First Lady Fun Run Results

Last Sunday’s 2nd Annual First Lady Cup Fun Run is over and was a great success. The UN police were most impressed with the organisation of the run and it was totally problem free.

For the record, the results are shown below. Timor-Leste runners did pretty well, particularly the girls.

Top Ten Male

1st... William Harding 35.03
2nd... Richard Quirk
3rd... Filipe Rodrigues (TL)
4th... Augusto Ramos (TL)
5th... Januario da Costa (TL)
6th... Jameto Doreigo (TL)
7th... Steven Tetley
8th... Salim
9th... Robert Murphy
10th... Christian George

Top Ten Female

1st... Ines Markes 48.50 (TL)
2nd... Ruth Cornelius
3rd... Lola salves de Gama (TL)
4th... Gloriana Fatima (TL)
5th... Celia Martin
6th... Annabel Taylor
7th... Fatima Soares (TL)
8th... Aliansa Ramos (TL)
9th... Maria Duana (TL)
10th... Maureen Bronjes

I finished the 10kms … lets talk about the weather, shall we ?

Where am I ?

I asked myself this question last weekend after agreeing to move on from a bar to go to a friend’s place for gin and tonics. And when the tonic ran out, agreeing to replace it with vodka AND thinking it was a good idea.

But I am a map sort of guy and when I arrived, I was frustrated by the lack of a good up-to-date map of Dili and key locations. Whenever a new location appears on the scene, its always “its 200 metres west of such and such across from the so and so”. And in reality, it is south-west and 400 metres.

I always like to know where I am (last Saturday excluded) so I have chipped away at working on a landmark locator using Google Earth. I am publishing it for the benefit of the geographically challenged and newbies fresh off the boat. (I’d still like to say it is my baby, so don’t rip it off and call it your own.)

You will find it in my “Other Stuff” section at the top of dili-gence as “Dili via Google Earth” or by going here which are really the same place. I am happy to receive any comments and additions and I will keep it up-to-date. Enjoy … and no jokes about my personal hobbies.

To all my friends in Beijing

This is an open letter to all of my friends in Beijing who call me on my mobile phone. In reality, it is to anyone from outside TL who calls me on my mobile phone. If I don’t answer it, then the recorded number on my mobile is a Beijing number.

I don’t know if this applies to international calls from everywhere but nevertheless, returning a call to that Beijing number is futile. Don’t ask me how it works but it would appear that international calls (from OZ, I assume) are routed through Beijing via some internet mechanism.

So I am really not being rude in not responding. I just don’t know who called. But it could be worse, Kiwis can not call home from a mobile here, presumably because there is no agreement between the respective phone companies. Whereas I can call and text quite freely from mobile to anywhere in OZ.

Mozambique – a different look

A friend of mine moved to Maputo in Mozambique 3 or 4 years ago and at that time, Timor-Leste had not even entered my radar screen.  We have both had a laugh at ending up in old Portuguese colonies and two with some significant historic links.  A few of the senior politicians here have spent quite a few years in Maputo during Indonesian times.
But I have never heard/seen Mozambique becoming a media issue over anything.  However, my mate has urged me to exercise caution and provided a few security tips that apply in Maputo.  Some of his advice includes :

  • always travel outside work and home in a car with windows up and AC on re-circulate (to prevent the bad guys putting gas into the air vents)
  • if you are on a bike (he assumes motorbike here) carry a machete or pepper spray, if you can get it
  • it is essential to have barred windows on both your workplace and home, with razor wire on surrounding fences if you can get it

From his words, I have always assumed Maputo is a bit rougher than here.  The recently released UNDP’s Human Development Report shows TL in position 142 and Mozambique at 168.  It’s hard to compare some of the figures but TL’s life expectancy of 56 is well ahead of Mozambique’s 42.

But I have never heard my mate express a desire to leave Maputo, nor have I expressed a desire to leave here – yet.

The Wet Season Crisis

The subject of the wet season crops up in conversation regularly.  Not so much for the potential humanitarian crisis, but just for a change from the relentless dry.  Normally, I would check my facts with a meteorology service, but it seems like it has rained about twice in the last 8 months.

From about a month ago, the humidity ramped up but although there has been the odd afternoon with dark clouds, there has been nothing.

Maybe I should get out more but I have still not seen a water storage dam in the country yet.  Groundwater appears to be an very important resource.

Anyway, a result of the endless dry period is bare hills.  These are the same bare hills that I could hardly believe possible when I first arrived in the wet season. The ground is gravelly and where there is no gravel, powdery bulldust.

