Pathetic facade of humour now lifted. OZ Hercules arrived 4:30pm – everyone in town seemed to know. At 4:50pm, an OZ frigate came steaming in from the east past Christo Rei statue (a smaller version of the large Rio de Janeiro Jesus statue).
A local told me (how do they know these things so fast ?) so I rushed down to the seaside and watched as it approached. People slowly moved out to the waterfront, the cars appeared again, faces were happy. I must admit I choked a bit as not an hour earlier, I was applying some serious skidmarks to my underwear. The powers of stress and subsequent release.
The sense of euphoria was amazing. I walked down to the Motael church where hundreds had been camped out and noted that if you stand at the front steps and look out to sea, you see the Christ Rei statue in the distance and at one point, an Australian frigate (?) steaming in.
Full points for a superb Hollywood entrance for maximum effect. The ship steamed in and did a sweep down to the west and looped back for a sweep to the east before preparing to make the entrance into the narrow navigation channel to take pride of place as the only vessel parked at the dock.
I left before that as it was starting to get dark and also it was raining and I was drenched and still with a 1 km walk home. I’ll try to take the flash picture tomorrow morning.
Now back to pre-euphoria. Again the locals seemed to know this quite quickly but things really went to custard around lunchtime. Some of the loyal military and some of the police were involved in a battle with each other.
Possibly around the same time, something close to anarchy must have been going on in parts of town with civilians (neither military, police or rebels) all having a good old fashioned stoush but using knives and machetes.
More houses have been burned, more lives ruined. What a shambles.
I will leave it until tomorrow to see what the casualty count will be from today but it may not be pretty. No doubt the usual foreign press will be on to this by the morning with more details.
And why “euphoria part one” ? For many Timorese, the decision still has to be made where to stay tonight. One would imagine it will take the foreign military force 24 hours to get into real shape. It is raining real hard now. The conditions at some of the catholic refuges must be fairly dire by now with no food, water and sanitation services. And we are still talking well over 15,000 displaced people in Dili alone.
Euphoria part two could be a return to a house burnt to the ground, looted or smashed to bits. Or in the case of one friend of mine, her landlady’s parents were both killed overnight.
Euphoria part three might be a long haul while the country gets itself back into shape from an infrastructure, security and political point of view. Isn’t that why many expats were here in the first place ?
It just has to be gin and tonic time !!