This blog began with writings recorded on my Powerbook 1400 in East Timor from 2001-2003. Some of these entries were also written by hand during that period. During those years I lived and worked in the UN-administered territory, and then independent country.
Rai Ketak means literally “land apart”, or island in Tetum, the lingua franca of East Timor. I was inspired to use this name after crossing to Atauro Island one new years. Atauro is in effect “island” to a larger island reminding that human identities are also always relational.
The local boat I voyaged on was named “Rai Ketak” and the family which operated the boat seemed to live on the boat as though it was yet another island.
I left Timor in August 2003, and have been in touch with the place less than I would have liked. Email and phone contact is expensive and intermittent.
After much deliberation, I decided to re-start the blog for a ten week trip to Timor in late 2006. I have migrated to this address, which I hope will be its final home.
I had been very affected by the terrible news from Timor in the crisis of 2006. I hoped to focus on the lives of everyday Timorese, as I headed into the mountains and villages outside of Dili. I tried to steer away from the intricacies and depressing intransigence of Timorese politics, although not always successfully.
Probably against my better judgment, I continued blogging about East Timor since 2006. For years I travelled back to Timor once a year for work with a British NGO. My last trip to East Timor was in late 2010, and I left in a dengue-induced haze.
Oh, and my name is Janet, but you can still call me Panda or Raiketak.