Friday, 31 August 2007

Bathtime Blues

Last night I was sitting peacefully in the bath, minding my own business when my wife, Mrs. Sod, came in and sank all my boats.

I thought that was very immature.


Thursday, 30 August 2007

Shattered Dreams

Well, I suppose it finally had to happen. After more than a year of driving around Dili and most of the rest of East Timor, often seeking out the trouble spots and deliberately driving into the middle of them I have joined the club. Last night, returning from a favourite thinking spot with two, yes two tourists my windscreen was hit by what has been described in some Security Tree announcements as a ‘High Velocity Projectile’; otherwise known as a rock.
Now I have been rocked before, about six times I think, but those times the HVP either hit the doors or didn’t smash a window. Last night the buggers finally got me. It was about 10.30ish and I was driving along the Comoro road heading east. Just as I got to a certain political party headquarters, between the new Comoro market and the Aussie embassy there was a loud bang and suddenly my windscreen looked a bit like a spider’s web.
Thankfully no-one was hurt, that would have been ironic eh? Just as tourists are starting to trickle back here, putting real dollars into real Timorese hands and not some glorified consultants back pocket a bloody tourist gets clobbered. I can hear the announcements on Strine TV news now: “In a holiday tragedy in strife torn East Timor……etc. etc.
Still, as I say, no-one was hurt, it could have been a lot worse. And at least Dili has an ample stockpile of Hi-Lux windows at the moment. And why should my car look any different than anyone else’s? I reckon people were starting to think I was a bit stuck-up because I didn’t have any sheets of clear plastic taped somewhere on the car. Now I can blend in.

Oh, and check out the new posts on ETJ.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Whole Tooth and Nothing But

This is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the incorrigible.
On Friday morning of last week two of my chums, we’ll call ‘em Bill and Ben, kindly took me to the f-FDTL barracks at Metinaro for some dental work. After receiving my treatment one of the chums took me over to see the salt-water crocs the army have in an enclosure. As we approached in our distinctive coloured shirts the big male (see picture) slithered out of his pond, rushed over to the flimsy wire fence, growled, opened his absolutely bloody huge mouth and rested his lower jaw on the fence. Bill, who had his car key in his hand, reached through the wire and extracted a loose tooth (see picture) that was half hanging out. The croc gave a satisfied sigh, closed his mouth and slithered back into his pond. I think Bill must have been having a bit of a Zen moment, because he looked down at the tooth and said “bloody hell, did I just do what I think I just did?”
He truly bloody did. I saw him.

Croc tooth (left) and dog tooth

One of the chums (Bill, left) and croc.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Spot The Difference

A tasty chart pie made by Mrs. Sod and a tasteful pie chart made by ETJ

See, it’s not just pie in the sky, you can have your cake and eat it.


Monday, 20 August 2007

Glock Watching

This is a broadcast of the UN Police in Timor-Leste to provide you with information about the security situation around the country.
The security situation in Timor-Leste is still tense.
United Nations police officers (UNPol) in conjunction with the national police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) remain fully deployed to respond to any disturbances that may occur.
Early this morning in Dili, a security guard was shot in the leg whilst on duty in Delta-2. The facts are still being established, but it is believed that the house he was guarding was being attacked by unknown assailants at around 0150hrs and that, to scare off the assailants, the resident of the house fired a warning shot which ricocheted off the ground and struck the security guard. UNPol have taken the victim to Dili hospital. Police are investigating.

It’s not fair. I thought we were not allowed to have guns. If he’s got a gun I want a gun. A big one. The biggest. It says the gunperson is a resident. I got my residents visa last month, am I entitled to a gun? Anyone know where I can get one? A big one?

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Time Is Relative

Overheard on my verrandah this week (twice!)

Q: "What time is it?"

A: "What, now?"


A Weekend Break

I’ve just spent a couple of days (Saturday and Sunday) in Bacau working for SBS television news, the thinking Australian’s channel of choice (so very small viewing figures there).
I think the accepted cliché for Bacau would have been “quiet but tense’. After an uneventful 2 hour and 14 minute trip (no traffic) we entered a very subdued town. There were Fretilin flags everywhere and the market had only about half the normal number of vendors.
We went upto the UN offices where an NGO were ‘re-locating’ to safer premises at the airport. We also had a bit of a trawl around town, filming the burnt out CRS compound, a destroyed kindergarten and quite a few other destroyed buildings. We were told by UN security that it was too dangerous to travel onto Vicqueque so we went back to the hotel, edited the piece and sent it via satellite from there. We had to order our dinner before 7pm as the staff was all going home as they were too afraid to stay overnight. I was given the keys to the hotel and so we settled down for the night. We didn’t feel at all apprehensive as we had 12 Bangladeshi police, with APC, guarding the hotel overnight.
Up early Sunday morning and off to film Mass at the local church. The main thing I noticed about the church ceremony was that the congregation consisted almost entirely of women, I would say around 97pct.
A few of the flags had been taken down and the atmosphere was a lot more ‘normal’ than the previous day. We went around town, filming here and there and then set off back to Dili. As we drove through the Metinaro IDP camp we were a bit more alert than usual as there had been reports of cars being stoned here. As it happened, most of the people in the camp waved at us, “hello Mr.’ red” us and saw us on our way. We shouldn’t have been so complacent though, as about 5km’s outside of the camp we got rocked! No injuries, slight damage to the car, although if you knew my car you would be hard put to spot the rock marks amidst all the other dents and scratch’s.
Once back in Dili, we edited the piece, sent it off and parked off for the rest of the day.
On Monday we got an interview with Dr. Mari Alkatiri who told us, among other things, that Fretilin would not be boycotting parliament and that they (the Party) strongly condemned any and all violence occurring in their name. Immediately after we had an interview with H.E. JRH who basically said the same thing. This was straight after a meeting between JRH, MA and the SRSG.
There was a few reports on Monday of rock throwing and fighting at the airport, so I was backwards and forwards between there and the town a few times, but it was all very low key compared to the past.
Right now things are very quiet in Dili. Its Assumption day today (whatever that is) so a lot of people will have the day off and I would imagine the day will carry on in this quiet way.
Let’s hope so.


