There were a lot of loose ends to wrap up. Buying a bicycle for the Uatolari police station. Writing an encyclopedic handover note for the folks at UN-office. Giving booze and clothes away. Buying agendas for the drivers (all out, had to buy wallets).
As a custom, I like to spend the last weekend before I leave a place far away from town. At first the plan was to camp in a coffee plantation. But the Carrasacalao family seemed to have circled the wagons after being evicted from their house in Dili (see entry from July 29), and even we thought it bad taste to ask to camp on the famous Fazenda Algarve in the mountains west of Dili.
So a good Australian friend and I went to the decadent Pousada in Baucau, to spend a couple of hours on the beach on Sunday morning. Ran into friends, spent the morning waiting for the tide to come in, floating in the shallow water, staring off at the line of clouds which indicated Wetar island in the distance.
Nothing momentous happened. I would like to say I ached with feeling. But I just felt normal. I did not even feel like a sellout for staying in the $50/night hotel. I guess I felt rather gone already. Thoughts like, a week from now I will be in the US, far from this ocean, from this life. Trying to enjoy my last trips to the market, the kiosk. The last sunset coming into Dili over the sunbaked orange hills.
I was to be the guest of honor at my best Timorese friends house. Dulce had the whole family, from Viqueque and Maliana, cooking in my honor. There was tempeh, tofu and fish, a feast especially designed for me. Her daughter Nina sang a song/poem for me in Portuguese. I sat next to her Great Uncle, the Minister of Education, who lived in Minnesota for a while. We conversed politely in American English.
I told Dulce that I would see her again. She met me at the airport the next day with an entourage of Nina’s friends and cousins. Queen came and so did Rodolfo, a good Filipino friend. We sat drinking Solos in the airport cafe, home of the $3 ramen noodles. The overweight children of an obviously American UN Police officer were fidgeting in their chairs in front of us.
I was most nervous about saying goodbye to Queen as I knew that she was about as nomadic as me, and who would know when our paths might cross again. I was sincere when I promised to come back to Timor, and I knew that Nina and Dulce will have only made inspiring changes in their lives when I returned.
As I ran into the departure lounge, I remembered the departure of Amerioca, when she exclaimed “Le monde est un petit pois!”