Events for the cerebral

There are 3 things I never do in public … these days. They are (1) line dancing, (2) take my clothes off and (3) karaoke.

For those into (3), your place on Saturday 1 December at around 7pm onwards is the Caz Bar. If that turns you on, there will be the 3rd and final round of “Dili Idol” at Jacks Bar on the following Saturday. I will not be attending as I am absolutely certain that like me, there will be some people who should only be singing by themselves in an anechoic chamber.

For the rest of us talentless people, there will be the Dili Cup horse racing meeting on 10 December at Tasi Tolu. I have no details or times but suspect you should bring your own food, drink and portable toilet. And probably your own racehorse.

For the Christmas shoppers, don’t forget the “1st Annual Timor-Leste Asean Trade Expo” at Independence Memorial Hall in Farol (ie across the road from the lighthouse) running from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 1 December AND Sunday 2 December*. You can buy any manner of tais, indoor and outdoor furniture, crafts, oils and soaps etc. etc.

* Thanks FOS for the correction.

Shopping for the sensitive new age guy

Its funny how you spend half your working life wishing you earnt US dollars rather than the OZ dollar and now that you do, you would rather be paid the Pacific Peso (a now quaint historic term for the OZ dollar). One side-effect is that western goods sourced from OZ are getting a tad more expensive.

My new pack of 5 dozen Marathon dim sims now costs USD30, up from USD20 last time. Even the $2 Tiger beer is fast disappearing and it is only a matter of time before your typical OZ beer rockets from $2-50 to $3 over the bar. Mrs.Macs pies remain at around the $2-50 mark. For some reason, I don’t seem to notice the price of most other things except maybe breakfast cereal which has broken through my upper ceiling price.

It is worth noting that the general feel of Dili is significantly different when comparing early 2006 to now.  I would think western supermarket turn-over has trebled so goods ought to be fresher and turn-over greater.

For the discerning snag, here is my analysis of price increases from MY sample basket of goods.

Price increase is from March 2006 to October 2007 (close enough to 18 months). During the same period, the US dollar fell by 21% against the aforementioned peso. My sample is based on one selected vendor and as we know, prices can vary significantly between vendors.

Snag Item Price Increase
Melbourne Bitter cans (OZ) 21%
Heineken cans 29%
Tiger beer (Sg.) 17%
Bintang beer (Ind.) 0%
Penfolds Rawsons Retreat wine (OZ) 0%
Wolf Blass Red Label wine (OZ) 0%
Penfolds Koonunga Hill wine (OZ) 0%
Gordons Gin (part NZ) 11%
Johnny Walker Red Label 0%
Coca Cola (OZ) 21%
Coca Cola (Ind.) 20%
Soda water (Ind.) 20%
Heinz Baked Beans 10%

The figures are revealing. Some of your 100% OZ produced goods seem to have increased exactly with the fall in the US dollar. Non-OZ goods do a bit better. However, no matter what prices I looked at, OZ wine has not changed at all. I guess this reflects the production situation in OZ more than anything else.  Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Waste, trash and other rubbish

I went for a long walk along the beaches towards the Christo Rei statue recently and was amazed at the amount of rubbish washed up on the sand.  I suspect most of it was flushed out of the Dili city drains after recent rains and later deposited to the east of town.

This area on the east side just happens to be touristy/relaxation side with restaurants and often used for exercise.  It looks bad.

Another related thing is the slowly increasing size of the ad-hoc dump on the top of “Ramos-Horta hill” (as it is often called).  Right at the top of this hill (which has sweeping views of the seaside below) is a small area which is used to dump rubbish.  It is at the top of a natural drainage path, which in heavy rain probably runs like a torrent.

This drain empties into the bay area occupied by Caz Bar, Sol e Mar and as it looks right now, one or two more new establishments in the making.  This is probably the most heavily utilised relaxation spot in Dili.  This area is also behind a reef which at low tide extends a long way out, so any “pollution” entering this area, has a bit of a struggle getting flushed out.

It is my guess that if this situation is left too long, horrible nasties will eventually leach out of this dump into the natural drain and end up in this nice touristy recreation area.  And as it is behind the reef, the nasties will more than likely settle in the area behind the reef.

This situation applies on the Dili side of “Ramos-Horta hill”.  But on the other side, the amount of urban rubbish being dumped is steadily increasing.  Maybe I am too sensitive, but it is becoming a disgrace.  Piles of rubbish dumped on the once pristine areas of the foreshore.  Try to find a clean spot to park near the water amongst the trees and you are more than likely going to find a pile of bottles or cans etc.  Fortunately, the dogs and pigs have snaffled out all the usable organic matter before it arrives on the beach.

Some of the used bottles do get recycled as containers for fuel, tua, and honey.  However, it is a pity that there is no noticeable domestic waste recycling industry here because if there was a return for all the empty glass bottles, plastic bottles and cans, I am sure there are plenty of people who will clear it up.

