Sunday, September 24, 2006

The car accident. I took this only after we had rolled the car over.

Some graffiti in Dili. "Timor ida deit" (There is only one Timor) a response to the current fracture between east and west.

Installing pipe over Samali the smallest village with the school and soccer field in the back ground

My crew of 48. Sand and cement comes from lower left and up to the tank by bucket passed hand to hand.

Car accident

bondia.  Things are well as usual.  The project is proceeding well.  We finished the tank walls and I am quite happy that none of the forms burst open so we will have perfect walls.  Now that the walls are done and the tank has taken its shape you can really feel the size of it.  It is enormous definitely the largest thing I have ever built.  When we poured the cement for the second half of the walls we had the largest crew of timorese to date.  I ran a crew of 48, hopefully not to many people stood around smoking.  I was on them hard and made them all work.  It went well except we ran out of plates at lunch and had to eat in two shifts.  My contract is up in only two more weeks but I will extend to finish the project or at least the water tanks as they really need me.  For now that brings me to sometime in November.   
The only other thing that happened this week was on the way out to the project last monday.  As I went slowly through a spot on the road covered with water another whom was trying to pass for a couple kilometers decided to go around me and proceeded to get stuck in the mud.  Another car and I both stopped and helped him out of the mud.  He seemed in a rush and instantly took off after a quick thank you.  I got back in my car a continued down the road.  5 minutes later around a blind corner I see a man standing on the side of the road pointing over the edge.  I stopped to find that the same car we pushed out of the mud came around the corner to wide hit some gravel and flew off the edge.  The car dropped 10ft over the ledge and rolled twice.  The guy inside was not injured except a small scrape on his arm.  the other car came and we went down to check the car.  We found a tree impelled through the windshield and stuck straight through the drivers seat.  I don't know how it missed the guy but luck was definitely on his side.  We helped him with his stuff, rolled the car over, called the police, and was again on my way.
Ok.  Have a good week.  Miss ya.  lv jesse

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

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The truck after felling an intire forest for wood to support the tank forms.

Inside the tank preparing the forms to pour the upper half of the wall.

The water tank in Cairui

Cairui from the water tank above to village.

hash run

bondia!  another week has gone by after hard work in the dry hot sun.  This week started off on the wrong foot as I left Dili last week without the key to the house in Laleia.  I was then able to stay with the head of the water committee in laleia which was nice and reminded a lot of my host family in Baucau.  I finally was able to make it out the job site the next day after borrowing motorcycle and was able to start work again.  Since there is so much to do now on the project and vincent is back we have split up responsibilities.  I have been managing primary the water tank construction which means long days in the hot sun.  I started to get a great farmers tan and my hair has turned blond again on the top.  I bought a Timorese grass hat which I think looks a bit silly but the timorese love it and says I look great.  It is a bit like a Vietnamese hat although flairs up near the edges.  anyway it serves its purpose well and keeps my face in the shade.  I went back to Baucau again this week and spent another week with the fam.  It was good and I think I will continue to try and get there every weekend since I live so close.  I got into Dili on Saturday just in time to join in on the East Timor hash run.  If anyone is clueless on what that is don't feel bad as I didn't know what it was either until I was doing it.  I thought it was just a group going for a jog.  Not to simplify it too much but it is more like a fraternity for people who want fit exercise into their drinking regiment.  It is very social and fun.  You basically run in a group around the city following marks on the road.  The marks are scarce and usually result in the group breaking up at intersection to find the right direction.  We ran through yards toxic drainage ditches and over barbed wire.  The Timorese watched with extended jaws as they couldn't possibly understand what was happening.  Heck I barely got it.  Upon the finish after being well dehydrated the group proceeds to drink as much as possible.  They have a song and a bit of ceremony which coerces the shy into taking part.  Since it was my first time I also had a mentor who ran with me a pried for dirty secrets which were then told to the group at the end with a bit of exaggeration.  Erin and Sarah also had a house warming party at their new house near tibasi.  It was a good time and I even won the best guest prize which consisted of taking home two beers and the leftover chicken.  Score!  This morning is busy then I am back out to the project.  We are pouring cement again tomorrow as the tank nears completion.  Two more weeks and it should be done.  Then only one more to go.  My contract is up soon so hopefully can fit it in before then.  I have started to think about an extension or looking for a new job.  I don't know yet what I want but will definitely want something that will be good for finding a research topic to finish my master's degree.  Ok talk next week.  take care.  lv jesse 

Sunday, September 10, 2006


This week has been good.  Vincent came back and we went out the project together.  He is still not one hundred percent and has trouble on the bad roads.  Because of this I think I will still have to run most of the day to day project activities while he will focusing on the organization part especially since our boss has gone on vacation to France for three weeks.  Things are going well and we should be drilling some wells soon and finishing up with bulk of the project before my contract is up.  I had a good weekend in dili.  went to the beach and ate tons of good food.  the security situation is normal.  sorry not much else to report this week. 
This week on "Living in a Dili"
While biking through Dili I got passed by two tanks on the street.  you know the giant metal boxes that don't have tires but run on rotating metal teeth.  I thought to myself.  That was awesome and wow they can really go fast.  Then the relative difference between me on a bike with only as much as a helmet and sandals vs the Australian troops in the tank with full battle gear and giant guns that could probably survival a direct hit by a bomb really sank in and I got a bit scared but kept peddling.       
Miss ya.  lv jesse

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

Monday, September 04, 2006

Before shot.

