Sunday, August 27, 2006

This is the finished roof with two access doors.

Here is the crew building the first water tank.

Here is me flying by on my motorbike. In your face PC!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

It is unsettling to hear the news from New Mexico that a good friend, that I saw only two weeks ago, has been shot.   Sounds like his life isn't in danger but may still have a long road ahead.  My thoughts go out to him and his family.  Take care man and get well soon.  


Hearing this news makes me realize what a bubble we live in the US.  East Timor has gone through a major political and civil upheaval of the entire society over the last three months including rioting, gang violence, police and military waring.   Most people would be worried to come here and even the US advises against it right now.  Yet the death or violence here over the entire last three months must be less than that which occurs in one day in New Mexico or other metropolitan areas in the US.   Of course it is dwarfed exponentially with what is happening daily in the Middle East and some areas in Africa and Asia.


Motor bike

Work is good.  I have stepped into a project that is already running and is nearing its end.   It is always the best time to enter into a project because all the hard work is out of the way.  Building of the water systems are well underway and I have to just keep the projects moving in stride without their technical quality faltering.   In fact with what they seem to have done already anything I help them do will be a quality step up.


I have learned to ride a motorcycle again.  Besides hopping on a little scooter in thailand I haven't actually been on a motorcycle since riding a neighbors mini motor when I was a kid.   I was a bit nervous when I had to do it for the first time but I got into it quickly and am comfortable on it now.  The project requires the car out at the farthest site everyday so i have been riding the motor back and forth from home.   It is a surreal experience to finally ride a motorbike after all the taboo around it and PC.  As I cruise threw some rice patties on the edge of the river up to the community I can't help but have a big smile on my face.


This week we finished the first water tank of three we will build in the end, one in each of the communities.   As it ended the tank is very well build in fact it is over built.  I think a professional could of easily built two tanks of equal size with the cement we used on this one..   Next week we start on the second one in the farthest community, the tank is also the largest one 5m x 6m x 2m. 


Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Wednesday was a very stressful day.  It is not worth going into but involved lots of Timorese, some bad communication, and some unfortunate circumstances.   At the end of the day i came home very tired.  Unlike normal after making dinner and preparing to relax I started to feel a bit scared in my house.   The situation sort of sank in all in one moment.  The fact It was very dark and quiet, no one nearby, a big empty house all by myself, and an unusual silence about the moment.   About an hour later out of no where a large gust of wind began to blow and suddenly there was a large cracking and then a crash outside.  I grabbed my flash light and went for a look.   Still feeling the creepiness I quickly ran outside to find that a large tree had been blown over closing off the drive way and only exit from the house.   Trees falling over is not all that strange but it seemed creey so I ran back inside and locked the door.  I went to sleep and while in a dream I started to have a nightmare where i was being chased.   Suddenly in the dream i started to hear music.  One guitar and whinny singing.  I broke from the dream but still heard the music.   In fact it was coming from right outside the window.  There was also voices I couldn't not understand, more singing, and some breaking of glass for the next hour.   It was after midnight and there were no lights anywhere.  I didn't go outside or shine my flashlight out and could not see any figures.   After and hour they eventually went away.  Hours later I was finally able sleep again just in time for rooster and pig wake up call at 6am.  That day I told my coworker about the night and why I was so tired.  Upon hearing the news he looked like they had a just seen a ghost.  They proceeded to let me know that i live on sacred ground ! The voices and singing were spirits that came to scare me off.  The told me next time they come I should go outside and tell them I am american and I am here to help timor to develop into a powerful nation.   I am not here to cause problems and they should go back to were they came from. 


I think i will pass.  It was probably just some young men drinking and hanging out but who knows.   WoooOOOoooOOooO


Miss ya.  Lv jesse 

Sunday, August 20, 2006


if you are curious.  This is a link to the water and sanitation project I am doing

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This a shot in the opposite direction from my house. What a view. It is dry season but that river does run once the rains start.

this is my new house. you can see it is very dry there.

This is a ok shot from a moving car of a IDP camp in Metenaro 30 minutes east of Dili. Each tent houses about 7 people.


go to and download Skype.  sign in and when ever we are both online at the same time we can talk for free.  my skype name is jesse.shapiro
lv jesse


Touchdown Timor

My arrival was smooth and went off without any delays.  My friend Sarah M who is working at UNICEF and my new boss Cedric met me at the airport.   I was fairly out of it and pretty much astonished to be in Timor again.  There is a clear military presence at the airport although not what I expected.   I think maybe it has been taken down a bit.  There were some Australian soldiers camped there and some military trucks and stuff but not much more.   It was clearly being controlled by them though.  The other noticeable thing at the airport is a refugee camp or IDP (Internal Displaced Peoples) camp.   Every family has got a nice white half cylinder tent.  Which means about 7 to one tent.  It doesn't seem to dirty or crowed but that is only because everyone is off at work during the day.   At night it gets real crowded and fights and such break out. 


After we the left the airport we jumped right into work.  We dropped off Sarah at UNICEF and went straight to a meeting there and then to Triangle's office.   Triangle is a very small NGO here as they only have a couple employees.  There is one main project, which is Water and Sanitation program in three townships, of which I will be the new project manager.   The previous one got sick and is healing in Australia right now.  The project is close to completion in theory and our deadline to finish is the end of October.   My contract is also up October so hopefully the work won't run over but I am pretty sure it will.  Triangle has some other short term things going on and have been trying to add new projects.   They did do a small project with UNICEF in the IDP camps here building a couple wells and latrines. 


