Friday, December 3, 2010

General dispatch

my favourite picture so far this trip: a mason / carpenter in Oecusse town


Solvatten scramble

I imported some things into Timor. It was a wild ride. I'm going back this weekend to do it again, but I'm older and wiser this time.


Indonesian is one of the most fun languages I've ever learned. It's a really cheery language, at least I feel it lends itself easily to pleasant conversation.

It's structured unlike any other language I've learned, with a whole host of pre- and suff- ixes and particles that modify words and expressions that I still don't understand: bits like per-, me-, di-, ken-, -kan, -nya, -an (okay, I know that one), and yang (I know that one too, but not that well) that keep popping up everywhere.

Indonesian is truly a joy to speak. Jokes are funnier, and cuteness is more precious. Different languages lend themselves to different things: Korean is great for complaining, French is great for complaining (and poetry, I hear), and Indonesian is simply a bundle of fun.

I just love the singsong lilt and how sheerly cute its direct translation to English is.

I like imagining that when I say "saya" and "anda" (the formal expressions for "I" and "you") I have a proper Queen's English accent and when I say "aku" and "kamu" (the informal ones) I say "aaah" and "yeww" like a proper southern gentleman.

Swahili is likely as fun (usi vute mto wangu*) but I didn't have the time to learn and enjoy it like I have with Indonesian. I also think that speaking Indonesian helps me with my chronic mumbling because of how sharp and defined the syllables are.


Atauro adventure

I'm really not the kind of person to make the effort to run away to an island to snorkel and relax and for a change of scenery, but when the opportunity presented itself to tag along with a group of fifteen that I hardly knew to Atauro island last weekend, I decided I would do it.

all the cool kids in the back of a truck. At 4am. Honestly, you didn't expect pictures of happy snorkeling land did you? That would be so typical

It was a great time-- I'm very glad I went and was sad when it was over. We swam in the sea (the water was unbelievably hot), climbed coconut trees and played beach soccer and lots of Loaded Questions-and-Taboo-like games. We got to know and like each other and had a bunch of fun.

another favourite picture: napping next to some Timorese women on the upper "locals only" deck (sneaked up before the captain got there and before I knew it was locals only) of a fishing boat going back to Dili


One of the families on the street I live on was building a new fishing boat the other day. It takes about three days to make one. First, they cut down a whole tree, and pare the trunk down to the longest and widest straight single piece they can.

After this, they carve out the inside by wetting it and attacking it with machetes and thick straight iron pry-bars. They also cut and shape the outside to make it more streamlined. Eventually, they will put outriggers on it to make it stable in the water. Here are some similar boats.

picture is actually from Atauro. The bags sitting in the water are net-bags filled with seaweed

To cut down a big tree, you need a big chainsaw.

2012 edit: although, I hear that sometimes, a small axe will do fine (:

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