Highlight 1: Betting the Turks at backgammon. Somehow, the same way beer always tastes better when your team is winning, it is always better to beat a Turk. They consider backgammon to be in their blood, a national pastime. But, when it really comes down to it, my American-ness has nothing to do with why they get so pissed off. It’s ‘cause I’m a woman. The guy that owns the Turkish restaurant that I pass on the way home everyday plays with one of the UNAPOL (United Nations Police – just one of the heavily armed foreign factions cruising around Dili on any given day.) I walked by and watched them play a couple times, sizing them up, before I casually mentioned that I could play too. And I got gifts when I won! I don’t know if I would qualify quite as a true backgammon hustler, but I kept myself in yogurt and flatbread pretty good.
Highlight 2: Diving. I was lucky enough to get an entire Sunday morning off this week. I headed out with a trip about 50 kms outside the capital. It turned out to be a complete shit show, but, man I still love diving. We got a flat on the truck, which would have been no big thing had we had a working jack. Instead you get a bunch of ailing 30-something former tough guys fighting with a jack that continually slipped, dropping the gear laden truck on anyone nearby. Fortunately a truck load of teen-something Timorese came by with a real jack and fixed the car for us. Then, I got into a brawl with a jellyfish. Admittedly, I was a little annoyed at the species already because one of his brethren had gotten my wrist on the first dive. So I took personal offense when I got stung again. And proceeded to flail around in annoyance enough to get myself three separate stings. Damned Cnidaria.
Highlight 3: Independence Day. I was hanging out in my hotel, reading my book, minding my own business, when I heard a series of pops and bangs and got a whiff of the unmistakable smell of gunpowder in the tropical air. Just then I noticed the wailing sirens in the background. Obviously the best place for me in an occasion such as this was on the hotel balcony facing the street so I could see what was going on. Ah. Fireworks for Independence Day. The sirens were just the usual background noise. (I had gone to the flag raising ceremony that morning, complete with sharpshooters and a military band that would be shown up by most elementary schools.)
Highlight 4 : Pig-dogs. I was up in the mountains supervising field training in a village filled with puppies and children in various states of malnutrition. (
Well, that pretty much sums it up. I am going to hit the spa tomorrow in Bali, then spend the rest of the long weekend in