So this is what the people in the IDP camps face.  Bulldust plus a couple of deluges and they will turn into mud and sanitation will be a nightmare issue.  The deluges themselves may drive some of them back to their old homes (if they still exist).  Yeah, it will be difficult.

The great custard tart catastrophy

Not that I have actually had one for a while, but the custard tarts at the Hotel Timor cafe are positively orgasmic.  I have been meaning to find out just where I could purchase them in bulk.  Perhaps the hotel kitchen or perhaps some secret bakery in Dili somewhere.

They are Portuguese-style little critters going under the Portuguese title of “pasteis de nata” and “shock horror” are actually imported from … wait for it … Australia.  Apparently, a Portuguese immigrant OZ is making these items and the Hotel Timor is importing them.

If you don’t believe me about how good they are, have a look here :

It’s not over yet

You could be forgiven for thinking that last week’s peace rallies and security forces reconciliation meant that things were on the improve. Well, there were 4 people killed in Ermera last week and 10 houses burnt to the ground (although I heard alternative reports of 100 houses).

Of course, that was not in Dili but about 30kms into the hills. The UN police do not operate outside Dili but may well do so soon.

Reports are coming in of more trouble over the weekend with at least one Timorese killed in the Comorro area. One of the NGO aid groups has also had problems with staff being detained (not by police) and staff going missing.

Now, I wasn’t the only person to say this, but it was only a matter of time before an expat got seriously injured. No-one knew how, where or under what circumstances this would happen but it has happened now. A Brazilian missionary (although the rumour mill had reported “doctor” and another “NGO worker”) was killed yesterday near the National Hospital.

I have no doubt this one event will ramp up security measures required of expats living and working here, most who have adapted to the security situation over the last month or two. (I’ve got a slow leak in a bicycle tyre anyway.)

I should point out that the National Hospital and Comorro areas are known hot spots and I keep well clear of these areas.

I should also note that the Portuguese press were onto this well before the English press were onto it. If you are fluent in Portuguese (or can nut your way through an online translation) a good site to get the latest Portuguese leaning on things is the blog at :

You will also notice mention of the head of the military (Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak) as a possible candidate for the presidency. I guess that means he is Portugal’s choice, assuming President Xanana retires next year.

The coffee report

This year’s coffee harvest is now complete.  Harvest time is usually between May and October (ie the dry season) and unfortunately this year, it coincided with the collapse in law and order.

The biggest coffee producing entity is the “Cooperativa Cafe Timor” which is a true cooperative which complies with fair-trade principles and is an organic producer.  (Note that all coffee in TL is grown au-naturelle and farmers have never been able to afford fertilisers/insecticides anyway.)  Delta Coffee is a Portuguese coffee company which imports Timorese beans for processing back in Portugal, but this year, they elected to give Timor coffee a miss. The other bigger player is Ensul, also Portuguese but who do have processing facilities here in TL.

CCT do not provide coffee to bars or restaurants in Dili.  Many used Delta coffee but with Delta’s decision to skip importation of beans this year, most of the Delta coffee outlets have switched to Ensul coffee.  Personally, I think Delta coffee was superior.  Furthermore, it is a pity that CCT do not supply locally as they probably have the superior quality, 70% of which is purchased by Starbucks.

CCT valiantly tried to carry on its harvesting and processing but were struggling with a severe shortage in labour due to people being too scared to continue on as per normal.  As a result, CCT only processed about two thirds of the volume it should have this year.
About 700 women work in the Dili CCT factory, earning up to about US$7 per day sorting beans in order to meet the standards required by Starbucks.  (US$7 is a high wage by TL standards.)  CCT have declined to move to automatic colour sorting machines because of the effect on this labour force.

Hundreds more work in the growing areas – harvesting, drying and transporting beans.

But isn’t coffee economics wonderful ?  Each cup of TL coffee as sold to Starbucks constitutes about 3 to 3.5 cents of revenue for CCT.

I do have it on good authority that the TL beans supplied to Starbucks are the top shelf article.  They also sell a lower quality bean “Estima” which appears in a blend.  These beans are from lower altitude crops.  The highest quality stuff (from the highest growing altitude) is usually known as Maubisse coffee.

Eat Turkish


A new Turkish restaurant (cafe style) has opened directly across the road from the Cold Storage supermarket and 30 metres towards the sea from the ANZ Bank. At the moment, it is doing doner kebabs (at US$6) but the owner (an Australian of Turkish descent) tells me they will be opening a second location soon and will also extend the menu to include pide and my favourite lahmacun.

Cok tesekkur ederim