Cholic: must eat something, it has been a week of donuts and yogurt. In the Friday afternoon holding pattern. This morning, intermittent water, just enough to bathe. My taxi driver nearly stalling all the way to work, listening to an Indonesian tape that required as much skill to record as my recorder lessons in first grade.

The weekend means so much more when you work. I realize now, and I told myself during my last seven glorious unemployed months to remember… But of course you take every lazy minute for granted. Every decision on a whim, every day you just slept in because you were tired. I even enjoyed washing my laundry by hand. Now there are literally not enough hours in the day. And I’m not going to spend my WEEKEND for that.

A Timorese colleague at work convinced me to begin an English conversation class for his kids and their friends. So it will be interesting, Sunday morning, testing university students in their ability to speak English. It will be tough for me not to launch into the tough topics: the War, why are Timorese youth so disrespectful to ME, what has their government done for them lately except forced them to learn Portuguese? Maybe we’ll start with the good old “Qu’est-ce que tu as fait ce weekend?” from my sophomore year French.

There is no weekend without at least temporary flight from this hot dustbowl. Even a bike-ride to the outer limits can suffice. Before this unpredictable class, I hope to leave Dili and go for a swim in the cold clean water west of here.

But the word “west” in relation to Timor is beginning to inspire fear that it did three years ago. The militia attack on the bus near the border two weeks ago has everybody quite nervous. Including former residents of Bobanaro, the border district, who now live in Dili. A colleague told me she is too scared to return home to Maliana at the moment. She considers herself a target of militia revenge, for having told the secrets of the militia to the UN High Commission on Human Rights and generally having served as a spy for the pro-Independence side in 1999. If they are stopping buses to rob them, her logic is, soon enough they will be stopping buses looking to exact revenge for their exile.

In any case, there are numerous roadblocks from here to the border, manned by Fijian, Portuguese and Australian troops. And the DPKO, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has been asked to slow the scaling down of the forces in Timor. Ironically, it is up to outspoken, pacifist France to agree to extend the mission. Let’s see how serious Chirac really is about peace in East Timor. (Don’t worry, I’m still ordering french fries, not freedom fries.)


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