Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What the Dili yo?

So I am in Dili. Dili is the capital of the world’s newest country, Timor Leste (established 2002). You probably have older things in your refrigerator.

I haven’t seen much of the country yet, as the hotel is right next door to the office and I spend most of my time in one of those two places. I will give you a little bit of fun background on things that I have learned in my security briefing yesterday. (Delivered by the biggest Ken doll I have ever seen.)

In addition to your general corruption, pollution, poverty, power cuts etc. problems of a standard developing world city, Dili has a smidge of a problem with politically motivated riots and gang violence. Though the curfew has recently been lifted (you can now go out after 6 pm), it is recommended that people don’t travel alone at night and that women don’t take taxis after dark. (We just fit so easily into the trunk.)

The World Bank office is directly next door to my hotel on the road that faces the beach (great sunsets apparently). It is safe to walk between these to places, and to any nearby restaurants in the direction of Jesus. (Catholics. Always with the giant Jesus overlooking the city.)

Do not, however, walk towards the restaurants in other direction late at night. While the WB building is on one side of the hotel, the other next door neighbor is a particularly militant IDP camp. [IDP means Internally Displaced Person, UN lingo for refugees.] And once the IDPs get to a-drinkin’ all hell can break lose.

Arriving at the WB building, there is a concrete slab and with a simple metal cross on it just outside the gate. I thought it was a just remnant of an old fence, but apparently it is marks the site where someone was killed.

World Bank Timor Leste: “No one killed out front since May!”

And I have this great driver named Ano. He looks like the guy that your mother won’t let you go out with in high school. Sunglasses all the time, tattoos, tricked out black Nissan… It even has one of those weird ultimate-spoiler things on the back, like the cars in Jersey. I felt like such a badass rolling up to my meeting with the UNDP.

I am making it sound worse that it is. Mostly to get a reaction out of my mother who has been in full blown panic mode since I arrived. Don’t worry Mom, I will be fine.

And happy Halloween to everyone. (I am sort of hoping they don’t celebrate it here.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are correct Kristen - your Mother is slightly on edge since you told her that you were going to Timor (east or west, I don't know). She reads the papers you know. Maybe next time you'll tell her you're going to a nice, safe place for a change!! See you at Christmas. Love, Georgia