Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Past Month

Okay, so I was away for a month in Timor L'este.  I am now back in my village but not for long I go away for another month on Sunday, but it is only to a city 5-7 hours drive from here called Kupang.

Anyway about my trip to Timor L'este.  I spent three weeks in the second biggest city in TL known as Baucau.  I stayed with the Canossian Sisters in that city.  I would have normally stayed in the volunteer house except that the house was full with people, Trisha, another American volunteer, the four Timorese teachers she lives with, and Trisha's sister, Alyssa and boyfriend, Greg, who were visiting for a couple of weeks from the States.  Anyway living with Sisters is interesting.  I had my own room in the convent but no privacy.  Although my door would many times be closed the Sisters would walk in (to call me for meals) without so much as knocking.  Mother Merlinda, the Mother Superior of the community would poke me in the stomach sometimes when she felt I wasn't eating enough.  Funny at first and then not so funny.  The World Cup began when I was there and who what of though Sisters were such avid soccer fans?  Well every night we watched soccer and they cheered just as loudly as any men I know when the team they favored made a goal.  I'd like to say more about living with the Sisters but that would take up too much of this blog post.

Anyway during my time in Baucau, I worked on the small library they were trying to set up for the girls' vocational school there.  I also learned how to make soap.  The vocational school has girls who have graduated from there earning a living my making a variety of different soaps.  The soaps are all made with palm and coconut oil.  They have like 10 different kinds such as lavender, lemongrass, Timor coffee, and so on.  Anyway I helped with the process and its interesting and fairly easy.  While there I also joined one of the cooking classes there.  The girls in that class where being trained for restaurant work.  The girls in general couldn't believe it when I told them that I didn't know how to cook and that I didn't know how to sew and that I was basically useless as a woman.  They liked that I tried to learn stuff, though.  I learned a couple of new things through the cooking classes.  Too bad we don't have some of the ingredients in the States that they have on this island.  You know i have seen many a strange fruit and vegetable here.  Well strange to me because they don't grow in the States.  Speaking of food, I should probably mention that I have never eaten as many different parts of plants as I have here.  I eat a lot of leaves and a lot of flowers here.  What's strange is that I find many of the flowers here are delicious.  I wonder what flowers we can eat in the States but don't.

I enjoyed my time in Baucau and kept busy for awhile.  It was relatively peaceful in the city but it can be very tense at times also.  Walking down the street I don't feel comfortable saying hello to strangers whereas in Indonesia I feel perfectly comfortable greeting people and people are always very kind.  I think this is because in the east there are many foreigners whereas in the west, where I live, there are virtually none.  I'm treated as an important person in my community many times just because I'm a foreigner.  This is really strange to me because I'm nobody special in the States.  I'm just a regular person but here people are pleased to shake my hand and treat me as an honored guest.  Its interesting and I'm not too sure I altogether like it.

There's a lot more to tell, like when the men at the bus depot in TL tore my luggage fighting over who got to take me in their bus, but I gotta get going now as I am in the city and have to go to the bank and to the travel company place to buy tickets. Til next time.