Ode to paun

acción de hombre,
milagro repetido,
voluntad de la vida”
Oda al pan, Pablo Neruda

For whatever reason, perhaps the alignment of the planets, the neighborhood I am staying in has been really calm. The pronounced caterwall-ceasefire has continued. Last night, a Friday night, was dead quiet. I was able to sleep until past 7am for the first time in weeks (but was abruptly forced out of bed by a neighbor leaving his diesel engine running with the exhaust pipe pointed at my window).

I took advantage of the fact that I not truly slept in to go and buy some paun.

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Placenta up a tree

I did not know it on arrival, but I learned that the tree outside the house I am staying in has a placenta hanging in it. (In Timor, in different regions people save placentas in different ways. They are not something to be simply discarded or ignored.)

The placenta came with a baby delivered in Dili Hospital after nearly a 24 hour labor. During this time those accompanying the young mother had to buy sarongs for her to lie on during childbirth, as apparently the room where women give birth is BYO linens.

On Tuesday, as I was dealing with the consequence of an excessive amount of water and coffee I drank that morning in a subdistrict not far from Dili, I looked over at the fetid water in the tiled mandi tank next to me, which I knew for a fact to be little over a year old.

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The Greatset

The first mikrolet to catch my attention in my first full day in Dili was “Greatset” – which at first it appears to be a misspelling, but after a second passes, one hopes there is a “great set”. Maybe a reference to some advanced number theory, or some special group of people, or the spectacular end to a three hour tennis match.

My day started with a walk from Matadouro to the café in Dare and back.

With the strange, continued rains, not only has the water continued to seep up onto the walls of the house I am staying, but it has maintained the hills fairly green. And the grasses in the hills above Dili had yet to dry out like they normally would have by now. We walked with them lightly scratching the skin on our shins, passing only a handful of people, mostly families walking down to Dili, on that road.

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From slave to “beneficiary”

Imagine, for a moment, the German government “helping” Poland re-create a network of railways. Imagine that these train lines went to Auschwitz and various other prison camps. Imagine that these railways would be built by German engineers, contractors, and were supported by German army logisticians. Imagine that these railways would periodically have German emblems and flags commemorating the “gesture”, and that there would be ceremonies to inaugurate the lines with Polish head of state.


Well, imagine that the German government had never actually said “sorry” in the past 60 odd years. For anything.


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