A tired but content girl is filing from Dili this evening.
The day began with some quick Tetun over breakfast with dear Aneu. This man has the patience of a saint. Aneu helped me to summarise the project and prepare to greet the Village Chief later on today.
After some fresh bread and black coffee we make our way down the dusty road to visit the Chief. We find him on his motorbike leaving for meetings in Dili, an so make a detour past Aneu’s brother-in-law’s place. We are greeted by two sweet kids, a boy and a girl, giggling at the ‘malae’ (the foreigner) and two small chickens, before walking into the front room of the house and meeting the brother and his father. I greet them both with what would have been the Chief’s greeting (the men were happily surprised) and Aneu and I are given blue plastic stools to sit and talk.
Aneu speaks for a while and explains why I’m visiting their community.
More chatter follows before fried bread and tea are brought out to us by the brother’s wife and their children in tow.
While sitting among them all, the brother ducks out the room and comes back with his laptop, speaking quickly and pointing to our stools and the spot next to him. He gives the laptop to me, and on the screen is a black and white photo of a Timorese couple—a woman wearing a tais or woven skirt, and their eyes steady on the lens.
One picture of women and girls standing in a straight line, front on to the camera, and wearing black and tais.
Another of many men crouching over mounds of dirt with a few men in suits and hats off to the side, and I’m told this is Japanese men building a flat stretch of road in the mountains outside Dili.
There must be hundreds of photos. We’re told these have been taken by a German journalist during WWII when Japan occupied East Timor. They paint a precious picture of the Timorese at just one of many uncertain times in its history.
Our chatter moves on to recipes with lots of gesturing to explain how to cook a mean pumpkin. All I need to say is that I hope it is something that I try this time ’round.
The day is off to a good start. The sun is out and it feels beautifully soft and warm on my face.
Later that night…
Cravings during pregnancy are pretty darn common. Foods you’re suddenly dying for, and others you are repulsed by. Berta has been hunting down young mangoes to satisfy her three month cravings. She also can’t get enough salt and bitterness and eats tomatoes with salt and lemon juice, or straight salt, or tamarind. Now I’d never tried a tamarind, and to those of you who have done, I applaud you. They are bitter and I think best use to flavour food. But for Berta who eats these burnt orange fruits happily they offer something special. And so while the cravings have eased, tamarind stays on the dinner table.
~ Heidi x