Tuesday, 10 April 2007

My Election Day

Didn’t that go well? What a great day.
It’s been much better described than I ever could have here, here and here.
But I’m going to add my bit anyway.
Up yesterday at 0500 to be on the roof of the Hotel Timor at 0600 for live 2-way with the studio in Sydney. That was done and dusted by 0615. Then off to Aria Branca to get the pictures of JRH voting. I think at one stage there were more press there than voters. It was a very nice typically friendly East Timorese atmosphere. People had dressed up to come and vote, the officials were still trying to open the ink bottles at 0715 and JRH turned up a bit late. Didn’t matter though, because the polling station didn’t open on time anyway. JRH was very democratic and got in the queue with the rest of the plebs. During which time he was interviewed by every press person there and few interested observers too. Once there were no more press to be interviewed by, the PM was ushered to the front where he duly voted. He didn’t let on who he was voting for though. But he did say that he had a slightly upset stomach from something he had eaten the night before. I’ll try and find out where that was and make a note to avoid the place.
So, Ramos done, inky finger videoed, photographed, described in detail and licked we headed off to Farol to get ‘Lu’olo’ done. Much bigger crowds here, which was to be expected. Very nice pictures too, lots of long shadow’s, kretek smoke rising in the slanted morning light, lots of old people with interesting faces (great TV) and the man himself arriving to vote. And we got a photo-op bonus. As well as the man we got his wife (future first lady?) and Dr. Mari Alkatiri. A quick photo-op at the gate and the great men were taken immediately to the front. No queueing for them. Bit of a press scrum at the door to the polling room, lots of pushing, shoving and swearing but the job got done, more inky finger pics and off we went. The time was now around 0845 and I still hadn’t had one coffee having woke up with only two ciggies and had to bludge LA’s all morning.
So, Hotel Timor it was then, for 4 cups of one of the best Espressos in Dili, real cigarettes and pretend sausage rolls. After being victualled we went to the polling station on Comoro road opposite the Timor Lodge. Some nice pictures but very samey as the previous ones, and to be honest, we thought that if there was going to be any trouble in Dili it may have been between the people staying at the airport IDP camp, walking to the polls, and the scrotes that have been stoning them for the past 10 months. God, and who ever said TV news is cynical?
Then it was a drive to Metinaro. There were two reasons we went there. One was that it would be good to have a location other than Dili to report on (and Los Palos being a bit logistically not an option if you only have 2 hours) and also because I had received an SMS that there may have been some trouble out there. A third reason for me was the absolutely fantastic music CD I had made the previous night. A reason not shared by the other occupants of the car. I think they were too old to appreciate my music. Nothing wrong with a bit of Leonard Cohen and Eric Burdon on a nice drive.
Metinaro was great. Very peaceful, loads of “Bon Dia’s” and “Hello Misters” and everyone smiling and dressed up. After that it was back to Dili, pick up a tape on the way and transmist all the stuff we had filmed back to Sydney via the roof of the Hotel Timor. A chance for more Espressos, fags and general gossiping.
The afternoon was basically spent mooning around a bit, waiting till 1600 for the polls to close and trying to second guess the election result. Back down to the Comoro road polling at 1600 to film the close. I loved it. So Timor Leste. People still voted at 1615, a couple of election monitors looking on, then all the signatures of the election officials were taken to say they witnessed the opening and closing of the day and then the seals on the boxes cut, ballots strewn over 4 tables and the counting started. Just the final pictures we were looking for. A quick drive to Hotel Timor, the cameraman editing in the final pics on the back seat, reminded me of old times in other places. Quite a buzz. Pictures sent, day over.
Now I just want to say, hopefully without sounding too patronizing, that I was SO proud of my adopted country yesterday. From what I witnessed, and I know it was only a small proportion, the election day went off in a spirit that on the whole I think truly reflects the Timorese. Most people here don’t want the gang fights we have had in the recent past, they don’t want the stand-over crap when they own a small food stall, they don’t want their army and their police force fighting each other. The just want to have a decent life.
OK, liberal, hairy-armed, tree-hugging pinko crap over with.
Anyway, that was my election day. I hope yours was as peaceful, fun and good-natured as mine………

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