I was fortunate enough during 2008 to live in Timor Leste for 6 months for work. Timor Leste – Leste meaning east in Tetum, the local language, really was a turning point in my life. I spent a majority of my time in the capital Dili, with only the briefest jaunts out of the city limits, usually on work business. Looking back, the lack of further exploration is one of my biggest regrets I am seeking to remedy with a return trip possibly in 2015. During my time in TL, I was also fortune enough to learn to speak Tetum to a conversational level. Sadly my reading and writing Tetum isn’t up to scratch.
In June 2008 when I arrived the the President, Jose Ramos Horta had been shot in an attempted assassination only a few short months earlier. After the briefing work had given me about what to expect they made it sound like I was going to an active conflict zone. However what I encountered could have been further from the truth. Sure if you wanted your electricity to operate without question and in turn your air conditioning; if you wanted your milk fresh; your meat shrink wrapped; your fruit and veggies from mega farms then possibly TL isn’t for you. If however you handle never going over 40km/h in your car, never obeying a traffic light, coffee strong enough to melt the spoon, grass so dry and tough that will stab your shoes - TL most certainly is for you. I tease.
Looking back, I can not think of a many negatives about the country while I was there – apart from not being able to drink the water from the tap. Over the coming weeks I will be making posts about my time there, sharing stories and experiences. If you would like to read more, keep an eye on this link, it will be a central point of all my Timor Leste posts.