artaro Island yesterday I visited some local markets. A little boy of about eight years age kept of following me around the markets and not asking for anything but just being by my side. After half an hour I bought a packet of sweet biscuits and gave them to him and his smile was so huge a real sense of satisfaction came over me. How simple is it to bring a smile to these children here and they so appreciate anything. If you gave a packet of biscuits to our Australian children what would be their reaction?

Anyway I digress.

Long story short I start with the East Timor Development Agency tomorrow (Monday) writing a report about the last five years of achievements. It is now a requirement for NGO's to provide a report to goverment in the wake of the elections. I am looking really forward to the challenge of this and working with the enthusiastic people at the agency.

After workling out the way ahead with ETDA I set out to try and find the girl who I am sponsoring here in Dili at the Institute of Religious Sciences Long story short five taxi rides and two and a half hours later I arrived there and asked for Gloria De Jesus and she presented herself as the person I was after, from the village that she supposedly lived in and knowing the people in Gerringong who had let me know about her plight, that she was actually Gloria. I said to her she doesn't look like Gloria or have the same bearing as Gloria from the photos and she doesn't speak English very well as to what my understanding of Gloria's English level is. After about an hour she said she thought it maybe her cousin I was after. I tracked down a priest who said that the girls finish of a lunch time on Friday and that maybe this Gloria (who no-one appears to have heard about at the College) may have returned to her village but maybe come back next week.

So onto the Timor Hotel to catch up with Namai for a Friday afternoon drink and then back to my accommodation for an early night and ready to go to Araturo Island the next day.

It was a great trip over there and it was great going over in Robert's boat. I was originally going over on the ferry having finally tracked down where to buy my ticket on the Friday afternoon that costs $5.00. It is not obvious where the tickets are sold but it is in the blue building of the Dili Port on the ground floor turn right at the first corridor and a small office just at the end on the right hand side. So they did open at 2pm after all. The ferry apparently leaves at 8am. The tickets also go on sale on the Saturday but I didn't want to have to line up at 5am to secure a ticket. Anyway the trip with Robert was great and muchly appreciated as he didn't charge me. The trip started well on top of that as Naimi came through and picked me up and dropped me off with a big bag of clothing for people on the island as well as contributions from a great guy from Toll who gave me a box of stuff to give to the children on the island.

It is hard to believe so many pilots fly in and out and are just not concerned about the issues that confront the East Timorese but they are just concerned for their lives and I can't generalise too much but one of their partners who has been coming here now for three years and not thought about bringing anything for the children and just so oblivious to the plight of the East Timorese. Oh well I suppose they won't have to worry so much at the end of the year about work in East Timor.

Barry's on the island is fantastic They are limited in accommodation so make sure you book (723 6084). All meals are included and the meals are fantastic. As a person who loves their vegies there was a real array of everything. I just loved the spices and the chili salsa dish is to die for. It is a real family enviroment and the accommodation is largely run by Barry's wife Lena because Barry is mostly a Palms volunteer. They have the most cutest twin sons although the photo doesn't do them justice. There are other things to do as well. I borrowed one of their bikes and went for a bike ride in each direction and on the west direction ended up in church. A group of others went out snorkelling around the island for only $10 each and that included lunch. Accommodation varies from $30 for a tent under a shelter, $40 for my bungalow, $70 for a queen and single bed to $105 for a bungalow suitable to sleep six but with anymore than three paying extra. No ensuites with the toilet and bathing block centrally located. And there is also all day tea and coffee provided. Can't give this place a good enough pitch.

Well here's to another day tomorrow.

Posted by prayer49 03:32 Archived in East Timor

AN ECELECTIC TWO DAYS

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It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m sitting in my room just having returned from having lunch down on the waterfront with one of my Rotary colleagues. I mentioned Marie in a previous entry as she provided a presentation at my first rotary meeting on International Woman’s Day. Marie is very much into meditation so overall it was an interesting conversation talking about both our aspirations. I had a bit of a blonde day as I was actually sitting and waiting in the wrong restaurant but that is fine as the one where we were supposed to meet at was across the road. It was interesting about listening to her possible future plans of building a couple of small residences on their property near Tamborine Mountain. Having lived in Canungra for almost three years I could quite easily relate to the area.

So here I sit looking at my big red Disney bag that my clothes are taken and washed and returned for the day, listening to Elvis Presley in the background (wooden heart) thinking how fortunate I am to be meeting so many different people and enjoying the time away from Jamberoo.

The journey to-date has not gone as expected but there again I don’t think that is possible in a latin based country. Last week there were no English classes due to exams and elections but I was told classes started back yesterday. When I went to the college ready to teach again yesterday I was informed that exams and preparations were continuing again this week and from there the school holidays start.

..................................................... deep breath............................deep breath.

I felt a bit divided about things sf(x)=a_0+∑_(n=1)^∞▒(a_n cos⁡〖nπx/L〗+b_n sin⁡〖nπx/L〗 ) but it doesn’t take me long to still appreciate this opportunity to really experience life as it really is here.

It is obvious that individuals don’t realise the cost and implications of coming away for two months with a certain objective in mind. Anyway there is a group of girls that live in at the school ranging in age from 12 to 18 so I have three hours with them today and tomorrow to practice English. I phoned my rotary colleague here who I was going to start with the following week to see if I could start earlier with him, doing anything. I am quite happy to even help unload the containers coming in for rotary projects having my fork lift driver’s licence. I managed to convince my boss prior to discharging from the ARA that having a forklift driver’s licence would hold me in good stead at some stage in my future (you should have seen the look on his face but he signed the paperwork anyway). I also rang my other contact, who runs English courses, to see if I could help her given that I can also do powerpoint presentations or update any info that is required. I am waiting to hear.

