Rush hour

In a taxi this morning, on my way to Caicoli, a Timorese VIP passed in a beige “luxury” SUV, with two UNPOL cars flashing lights on either side. In comparison with a similar scene in Africa, or even in Lisbon, quite a moderate convoy. Traffic barely even had to stop, and they were not going insanely fast.

I mentioned to the taxi driver that a big VIP was coming to Timor next week. He hadn’t heard. Everybody is gearing up for Jackie Chan’s visit with UNICEF.

Perhaps this is the biggest VIP visit since Cristiano Ronaldo came here for 6 hours from Bali.

Chan is well-loved here. He seems always in a good mood, makes great films, and never seems to age, which is always impressive.

Apparently the protocol for the visit is being planned down to the second. He’ll be here a total of three days and is going up to Ainaro. Let’s hope he gets a chance to see some spontaneous aspects of Timorese life. STL reports that Chan would like exactly that: “hare moris familia simples iha Timor.”

I’m assuming he’ll spar with some of the martial arts groups he’s going to visit.

Everybody seems to agree that this visit comes at the right time — it will help boost what seems to be a low morale all around.

I later walked past the Office of Social Reinsertion at the Ministry of Social Services, where there were a number of people milling around waiting for payment. I’ve been told that staff there have been really feeling the heat from IDPs awaiting payment, and that security has become an issue. Yet there was no visible police presence outside.

Traffic was temporarily blocked when a truck full of armed FDTL didn’t pull over enough far enough and lingered for a moment. Another two PNTL trucks went by, full of FDTL. I guess this has been a common sight with the Operational Joint Command, but I’m certainly not used to the mestiçagem (mixing) of the police and military.

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