Day 14: Thursday, 11 Oct 12 – Dili
This morning the internet is so slow that my Hotmail account would not open….. I think it is time to just give up on the internet and wait until I get home. Up early this morning as we are going to walk down the road (a couple hundred metres) to check out a place called Arte Morris. I have had mixed reviews about the place. One person told us it is worth a look, however most have not rated it.
A number of us headed off and went to have a look. The Arte Morris is an Art School where students live on campus. There is an art gallery inside the campus, however in reality the whole campus is an art exhibition. The gardens are full of various types of art works. We even met a scout there. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the Arte Morris and would recommend it for visitors to Dili. It does not take long to view all the works, but it is worthwhile.
Back in Dili we are staying back at the Timor Lodge Hotel. The road out the front was being resealed when we arrived in country and I must admit that overall the road works have progressed very quickly. It is a good sign of the development that is currently happening in Timor Leste. However here is a warning to pedestrians: Zebra crossing are not obeyed by drivers and pedestrians do not have the right of way in practice.
A special thanks to Paul, who provided us a driver for the last two full days in Dili. It is one of the drivers that we had when in Maubisse, so he knew how crazy we are. We had a big day ahead. Last night we listed the sights and attractions that we wanted to see and do and then prioritised them. The first one on the list was the Tais Markets….. So I had thought…. I thought that that the driver had understood my instructions. Maybe a little naive considering we speak no language in common, so first stop was the Alola Foundation. Not to worry the Alola Foundation was on our list of places to go.
The Alola Foundation is a Timorese Foundation that does lots of good work in many areas to support the education and development of the Timorese people. They sell many hand made goods to raise funds for supporting their many great causes. Michela, who is an AYAD (Australian Youth Ambassador for Development) working with Scouts in the Timor Leste has been learning Tetum. Though only for two months, Michela’s Tetum was quite good. She was able to clearly communicate with the Driver for the rest of the day.
The next stop was the Tais Markets…. We all bought some lovely handmade souvenirs for family and friends back home. Though the Tais Markets is not a large place the Markets is full of many great gifts for people back home. Here is an amazing feel good story. One of the team left their iPhone at one of the stores and it was 40 mins before we realised and went back to see if we could find it. The amazing part is that the store keeper found the phone and placed it in a safe place. As soon as he saw the owner he pulled it out and returned the phone.
Before lunch we went to the ANZ Bank…… A major reference point for giving directions in Dili….. The queues were long so the team used the ATMs. Funny you know ANZ stands for Australia and New Zealand, but here we are in a third country getting United States Dollars from an ATM. It is amazing to see a globalised world at work. Around the corner form the bank we popped into the CCT Factory to buy Coffee for family and friends back home.
So now that we all have presents for the folks back home it is time for Lunch. We headed to “White Beach” or “Areia Branca” (the Portuguese name) it is also known by some as the UN Beach as many UN personnel go down to the beach on a regular basis. There is a lovely hotel called the Beachside Hotel. It is right on the beach and the food, though western, is very good. I have noticed that there is a difference in Dili since we have been in the highlands. There are US Marines everywhere. With a couple of warships off the coast the Marines were rotating through R&R in Dili.
While at lunch Michela got a call from her in country manager to advise that there is a function on at the Timor Hotel for International Girls Day. The First Lady launched the event in Dili on behalf of Plan International. The presentation about the plight of girls in Timor Leste was touching. We take so much for granted back in Australia. Even simple things like having toilets at school is not available at all schools in Timor Leste. This has big impacts on whether girls can go to school and then there are many more issues. The team tried to get a cool pink t-shirt from the day, however they were not successful. However they did get a picture with the First Lady…..
With the day now gone, the team headed back to the accommodation. On the way we stopped by the Leader Supermarket for more munchies and popped into the Timor Plaza to pick up the team T-Shirts. The T-Shirts turned out very well. I am looking forward to wearing them home.