Stepping back, slowly

Bedois, Becora, Dili.Sep 12 DL 285

For many of you who’ve travelled where time is based on life’s daily rhythms rather than clocks and schedules, you’ll know what I mean when I say a place shapes your pace. Timor Leste is no exception. I’m finally slowing down after two weeks.

Today was the first full day I’ve spent at home in Bedois. For reasons that seem distant to me now, I’d been resisting doing just that. I decided there was just so much going on in Dili — what with people to meet and organisations and restaurants to chase for a report on sourcing ingredients or delivering development and aid programs, and eating out to try as much food as possible. All valid and important work (someone has to do it). And when Berta is at work, the house in Bedois is quiet. But I began to notice I’d wake with a feeling of foreboding that having a crammed day with not moment to spare meant I was missing something else.

Tonight, I go to bed sleepy. My senses satisfied and body weary. We have spent the day cooking, filming and chatting. We bought food from the markets and hosted a dinner party. We survived the heat and mastered the cooking despite the four-hour blackout. And so, my sense of past, present and the future is noticeably different here.

Sep 12 DL 308

I feel my mind stretching when asked about my life in Canberra. My life here feels so far away from the way I live in Canberra. Or perhaps my time in Timor Leste feels so very close and intimate. It is partly pragmatic. I travel everywhere and at every moment hyperaware of my surrounds. And the rest is utterly romantic. I enjoy feeling absorbed in conversation, and arousing my sense of smell, taste and touch as I explore new sensations, and analysing what I am doing as I do it.

There’s something else extraordinary happening. I think cooking and talking with people about their country plants you in this place. My thoughts and questions centre on trying to clarify something and get a fuller picture of life in present day urban Timor Leste. It is because of friends in this country, and through what is quickly (ahem, I mean slowly) becoming an exciting piece of work and great adventure, that I am slowing down and am finding the present.

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~ Heidi x

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