It is supposed to be the dry season. Stick frames of new houses are up on the road from Dili to Maliana. But yesterday it felt humid and I was delirious with the lull of the car motor and the bends in the road. It felt like a dream. I noticed big bulbous clouds forming in the West and saw some big, rising cumulonimbus over neighboring Alor.
By the time I returned to Dili it was sticky and clouded over. Strange. In any other place in the world I would have thought rain immediately, but it is just not supposed to rain here in late July. Nightfall and it began to drizzle. A relief, the temperature dropped slightly. But it was still hot enough to want to take a cold shower around midnight, which I greatly appreciated.
Perhaps the weather is taking is cues from the political situation in Dili. With a couple of days build-up, of protest, newspaper and TV coverage of the police encampment surrounding former governor Mario Carrascalão’s house, the police finally evicted him Monday. People were shouting, ‘We love you Mario, who helped us in our struggle, not like Mari Alkatiri.’ According to the Portuguese press (the only intelligible news source) the guy was given the house (constructed by the Portuguese) by the Indonesians in the 1980s. Under the new property law, all Portuguese and Indonesian government property reverts to state ownership. The state half-heartedly negotiated with Carrascalão over rent, but judging by the fact that he built a whole new house on the property in the past year, he argued the rent should be very reduced. The government would take it after a few years. But the Mozambiquan Oligarchs who run this country (Alkatiri and Ana Pessoa primarily) decided that they wanted him out, and demanded an outrageously high rent, sending the police in to seal the deal.
The poor Policia Nacional de Timor Leste are still hyper paranoid after December 4. All of my colleagues at work were scared of another riot. Alkatiri’s new house (post-December 4, when his old one was burned) was in spitting distance around the corner.
But in the end, all Timor got was a drizzle. No downpour. Mario ‘surrendered,’ exiting the house at noon claiming he would await the results of his suit against the government. Facing defeat in the courts, he told the press he would seek political asylum in Portugal. (Which would be the ultimate irony as his father was a deportado, a man exiled to Timor for his anarchist politics in the 1920s).