Bondia (Good morning)

DiliTimor Leste

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Atauro sits hazy across the bay, thinly veiled by a gauze curtain of mist. The blueness of the water grows steadily darker as the sun climbs, silvery and subtle to the perfect blue in primary school paint pots.

Weather-worn men walk along the coast wall, lugging shiny, still slippery fish tied to makeshift yokes of sticks, salt water dripping on tattered shorts.

Some set up makeshift shops, tying fish and squid on to the branches of shady trees in clumps and clusters, some high, some low enough to give a passing cyclist a fishy slap— hanging sculptural art that will be the coming night’s dinner.

The cars and motorbikes curve round the Beach Road, slipping in between each other, veering around pottering yellow taxis, slowing and speeding up, some rushing to work, others just wandering there.

A kid rides no hands to school past the church, balancing and steering the bike with body weight alone, reclining on the seat as if he is being chauffeured by divine intervention. How can you use hands to steer when you need one to grab on to the back wheel as a brake, and another to wave to the people you pass?

Police direct traffic at the busy corners simply by sitting there and watching with self-importance, as if the town exists in such a delicate balance that their telepathic hand signals are the only thing stopping 10-car pile-ups outside Hotel Timor.

A truck grumbles into action by the port, lurching forward and executing each gear change with a dramatic pause in motion, turning into the traffic with no indicators, relying on that petrol of telepathy and faith.

Mist rolls off the hills fringing the town as the sun warms them. Across the bay, Jesus stands with his arms open wide, praising another day in a town where even small successes often seem like miracles.

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