On the bright side I can’t complain about the social side. Last night I was invited to drinks aboard one of the most beautiful vessels I have been in. John and Tracey are taking it back to the Gold Coast for the owners. They have been sailing the seas for about the last 30 years and were with another couple from Broome who have travelled with them previously. It was such a short few hours without getting into many of their adventures but what a life. Rob runs a number of businesses here in East Timor and he helped them out with a refuelling issue so it was great to join in on the invitation.

From there it was off to a Portuguese restaurant to meet Naimi (a UN volunteer from the UK) and Miguel (who is an Airforce Officer from Portugal). Naimi and I hit it off as if we had known each other for years. The company, food and wine were fantastic.

The teaching at the College tonight was great and yet with some sadness. I took along some party hats that we had used to celebrate our 107th birthday at rotary and used them as a tool in which to teach. Angela from the Club suggested that I take them over to Dili as no doubt they would be appreciated somewhere along the line (great idea Angela). The girls enjoyed the change of teaching tact but in the process I started talking about breakfast and having them repeat back when they ate breakfast. The teacher informed me that the girls don't get breakfast and they have to wait for lunch. I just felt so upset at looking at all their little faces to think they don't get breakfast and then only rice for lunch. Classes are long lasting two hours so we started at 6pm and finished at 8pm. Some of the girls there don't have parents while others are too far from their families to commute on a daily basis and only return home during school holidays.

From there it was onto join them for dinner. Dinner was again based around rice with a chicken curry and chips. Vegetables don't figure too much in their diet. I spoke to Crisna, the Director, as to why they don't eat breakfast. The girls are up at 4am, they get dressed and study for another hour and then they go to church and return in time for the 730am assembly before they commence classes between 8am and 830am. Naturally I couldn't relate to this attitude of kids not having breakfast and expecting them to put in such a morning. I think most people realise the repercussion that children have in terms of lack of concentration and brain development with such a lack of food. A family friend in New Zealand runs a program to ensure children are fed breakfast at school as part of Kiwanis program recognising it. There are no forks in the dining room with the girls only using spoons and some plates needing replacing. I think I know where that $100 donation from my friends will be going. Generally it's 9pm and lights out for the girls ready for their 4am wake up call.

It was such a delight to teach this class tonight and I am looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow night.

Posted by prayer49 06:51 Archived in East Timor

EXPLORING DAYS

sunny

Election Day in Dili and it will be interesting to see what happens given the hype leading up to them. I decide to head out of town to try and see something different and was advised to go to a town further down the road called Ligashai. Due to elections the micros weren’t running but being desperate to see something different I decided to taxi it. One taxi and discussion about costs, second taxi and discussion with costs and I felt comfortable with the third driver who coincidently turns out to be the cousin of one of the teacher’s from the College were I am teaching. It was a real bonus as well as he spoke Portuguese.

It was a very slow journey which was supposed to take 30 minutes and $20 one way but it ended up taking an hour due to the abyssmal conditions of the road and trees that had fallen across the roads. Not long into the drive Dinnis said he would take me back once we arrived to our destination for another $20. I could have beaten him down in price knowing he had to go back anyway but he seemed so nice I thought the extra few dollars would help out. It was an interesting journey there passing different voting places. I couldn’t help but reflect looking at footage on the violence with the first elections in East Timor. May marks 10 years of Independence and it looks like the Army and the UN will be pulling out at the end of the year. I don’t know what the locals are going to do in terms of petrol sales as just about every fourth vehicle is a UN vehicle. Petrol here is $1.20USD a litre so quite expensive when you consider some people work for as low as $7 per day.

I ended up having coffee in Ligashai and Dinnis drove me around a bit and then we headed back. When I got back to the lodge I met a guy in the Army who was looking at discharging under the Compulsory Retirement Age 47; which is what I was discharged under. He had not been able to find much info on this so I was able to fill him in quite comprehensively as to what I went through. He has been posted here for the last couple of months so it was also good to get a few ideas on where I should go.

Well after a quiet night Friday night things really were quite different Saturday night and I ended up back at the bar sharing a few wines with an interesting group from different walks of life including a fellow Rotarian I had met the first rotary meeting that I went to.

Up nice and early this morning (Sunday) as I wanted to go for a long walk to the Jesus statue known as Cristo Rei. I again negotiated the price for $3 but half way there the driver said he wanted $5 to go there and pulled over. I ended up giving him $2 and got out of the taxi and walked the rest of the way. It took about an hour and a terrific morning for walking passing interesting food markets which were a lot better quality than those for sale on the local markets near Timor Lodge. The air was clearer today and little cloud.

I stopped at a few places during the walk to try and get further information on tripping around and one stop was the Dili Hotel –
(+670) 3313958 reservation@hoteldili.com. Gino Favaro provided me with a complimentary coffee and a contact for the ferries that go to Araturo Island (Glen 7935051). Apparently Glen charges $30 one way and here is a quicker boat that goes for $45 so it really depends on how flexibile you are. There is also the larger ferry that departs at 0800h on the Saturday is $5 with the ticket sales commencing 0500hr to 1000hr and then again from 1400hr to 1700hr on the Friday. Barry’s Accommodation has been suggested for the island on 7236084 and he gets booked out so advisable to book.

The remainder of the walk was good and I stopped at the Kaz Bar for a much earned cold beer and then onto Hotel California for lunch. A necessary stop was required at the supermarket to stock up on basics and then finally back to the lodge for a swim (first two laps I have swum this season - my sister would be proud of me) and a lazy afternoon catching up with correspondence and studying Tetum.

It looks like it will take another week for the final count for the elections but at this stage they are down to four main candidates.

Posted by prayer49 00:22 Archived in East Timor

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