So the new acronym here is IDP.  People say it constantly.   It is used to described what would normally be called a refugee.  Apparently since people have not fled to another country but only within Timor they are called IDP not refugees.    There are many camps all over.  There are a couple in Dili at the airport, Don Bosco, and even at the Prime ministers house.   There is a large one about 30 minutes east of Dili near a military base in Metenaro.  Then there a couple more in my old home of Baucau, which I haven't seen yet.   The camps are terrible but people won't leave.  There is two basic reasons.  First is it is still not safe for them to go back to their homes in dili.   The second is I don't think people want to leave because the camps are nicer than there homes.  That is what really makes me sick.   In the camps although it is not nice by any means they do get free water and a place to live.  Humanitarian aid programs are giving them free food as well.   Why would they want to leave.


 I crashed at Cedric's house and we left for laleia my new home the next day.   I think I was only in Dili maybe 12hrs or so and it seemed awful quick but it was probably best.  I now live in a small town of about 1500 on the the road from Dili to Baucau.   It is funny I always though laleia was one of the most beautiful places in Timor and now I am living there.  Although it is in the driest most desolate part of Timor, the northern coastal desert, this town is situated right on a river on a large outcropping of rock.   The town's most standout feature is its giant pink church has definitely been freshly painted.  It is visible from miles away.  


My Tetun has come back no problem.  I had one rough first day but seem right back where I left off.   I am one of two foreigners that live in the town.  The other is a volunteer doctor from Cuba.  My work is to supervise the construction of three water systems.   There are other timorese that I work with that are not quite employees but do receive some type of compensation for the project.  They are responsible to supervise on a more local level and to organize and motivate the communities.   Some of them are also responsible to do some of the work.  The job is perfect.  Exactly what I thought it was going to be doing and what I want.   I get to supervise water and sanitation projects from on site.  All the people have been extremely nice and have taken well to me even though I have only been there a couple days.   The biggest thing I think is I can speak Tetun.  The previous guy can't speak it and only communicated in English which they speak a bit of.   Because I can now not only speak to the other supervisors but can speak directly with the people I think people may start to get more behind the project as it seems there a lull in enthusiasm.   Probably not much happened lately with the other guy getting sick and all. 


This week I was able to jump right in to work and things are starting to go smoothly.  My schedule will be something like I will live there 5 days a week and then come to dili every weekend.  The project has one car, one motor bike, and one bicycle.   Since I am the manager I sort of get my pick although I definitely think about the project first.  When i come to dili I do have a car though.   I got to say it is kind of weird to drive on the other side of the road as well as shift with your left had but I have done ok so far.  Since this is the developing world there are not many rules of the road so i have tried to take it easy so far as I don't want to get into trouble.   There are some military road blocks along the road and a lot of military traffic.  I just get out of the way but because I am a foreigner I won't have any problems


So far i have able to see Sarah M, Sarah W, Erin K, Ann, and Dave all x-Pcers.  I will see Jesse W, austin, and ron later too I think we are going to play some bball.   Anyway I will update again soon.  I hope everyone is well.  Take care.   Lv jesse

Jesse Shapiro
flipflop...not a shoe...a lifestyle.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back in Timor

hey everyone.  I made it in today.  I had no problems on the trip and didn't experience any large delays.  I had one night in Bali yesterday but slept the whole time.  I did walk to the beach this morning for five minutes before i had to get back to the airport.  My boss was at the airport along with one of my good friends from Peace Corps Sarah M.  It was great to see her.  I am back at the office now just taking care of some small stuff.  I will stay in town tonight and tomorrow head out to where I will be living for the next couple months.  I will try and give you an update and more explanation of everything here as soon as I can.  for now I am running around trying to get into the swing of things.  I hope everyone is well.  I am safe and back in Timor.  Talk again soon.  lv jesse

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hong Kong ain't no King Kong

Howdie from China.  I am at the airport in Hong Kong.  I got in a couple hours ago took myself a nap and then just ate myself some delish peanut noodle soup for the airport price of $7.  What a horrible deal.  My next plane for Bali Indonesia leaves within the hour.  I will spend the night there and be in Timor by tomorrow afternoon.  china is pretty even from a airport terminal.  Paz.  lv jesse   

Jesse Shapiro
flipflop...not a shoe...a lifestyle.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peace I'm outta here!

Well today I am on a plane headed for Timor again.  Talk to ya all from Bali, Indonesia.   lv jesse

Jesse Shapiro
flipflop...not a shoe...a lifestyle.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Timor Bound

Well I have made my decision and I am heading back to East Timor.  They want me there ASAP so I am not wasting any time.  I leave on friday, yep only three days from now!  I should arrive in Dili on Monday from Bali.   Yipee! lv jesse

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ene mene mine moe

I got a great job offer to go back to East Timor today to do more Water and Sanitation work. The job would be with an NGO named Triangle.

I also received my Peace Corps invitation today. The invitation is to Vanuatu in the south pacific to teach general consrtuction.

Two hard choices. What do I do?