Over the weekend, I travelled around Dili including runs (by car) to the airport and around the suburbs.
Since the airport trip, the Comorro area has further deteriorated and I would avoid that trip at the moment. The Comorro Road in the vicinity has been blocked on and off over the last few days.
Elsewhere, it appears things are slowly returning to “normal”, if you call foreign troops and vehicles normal. The base for the foreign troops (and OZ troops) is at the port, while the NZ troops have taken over the nearby ex-Thrifty rent-a-car site next to the Hotel Timor for their base.
It is now not uncommon to hear large military vehicles rumble down the streets and the odd chopper fly over. There was a flurry of chopper activity last night and on some other days, pre-dawn.
On Saturday, there were no open shops in the Colmera shopping area and quite a few “youths” milling around. I was on foot and moved on to the Ministry of Agriculture building (Fomento building). As far as I could tell, the whole place has been looted. People were filing out with desks, filing cabinets, stationery and I had been told that earlier, the more choice items like computers also filed out. Again, I moved on.
There was paper everywhere as little kids were hauling away stacks of printer paper which were breaking open and littering the streets with paper. There was no sign of any foreign troops – I wondered why.
An afternoon drive around revealed about 4 of the normal 54 shops in the Audian shopping street were open. I am told that has further increased since.
As for general damage, I did not see a lot. What damage there was, seemed targetted to me. A local told me a lot of the burnt-out shops were premises owned or run by relatives of the Prime Minister and in one case, by an Indonesian.
In the suburbs, I saw areas near Comorro (ie Fatuhada) with a selection of houses burnt down. I was told the village chief pointed out the houses owned by easterners and it was these that were burnt down.
There is definitely a shift by people to get back to work so that they can earn money to buy food. For many, they may still be going to work from a “refugee camp” and many others have no home to go back to. I am impressed with the apparent acceptance of the situation by many but concede I do not really know just how much the locals are hurting inside.
I am currently trying to find out the source of a news story which suggested that one of the well-known expat bars had burnt down. This came from a friend in OZ who mentioned it was in a news story there. I checked the bar and no problem, so I am baffled where this stuff comes from.
I do know a disco/bar was burnt to the ground on Comorro Road but it is not one frequented by expats.
I read one foreign newspaper piece (no names) where I just happen to know the details and the story I read was one of the worst cases of misinformation and fabrication I have ever seen. I considered a nasty letter to the editor but I believe others more closely affected by it, have already beaten me to it. It was a disgrace to journalism. No wonder relatives keep checking to see if I am alright.