Hi Everyone,

Ok, here is the first in what I hope will be a number of blog entries to keep you all informed about my life here. After struggling with a couple of programs (they kept mixing up my pictures) I hope this blog will turn out ok. These first few post are an attempt to catch you all up on my life here as I have been very lazy about keeping in touch. I also did not want to subject all of you to mass e-mails that none of you were going to read anyway. This way you can read about my time here if you like or just look at the pretty pictures for those of you who don’t read so good….

So here is the quick update. I was in San Francisco for 3 months working with the Asia Foundation. This led to an opportunity to start up a project on governance and conflict vulnerabilities in Dili, East Timor with the Foundation’s office out here. It took me 5 days of traveling to reach East Timor and I have been here and working for just over a week.

As far as work goes I am doing an analysis on the recent (and continuing) violence here in the Capital and linking the root causes to structural and governance weaknesses. With this I am issuing grants to a local NGO to organize seminars to develop recommendations for reform. It is actually a more exiting project than it sounds as East Timor is in the middle of a dynamic transition and we think we have the political connections with the Prime Minister and the President to support our recommendations. So that’s the background on that….now for the fun stuff.

Dili is a crazy place. It is set right on a beautiful blue bay and flanked on the other three sides my mountains. It is the poorest nation in Asia and the average family makes about $1.01 a day (which is tough when the average woman has 7.3 babies). It makes for an interesting contrast with so many international organizations and the UN driving their Land Cruisers around. The police force and military have been basically taken over by a new UN mission and you see international police and their automatic weapons walking around the streets and eating next to you while Australian tanks patrolling the main roads. I wish I had my camera when two tanks stopped in the middle of the street, backed up and parallel parked so that they sandwiched in a car and the hot girl driving. Not sure how far they got once they started hitting on her from the top of their tanks. The funniest group is the Portuguese GNR (Paramilitary) who like to oil themselves up on the beach in their speedos on the weekends and work out all over the place.

Security wise things ebb and flow here but it is not safe to be out at night without a car, and even then you have the danger of arrows and stones being shot at you. During the day things are mostly fine but one US female was held at knife point the other day in a popular area. Luckily she was not hurt because the guys with the knives only wanted to kill Australians. So there is definitely an air of caution about going out but going with a group to established areas is usually OK. Although most nights I have been stuck in my hotel room due to increased violence at night during which most organizations force their staff to stay in.

I have made a number of friends thanks to a contact here from a Fletcher friend. I have been able to go out to the “bars” a bunch of times and hang out on the beach with a good group of people. Saturday I had my first Hash House Harriers experience. We started and ended at the New Zealand embassy where we had a pool party and BBQ. I spent Sunday on the beach swimming and playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Unfortunately, Sunday is also when I had my first real “adventure” (besides everyday living here). I crashed into someone while going for the Frisbee and when I stood up my fourth toe on my right foot was dislocated and sticking out perpendicular to my foot. I hobbled up the beach and found Dr. Ross (who was sun tanning with his Brazilian boy toy who doesn’t’ speak his language) and he popped my toe back into place. Although it wasn’t all the way in so I had to pop it the rest of the way in when I got back to my hotel room. It was all a bit painful J

So Monday is starting off the be a pretty rough day pain wise but work wise I am really busy with meetings and negotiating with a local NGO who I want to organize the seminars. I even had a meeting with the office of the President to discuss my project. It is odd how easy it is to see people when they think you have money that they need….

So, all in all things are pretty crazy here in East Timor., and it seems a bit like a frontier town with all the crazy internationals you could hope for. There is a lot to keep me occupied, and in trouble, and the work environment can be difficult but rewarding. I think when I consolidate my schedule a bit I am going to get my scuba diving certification which will be a good distraction (at least once my toe heals). As for job possibilities after my 1 month contract ends, I am still trying to meet as many people as possible and figure it out.

I hope you are all doing well and I would love to hear from you and hear what and how you are doing. If you respond back I promise you will get a more personalized e-mail that will not include all the background info I just forced upon you.

Talk to you soon,

Todd

A block from my hotel

A Typical Sunday

Traditional Dancer

Across the Street from the Supermarket

The Perfect Combination

Me with the Malaysian Police


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