Friday, June 18, 2010


I had the pleasure of joining a dozen colleagues on board the Vega to watch the sunset last evening. The sailing ship, built in Norway in 1893, is a beauty -- as you can see. The mast is actually older than Vega. It was taken from another sailing ship when Vega was constructed more than 100 years ago. Vega's currently anchored in Dili harbor.
Captain Shane Granger says his mission over the next two weeks or so is to provide humanitarian assistance to Timorese people -- in the form of medical and educational supplies.
The ship is 85 feet long and has three suites. Its cruising speed is 6 to 8 knots.
For more than a 100 years, Vega ferried cargoes of bricks, building stone, iron and cement.Hans Peter Christophersen, the head of mission at the Norwegian Embassy, presented Captain Granger and his partner Meggi Macoun with official Norway caps. Granger says his dream is to obtain Norwegian registry for his vessel.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Romain Gary aka Emile Ajar

I'm reading Promise at Dawn and it just might be the most beautiful book I've ever read. I don't write these words lightly.

The book, which is autobiographical, is a love story between Gary and his mother -- and yet so much more -- philosophy, adventure, self-discovery and lots of humor.

Romain Gary's descriptions are so unique. For instance, he recalls the first time he sees the sea and the profound effect it had on him. "I am unable to think of the sea as a mere 'it' - for me she is the most living, animated, expressive, meaningful, living thing under the sun. I know that she carries the answer to all our questions, if only we could break her coded message..." Page 104.

The book is full of observations like this.

At times, I laugh out loud -- as he finds humor even in tragedy.

Gary paints with words. The book is a work of art.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I was bouncing around in a pickup truck on a dirt strip along the Timor coast last weekend -- listening to the music on my flash key as I was dodging mud holes.

One of those songs, that I had forgotten was on the flash, was by Toni Childs. So, here I am driving right by the seashore when her song "Where's the Ocean" comes on. She just kept singing "where's the ocean, where's the ocean, where's the ocean."

I guess it was the juxtaposition of the song and where I was at that moment -- I suddenly burst out laughing. It just seemed so ridiculous.
Why the ocean is right here! You can see the white pickup in the distance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flickering Lights

Each afternoon, shortly after lunch, the florescent lights in the office begin to flutter. The UPS units, which provide a few minutes of battery power to the PC's, begin to beep and suddenly the office is plunged into darkness.

Life in Dili, lately.

The power interruptions are becoming more regular -- and are lasting longer.

Saturday, one line into the compound was off seven hours -- which meant no water. I also noticed the refrigerator was off -- so I re-routed it to a working outlet.

Today, the power went out and the generator worked, but it was sickly. It was belching smoke and whining most of the afternoon. I expect it will need replacing. When it runs, all the air conditioners must be turned off -- most computers don't work and we're lucky if the server -- which supplies internet -- keeps working.

Yet....we're lucky. These power interruptions are nothing compared to what people living outside Dili have to contend with: no power -- all day, every day. It comes on each evening at 6pm and goes off around midnight. Like I said -- we're lucky.