Security Situasaun

Recent deaths around town and other anecdotal evidence suggests that the security situation is tending towards deterioration.  Most long-term expats tend to ignore the isolated incidents until it affects them personally.  It’s nothing like last year or early this year, but the worm seems to be heading up slowly once again.

I have heard of a couple of incidents where ex-pats have been cornered by groups of locals where the aim appears to have been to take money.  As in the past, solo women seem to be  deemed an easier target.  Travelling down small narrow laneways or taking taxis seem to be the higher risk movements.  And being followed after using one of the ANZ ATM money machines to load up with cash.

Last year, I developed the habit of using an old decrepit wallet with only the bare essentials in it.  So if I am ever done over, I am hoping the moths will tickle them into submission.  I am also tempted to install a personal protection device (ie a big stick) on my bicycle.  Some would say I am also taking ugly pills – sorry, but no … it’s genetic.

First Lady Cup Fun Run Placegetters

For the record, here are the placegetters this year :

Place Women Men
1. Ines Borges (38.25) Elias Da Deus (32.52)
2. Aliaca Alin Soares
3. Silvina Babo Francisco Dos Santos
4. Emma Roche (ISF) Januario da Costa
5. Megan Webber (ISF) Jose April
6. Fidelia Martins Henry Stimpson (ISF)
7. Kate Shore (ISF) Tebea Dea (ISF)
8. Dalia Amaral Domingos da Silva
9. Alisa Kreynes (HHH) Idelfonso Dos Santos
10. Jenny Asman (HHH) Aderyto Perera

All runners Timorese (including many from Timor Athletics Association) except :
ISF – International Stabilisation Force
HHH – Dili Hash House Harriers

Any help with spelling appreciated.

First Lady Run

I said : “I overtrained”
They said : “You under-trained”

I said : “I must have gone to bed too early”
They said : “Did you go to bed at all?”

I said : “I should have gone to church this morning”
They said : “You wouldn’t know a church if you fell over one”

I said : “I must be allergic to green sports drinks”
They said : “Allergy my ar##”

I said : “Yep, THAT’s what I am allergic to !”

And so went the analysis of my extremely marginal improvement over last year’s performance at the First Lady Cup fun run.

It was a great day, well organised, great band, top effort by all the organisers.

It should be noted that Timorese runners came in the first three in both the mens and the womens.  The ISF had a few places in there and one or two un-military ex-pats.

I am currently in training for next year.  Yeah right !!!

More events for the athletes

If you are in Dili and you don’t already know about the 3rd Annual First Lady run, you must live under a rock.  It is on this coming Sunday with an 8am start.  See my previous post.  It is never too late.  Just be there outside the Palacio.

On Saturday 1 December, there will be the “Ride for Peace” bicycle event from Maubisse to Dili.  It will start at 6am from Maubisse which implies an overnight stay in Maubisse with your bicycle, helmet and not much else.  There will be support along the 70km route with drinks etc.  There is no entry fee and there will be a lunch provided at the end.  Watch for more details but again, if you want to do it, just be there in Maubisse at 6am that morning with your bicycle and helmet (compulsory).  Take your camera and don’t worry about being first.  Enjoy – you may never do it again.

Yep, it did rain again

Having previously bagged the forecasters for predicting rain which never came, it finally did come on Tuesday via an afternoon bucketting.  It really tested the newly constructed drains around town but until I stand out in the rain and watch the water movement in detail, the jury is out on the usefulness of these new works.

The new drains comprise quite a high barrier on the kerb which may annoy low-slung cars no end in the door opening department.  The drain itself seems a little on the small side given rain here usually comes by the container-load when it does come.  And it is noticeable that the drain itself is a bit on the rectangular side making it a bit bumpy for vehicles entering adjoining properties.  The result is that many people have already filled in the drain outside their premises to smooth vehicular entry.  Something tells me this is not going to work.

Nevertheless, during this rare rain event, the roof at home leaked as usual, water hammered in under the back door, the front gate was reduced to a lake and it was business as usual.

Predicting Dili weather like betting on the horses

A while back I plugged as the best Dili weather report on the internet.  Up ’til then, all I ever heard was the daily Radio OZ report which told me 30+/-3 degrees every day.  Then it would tell me “cloudy all day” when it wasn’t, “thunderstorms” when there was no rain at all.

I just can’t see the point in telling me the temperature here.  I know it is going to be 27 to 34 degrees every day of the year and the temperature is not going to have any effect on what I wear or do.   The key differentiating features are humidity and whether it is going to bucket down rain or not.

When it comes to predicting rain, Dili is a bit of a forecasters nightmare.  It sits in a little bowl just between the sea and some steep hills.  At this time of the year, the clouds will often creep over the hills after lunch, look ominous then fall back again.  This can go on for weeks and it is the time that the weather reports predict rain over and over again and nothing comes even close.

Just like betting on the Melbourne Cup which had Dili Club, Dili Beach Hotel, One More Bar and others hopping on an otherwise quiet Tuesday afternoon in Dili.