Sorry guys. Been a bit buzy protecting butt for a day and a bit. Was forced (by generally deteriorating situation rather than direct machete threat) to vacate Chez Squatter and seek a safer location.
Left computer running and packed small bag (plus can of baked beans) but returned later when military presence became more visible (minus can of baked beans).
Yesterday morning, I heard a few shots in the distance but otherwise the night was quiet (or I slept through it). However, by 9am dark clouds of smoke appeared in the mid-distance. It think it was somewhere near Vila Verde. The locals in my vicinity were extremely unsettled and some who had held out at home, decided it was also time to go. I received word that it might now be a good idea to move somewhere safer.
Then things started to get rough. It seemed that gangs of machete wielding youths were causing trouble in many places through town. I think the fear in the Timorese was the worst I had seen so far. It appeared to be complete and total lawlessness. By late morning, there were a number of smoke chimneys from houses that had been torched in the Vila Verde/Bairo Pite area.
On the streets, there was no sign of OZ troop vehicles and it was clear that although the C130 transports had shipped in many troops, they were a bit short on vehicles which were on the supply ships.
At lunchtime, the first sign of OZ army vehicles appeared and like magic, there was a huge reduction in fear levels. Many people went home. But until every 2nd street corner has a military vehicle on it, it is unlikely that full confidence will be restored.
Despite the mass evacuation of foreigners, there are still reasonable numbers of foreigners left. One acquaintance dropped around yesterday morning in his vehicle wondering what all the fuss was about. For lunch, another went down and bought pizzas – shorts, sandals, quick trip down to the Castaway Bar. No problem.
You just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many people are emailing or texting all sorts of people to inform them whether they are staying or going. I already have numerous “I am in Darwin (or Bali)” emails. And also the email to meet up at a bar for a few beers
tonight last night with those I know who have stayed and carried on as usual. I declined as the other half just couldn’t see the point.
I had a coffee at the Hotel Timor cafe yesterday afternoon with a few acquaintances prior to sticking my nose in on Prime Minister Alkatiri’s press conference. I thought I might be about to witness something significant, but no. It appears the government is in full control.
As I walk out past numerous gun-toting foreign troops, I don’t think so.
PS Running out of toilet paper so will be trying a supermarket trip today.