Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leaving Timor

Farewells are never easy, no matter how much practice I've had over the nearly eight years that I have lived outside the United States. Saying goodbye to friends and colleagues is always difficult and I always leave with the hope that I'll see many of them again.

Surprisingly, that has happened a number of times. It makes the world feel smaller. For instance, colleagues I'd worked with in Mongolia -- turned up here in Timor-Leste. Friends I knew in Tajikistan turned up in Dili. Strange, exciting world. The internet, too, makes the world seem smaller -- chatting with friends on Facebook or Skype. It's easier to follow the lives of friends, family and co-workers.

I will leave Timor-Leste in a few days and I will leave with having made a lot of friends. Friends and colleagues that I will miss. Facebook will help keep us connected -- and I'm sure I'll cross paths again with a few of them. Things like Facebook make goodbyes a little bit easier.

For me, Timor was a great challenge -- personally and professionally.  The extreme heat kept me indoors a lot, and while I swam and snorkeled -- there wasn't much else to do. So, I wound up working -- a lot. It is too easy to get lost in your work here.  Professionally, I had a great staff and yes, work was frustrating, but it was also quite rewarding. In many ways, unlike my work in the former Soviet republics, it is possible to get a lot of work done here without the government breathing down your neck. As I often describe it -- Timor was a breath of fresh air -- more often than not -- hot and humid air with almost no breeze.

So, off I go to the land of cold and snow. For a little while, at least, I won't miss the "forever sunshine."

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