As I left Dili a couple of dozen veterans did a color guard outside the ASDT residence on the beach front, to commemorate the unilateral declaration of independence by Fretilin, and then President Xavier do Amaral. Very few people had turned up to commemorate.
At the palace the FDTL was supposed to be parading. I was worried something might happen, but absolutely nothing did. Everybody was at home vegetating in the heat of a rainless late November Tuesday.
Lost Anthropologist, who finally got a gig working in one of the refugee camps, kindly took me to the airport. He confided more in me about his fieldwork, and how his emotional and personal life seemed to strangely and unconciously immitate his research interests.
In the airport I bought three t-shirts from an eccentric Quebequois teacher turned silkscreener who claims to be giving vocational skills to orphans. His next business opportunity is printing on tile, for Timorese tombs.
I had stupidly overstayed my visa, and played dumb at immigration. There was an awkward moment in which I realized that I could either pay the immigration officer the cash he requested (which did seem like the right amount) and walk through, knowing he could easily pocket it, or wait for his supervisor to come and lecture me and write me a receipt for the fine. I opted to leave the cash with him and thank him for his lenience.
My liurai informant’s daughter was at the airport, working security. It was she who checked my ticket as we walked onto the tarmac!
It was too hazy to see any detail of the north coast out of the window.
I told myself I would be back soon to Timor.
I’m currently in a smelly internet cafe in Bali where it costs about 1/10 of the money for a broadband connection. Caipirinhas for fifty cents down the street. Yummy cheap food everywhere. Happy, prosperous people. Burned, fat board-shorts wearing tourists.
I am numb.