Two days, barely 30km

Timor makes me feel like a control freak.

There is no avoiding the feeling that things slip completely of my control. Or maybe the idea that I controlled anything was a flimsy illusion.

There is the arbitrariness of everything: will the water run today? Will the bus come today or tomorrow? Will the martial arts groups get too drunk tonight? Will it finally rain so I can plant corn? Will my cousin in Ireland send money so I can buy a truck or a bus?

I was supposed to be in Ossu-ona yesterday for a ceremony. I waited all day in the market for a dump truck up there, surrounded by awful, rude people. Only a cat and an ambiguously gay shop boy to keep me company.

Nobody knew about the bus. Nobody gives a straight answer, nor do they understand the concept of a straight answer. Irritated, and unwilling to admit defeat, I took a microlet 20 km to the next town, where I knew I could find a place to stay the night.

This morning, I had everything set up, a ride, everything.

Two breakdowns later, I have to admit that today I reached my breaking-point. The first truck never came. Broken. After waiting hours in front of the church in Laga, with only one friendly person to chat with (thank you anonymous construction worker from Lospalos), I got a ride with a gentleman going to see his family up in Ossu-ona. The truck broke down 15 minutes ride above Laga. Matebian in cloud.

I gave in, to maromak. Fate, but here it’s easier to say God.

The Timorese people in Laga said I should go to the church in Baucau and pray.

Here I am, no church, having taken a bath and rested, and I’m feeling like a total wuss. I was too tired to even play basketball at the high school.

Baguia has to be one of the most lost places to all of Timor. Before, said ride number two, people used to walk it. Five hours from Baguia to Laga, for Timorese people. Now, there is every-other-day transport. So this is an improvement.

Few places are as forgotten as Baguia. Maybe the orphans in Soibada, the school that educated Ramos Horta and others. He remembers the place because he ate rotten corn cobs there for seven years straight. He tried to escape once, was captured and beaten with a palmatorio, a wooden paddle with holes in it, so it hurts more. Not much has changed there either since then, since the malai mutin. I went there with UN Agency for work about 4 years back, and the children were living in what I deemed to be medieval conditions. Harsh Filippina nuns in charge.

Back to my sob story.

Out of two days of travel, I made it roughly 30 km. I would have to wait another day to reach the next 15km. I honestly would be better off walking in the pre-dawn hours and towards sunset. But once again, I am a wuss.

I’m going to stick it out here in Baucau, see if I can make some good contacts. There are apparently unpublished manuscripts, people’s memoirs and such, at the Diocese that were never destroyed.

I’ll try to work on dealing with the arbitrary. It’s really hard to shake a need for good information and a feeling of control of the most basic things in life.


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