Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hotel California




It’s been a long time but they say you either love it or hate it here and everyone that loves it will always be back.  Well hello, I’m back.

Never thought I would be, because leaving last time was so emotional, I didn’t want to leave but it was due, it was the right time and it was good to get back to ‘civilization’ again. That lasted a month until wearing hiking socks in the house was no longer a novelty, time to return to the tropics!

18 months in the Philippines and a year in Bali which was kind of civilization and some great friends, I decided my brain was turning to mush.  I can do low pay and loving my job.  I can do high pay and hating my job.  What I can’t do is hating my job and getting paid badly for it.  Bali is an incredible place to live but my brain needs exercising!

So back to Dili and much to many friends shock, not diving!  The job has potential and already I’m enjoying it, overseeing an Italian restaurant with loads of other projects underway.  I never in million years thought I would be in the food industry but I kind of adopted it in the Philippines (kicking and fighting as I was a dive centre assistant manager) to my advantage now.  They say you have 3 careers in your life, mine has been IT, diving now food, but I now have a passion for painting but neither will make me rich!

So Dili has not changed much, finally Timor Plaza has opened, (they had been building it or 2 years when I left, and it’s the same crappy shops but in a nice new fa├žade except for Gloria Jeans which is apparently Australia’s equivalent to Starbucks and Burger King, haven’t faced that yet but I’m wondering if the burger is served with rice as back in Bali KFC was with rice (that’s just wrong! Slaw and fries).  

They do have a nice place on the roof of the Plaza called the Sky Garden, the views over Dili are amazing accompanied by a very cheap glass of cold Australian Chardonnay at the Friday night happy hour.  My artist friend lives in the apartments there, so it’s a nice conclusion to a few hours painting.
As posh as the Plaza is (Dili Standards) you still can’t get shoes here (unless you want 5 inch glitzy wedges), I discovered this after breaking 4 pairs in two weeks due to the horrendous potholes which as before they are trying to fix all at the same time causing huge traffic problems.  And the dust, I had forgotten just how dusty this place is, especially as there are unseasonal winds at the moment which made for a very ‘interesting’ crossing to Atauro Island.  We had a couple of girls from Singapore on the journey with us who excitedly asked about whale and dolphin spotting! Not in waters as rough as this!  I actually averted my eyes as the waves filled the whole backdrop of Joanna who was sitting in the wet seat opposite me!  And I consider myself a hardened boat traveller.  One of the Singaporean girls was white knuckle gripping the side of the boat with her eyes closed the whole way and bless her, she managed to not throw up!

It was finally nice to stay over at Barry’s eco lodge and visit the cottage industry where I bought myself a small handbag after sporting a very loud 10L orange dry bag for the last 2 years.  We also caught a motorcycle taxi on the only road in Atauro, which promptly broke down on the way back due a flat tyre that had to be bicycle pumped.

It was also nice to dive with Joanna again although it was a shallow dive on the house reef due to the rough seas. Another question from the Singaporean girls ‘where’s the swimming beach?’ Answer, you are looking at it, what is normally a white sand beach was strewn with seaweed and rubbish and the crystal blue water a dirty brown, unlucky, but they were good sports and very nice company at dinner.

There were a lot more boats over at Atauro, this is all relative, I spotted six instead of the usual one! There are a few more private owners including Barry’s tinny which sports the XXXX beer logo (acquired from Gil after the demise of ‘One More Bar’). One of the boats was an Ambulance boat which Atauro sorely needed, but it’s only useful if it works! Plagued with engine problems from the start it’s a weather beaten ornament at the moment.  The good news is though, Atauro is getting an airport which means patients can be medivaced to Dili that is providing they have a helicopter, a pilot and the helicopter is working!

Talking of maintenance, there seems to be multiple daily power cuts, much more even than in 2006.  But I am one of the lucky ‘Malai’ that has generator facilities so I don’t have to put up with the stifling heat every time the power goes off, although the heat has not been a problem the last few days as the wind has been so high and we have had unseasonal downpours so it’s cold! Even had to put a jumper on one day, in the tropics!  Still I have a nice hot shower in my new bathroom and my room is finally taking shape, just need to get some reading lamps which have always been near on impossible to buy in Dili unless you want plastic ‘Hello Kitty’ style or something equally as tacky. They are on the shopping list for my next trip to Bali along with 10 pairs of shoes!