Thursday, 9 August 2007

Burning Issues

Well, for a while there it looked like ‘Here we go again’ but so far, touch wood, today has been relatively quiet. Monday Tuesday and Wednesday were quite interesting but it still had the feel of ‘same old, same old’. The boys were out and about in town, burning tyres, throwing stones and firing arrows. By now most of us know which areas to avoid and when to keep our heads down. They did manage to burn down the customs building but I have yet to meet anyone who actually thinks that was a bad thing. Tax office and Timor Telecom next?
The UNPol’s and the ISF, in my humble opinion, have been doing a sterling job containing any trouble in Dili but things have been a bit hotter in Bacau and Viqueque with reports of burnings, injuries and mass arrests. Not unexpected as those areas are Fretilin strongholds, and, as we all know, the chaps are quite miffed at not being able to form a government despite the fact they did get more votes than any other party but did not win enough seats to actually form a viable government.
Our revered former Interior Minister, Rogerio Lobato, as I write, is still on a ‘plane on the runway at Dili airport and is refusing to get off. He is supposed to be going to Malaysia because of a heart condition that needs treatment. We were betting on prostate trouble, but what the heck, the heart comes a good second. (Shades of Mobuto and Pinochet there?) Our President, H.E. JRH, has seen the medical reports and agrees that he should leave the country for treatment but Lobato’s cousin, Lucia, the new Minister of Justice, has decided that justice must be seen to be done. For those of you with short memories Mr. Rogerio Lobato was sentenced to 7-1/2 years in jail for his part in last years ‘crisis’.
There may be a bit more mayhem on the streets today as I understand the UN are going to condemn Fretilin for not doing enough to quell the events of recent days. So, a few disgruntled scrotes might decide to show their unhappiness. I will try and keep you posted on events as I know I have been a bit lax recently, but, to be honest, not much happened out of the ordinary (what the hell is ordinary here?) over the past couple of months, apart from the elections of course, but I felt East Timor Journal’ and ‘Dili-gence’ portrayed those events far better than I ever could.
As I write, a small jet has just taken off from the airport. Don't know who, if anyone, is on board.


Wednesday, 8 August 2007

SMS News

Sec Tree 1725 – Fighting going on in Tasi Tolu ivo bus port.
Sec Tree 1743 – Stone throwing on Comoro rd ivo Comoro Markets.
Sec Tree 1930 – UN/BC There is a disturbance opposite “Alola” foundation in Mercado Lama area and close to soccer field in Kemea area.
Sec tree 1934 – UN/BC Disturbance near Mercado Lama (ivo Dili stadium roundabout) avoid area
Sec Tree 1958 – Cars being stoned on Comoro Rd between Aust Emb and Lanmark Plaza.
Sec Tree 2000 – UN/BC Disturbance opposite Australian Embassy in Fatuhada area (ROAD-3) and close to UNMIT Transport Compound. Balide area (ROAD-11). Avoid the areas
Sec tree 2110 – Disturbance on Banana Road ivo Hong Kong restaurant (ivo Bario Pite intersection)
Sec Tree 2205 – Disturbance in Balide. Reports of gunshots being heard in the area.

SMS News

Sec Tree 0750 – Fighting and stone throwing at Airport roundabout. Disturbance in Bebonuk ivo Primary school.
Sec Tree 0755 – UN/BC there are disturbances in Bebonuk, Airport, Comoro Rd and Pantai Kelapa. All staff are advised to avoid these areas.
Sec Tree 0945 – Illegal roadblock reported in Audian ivo pharmacy.
1000. From NZ embassy. Disturbances in Dili and districts may continue over next days. Maintain a high level of personal security and avoid unnecessary travel in and outside Dili.
Sec Tree 1035 – Cars are continuing to be stoned on Pantai Kelapa Rd between Pertamina fuel and Comoro Rd. Avoid this route.
Sec Tree 1125 – Groups gathering on Beach Rd in Bisau Lecidere ivo IDP camp (near World Bank). Unpol on scene. Avoid area.
Sec Tree 1148 – Cars being stoned ivo ANZ bank.
Sec Tree 1153 – UN/BC Stone throwing on Comoro Rd ivo Landmark Plaza and Comoro market.