So I’m settling into my place in Dili, what can be best described as a hotel room, nothing more, nothing less.
I’ve managed to buy internet access from the man who lives in the complex for a whopping $75 a month (which, to my surprise, has come down in price substantially since the days that internet access first arrived in Timor-Leste – $1000 a month in those days!). But what I have now is about as good as it gets in Timor-Leste.
I have to admit, I was REALLY freaked out upon arrival. As far as capital cities go, Dili is pretty scruffy. Really scruffy. As in, chickens and goats are not out of place on my walk to work. And my room is pretty decent for the price – I’m not one to share all of what I’m paying, but suffice to say I’m paying far less for my apartment in Providence next year. Dili has an extremely captured audience of ex-pat development workers, so while most places in the (extremely, or even semi-) developing world are fairly cheap as far as living goes, Dili is not. Because I don’t have a kitchen or anything, I may need to befriend someone who does, or else get very used to finding cheap places to eat.
So I arrived at the modest Nicolau Lobato International Airport after spending three hot and drizzly days in Bali (my beach dreams were a bust). A driver from USAID was there to pick me up, and he took me to my new nest for the next two months. I’ll admit, I was a a little hesitant. It’s small, but it’s clean, and I have the internet, so I don’t have to pay exorbitant amounts to update from an internet cafe when I can pay a rather exorbitant amount to update from the privacy of my room! And after three months in homestays with IHP, which were all wonderful, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to have my own room and not worry about bothering other people.
So I’ll update more about work when I have a better idea, but I can share my little experience from this morning. One of my coworkers showed up to orient me around the town a little when I arrived yesterday, and he showed me the building where I’d be. Twice. So I thought I wouldn’t have a problem finding it again.
I thought wrong.
I gave myself what I had considered to be ample time to make it to work this morning, thinking I knew the way. I got very, very lost. All I knew was the inscription on the building “Delegacia de Saude,” which I had understood to be a branch of the Ministry of Health. So I went all around town, walking, for almost down hours, asking and looking for the Ministry of Health. The main building, as it turns out, is not the same building where I will be. Not at all. So I ask for directions to my building (thankfully, a kind receptionist at the MoH knew where I wanted to go) and hopped in a cab, thinking I was late enough for work already.
Walking to work though, I started to gain just a little deeper understanding of international involvement in Timor-Leste. Signs on cars depict a who’s who of the development community – UN, UN Development Programme, UNIFEM, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration, World Vision (whose office I popped into to try and misguidedly get directions to the Ministry of Health from this morning), USAID (the branch I’ll be working with), and so many more that I can’t even keep straight or remember right now.
Also, as a side note, Timor-Leste is supposed to be wonderful for diving and I am considering getting scuba certified, as something productive and fun to do on the weekends, besides just ruining my skin at the beach. Thoughts on this matter are welcome.
So I will update soon, now that I have internet access! Maybe I’ll try and get some pictures!