The irony of big adventures like moving overseas is that sometimes they involve sacrificing everyday adventures. Dili is a pretty easy posting, there clearly aren’t the restrictive security measures faced in places like PNG or South Sudan or something, but day-to-day it sometimes starts to feel like a ritualistic suburban existence, even though it is supposed to be a big adventure.
In Jakarta, I could go around whenever I felt like it and do whatever I wanted at any time of day or night. Same as at home in Australia, or in Washington or London.
Here in Dili, my options are more limited for a number of reasons.
1. Transport – the taxis stop at night and its not safe to catch them alone… unless you call the expensive night taxi.
2. There’s usually not much on, especially during the week. Dili is pretty small.
3. After dark, especially during the week, the town is just dead quiet.
So its a combination of size and security (as well as the level of development… there’s not the mall-jamming middle class you have in Indonesia).
After work there’s only really enough daylight left to swing by the supermarket on the way home to grab a few things, and the taxis start jacking up their tariffs to the ‘night taxi’ level from around 6pm. Sometimes there’s dinners to go to or there’s the biweekly schedule of expat events like quiz or scrabble nights, but its pretty quiet.
The weekends are OK and the beach is (of course) very OK, but some days it really feels like I’ve just transplanted my Canberra life into a more balmy locale, which is strange sensation that makes me restless. Or maybe its just a sign that I’m better suited to life in big cities?
It’s especially strange when you contrast what people outside Timor think my life must be like. They think it is all this:
Sure, we had a week of that in the lead-up to the presidential elections and we will likely have a few more weeks of it in the lead-up to the votes in April and June, but it’s not like I’m spending my weekdays waving flags from the trays of dump trucks, nor even going to rallies, now that I’m not a journalist.