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.

We met a man tapping tua mutin by himself on some black palms towards Dare.

After Dare, it was time for a swim at Betoo Beach, paradisiacal as ever, just as we were getting there the Merpati flight roared overhead. Other malais must have been put off by the big band of brown water coming from the Comoro River and yesterday’s strong rain. The beach was full of Timorese kids though and had a peaceful, heckle-free vibe.

After some time floating – which is one of my favorite “activities” in Timor – I finally had a read-through of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Development Plan summary.

I can only describe the SDP, as it refers to itself, as the articulation of the “uma mutin [white washed house] for all” that Xanana and others promised Timorese in the jungle. I do not object to this in theory. But I came to the conclusion quickly that he would have been better off paying outrageous fees to a consultancy like KPMG to write this – at least it would not have been full of questionable macroeconomic analysis, exaggerations and omissions.

(And apparently that summary document only exists in English and Portuguese, and the full document of over 300 pages made its way around Dili and civil society via an unofficial upload to Assuming also that most of the Council of Ministers have yet to actually digest this.)

I understand the desire to be the “greatest”, but in the real world, without professional translation – or at least a dictionary – we can only be the greatset.


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