Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Packing is fun.

I don't really like packing at the best of times. Fortunately my boss, bless his cotton socks, told me to take the rest of the afternoon off after I handed in a pretty good piece of work earlier than either of us expected. I can take 20kg of check in luggage and another 7kg of hand luggage and I'm told they are pretty strict about it. As it happens, I'm packing about 41kg of check in, so I can take a good UPS, a printer and a coffee maker to Dili. My son Three Strokes contentedly remarked that I'm a nerd.

So I'm nearly packed (just the laptop and a first aid kit to go), and I'm about as ready as Ethelred to face the new scene. I have a list of contacts, there's a family friend or two and I'll be staying virtually on the dance floor of one of Dili's live venues-cum-sports bars. That will presumably be OK while I'm alone, but I can't imagine Just Add Water taking to it too readily.

Time to tie up all the loose ends and head on out to the unknown.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Counting the sleeps

Less than a week to go now, and it's all starting to get a little too much. There is so much to do and so many people to see that I just can't see myself getting over there without a lot of really last minute disorganisation. It was probably a mistake to agree to work fulltime up until the very day before the morning that I'm going to leave, but I feel I owe it to my current employer, who has been generous in offering me leave without pay for a year.

Last night we had a lot of folks over, allegedly for a whisky tasting, but really to see them all one last time before I go. My new decoration was a topic of some discussion, a fair deal of disbelief and certainly not unstinting approval. Just Add Water overcatered as usual, and did a brilliant job as usual, and everyone had a fantastic time as usual and she has completely collapsed today as usual.

I'm really falling behind in my intentions to study the language(s). Tonight, I'll make a fresh start on my Indonesian program and work harder on the Tetum dictionary. It'd be nice to have an actual speaker to get a lesson from, but next week I suppose they will be rather readily available. Last family dinner tonight, and last dinner with the outlaws tomorrow night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting ready to go.

I’m excited, to quote Big Kev. The clock is ticking down and I’ll soon be winging my way to Timor Leste to take up a position with one of the ministries there. I’ve made accommodation arrangements, flight arrangements and initial living arrangements. Despite our previous time in the Solomons, however, this is really an adventure.

I flatter my self that I know a bit more about living in developing nations, a bit more about capacity development and a bit more about cross-cultural sensitivity than I did before. How this will translate to the Timorese context, I have no real idea.

What am I looking forward to? The chance to roll up my sleeves and get involved again, to really look around the faces of my workmates and realise I’m making a difference. It’s the cooperation of the atmosphere that is so rewarding. To be frank, I also like the idea of living new a new country. It’s not a case of whether it will live up to my expectations, it’s a case of learning about the people and the place so that I can actually have expectations.

You can never know a whole country, not even if it’s a small one like Nauru. Timor is huge by comparison and I’m sure my workload will be large enough to keep me busy, too busy to engage as much as I’d like.

But I have my Tetum language book and my learn-to-speak-Indonesian software, and I’ll be hitting the streets with the bare and basic minima of politeness and getting-around words. I think I’ll have to put learning Portuguese on the backburner for the time being, however.