The line of people passing cement in buckets up the hill to the tank.

Pouring the floor slab.

Tying rebar. many mentioned they were in prision

My version of the famous photo black and white from empire state building. kids sitting watching at the end of a long day

The minister and his entourage in Cairui one the places we are building a water system.

here they are in my truck

My two host brothers playing with their new toys I brought

take a closer look. Ya that is a guy selling a half carcass of a monkey from his bike

Arrival of the Minister

The Dili Sunset viewed from ron's veranda

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Baucau visit

Kids on the job site

There is little control on a job site here in the undeveloped world.  This must mostly be due to the fact that there is nothing like insurance or liability.  Except that it is always the person who is perceived to have the most money who is at fault.   Actually this might be true in the states as well.  Anyway here with every adult comes at least two others under the age of about 15.  It is extremely annoying as they have very little skill level or strength, they insist and be involved in everything,  they are constantly messing around, and they have no handle on responsibility.   I am not sure there is anything to do about it.  It is the culture here that children are involved in everything.    They only back off slightly when yelled at and at least they are a bit more scared of me.  Especially if I yell which I don't enjoy, it just isn't my style.


Minister coming

On Friday night the Minister for electricity, water, and natural resources travelled out to Cairui to visit the town and meet with the people.   He brought the message that the road from laleia to Cairui will be improved soon and that electricity is not near in their future.  They are still looking into different options because it is so far out.   He also came to see the water and sanitation system we are building.  I helped to show him around as we walked through parts of the system.   He is a very friendly man and speaks excellent english.  His wife who is american actually has more of an acent than him.  Also with the Minister was a new advisor, a british man from the Water, Engineering, and Development Centre (WEDC).   He was very interesting to talk to.  Here talks with a lot of experience and gave us a couple good suggestions for our water system.   


Baucau visit

This week I finally made it back to Baucau and was able to visit my host family.   As I walked in only my host mom was there and she about had a heart attack.  Turns out they had gotten all my emails and sort of knew I would be showing up sometime.   Later that day my host dad came home and I hid.  My host mom told him someone had come that she didn't know but then got sick and was sleeping in my old room.   When he opened the door I jumped out and gave him a big hug.  He about fell over as well.  They family is all doing very well.   The same day I showed up Baucau finally got 24hr a day electricity.  My family had also saved up there mone a bought a mini fridge.  My mom always has been the most motivated in the family has started three small businesses.   She sells fried bananas, flavored ice, and now firewood.  All of the flowers I had planted, my first gardening experience, are still alive and thriving.    I was only there for one night but had time and saw all the rest of the extended family as well. 


I am sort of surprised and sort of not but most of my stuff was barely touched.   Even after I had given them the go ahead by email when I thought that I was not coming back.  They took all the money or food I left of course and anything extremely useful light a flashlight or my machete.   But most of my clothes, all my books, my mosquito dome, and basically everything else was there.  I took all the clothes and books in one of my bags that was still there with me.   Even my $200 dollar work boots that I have yet to wear once and now have a real use for were there untouched.  In a country that where people will wear rubber boots as everyday shoes all my shoes were still there.


At least three different people I knew in Baucau told me they all have dreams about me exactly one week before I came back and they new I must be on my way back.   Weird eh.  People were really surprised I was back especially as I showed up in a car.  They were all very disappointed though as I couldn't stay in Baucau.   They had a hard time understanding that I had to live somewhere else for work as that was the only reason I was able to return.  They kept telling me I could drive the hour to laleia everyday.   Hey, there is no way I am coming to come Timor and be the only one with a commute to work.  Forget that.


Peace Corps

I went by PC headquarters here in dili this morning.  What a site it was.   The timorese had a giant bon fire blazing in the front yard as they were burning all the government documents.  It made me feel kind of weird to see it.   I walked around a bit and ran into Domingos who gave me a big hug.  I also saw Nina who maybe acknowledge me as she walked by.   There was also one of the staff members from Thailand there shutting it down.  Everything is boxed up.  The volunteer lounge is cleared and everything is not being sold as one rumor had it but is being given to the embassy.   There is only a bit of mail left mostly for Jessica and Joel. Joel I think you got some bills here or something. They said they would send it to your home of record.   I asked about the bikes and they said I could have one.  In fact they gave me two.  Since I got a truck I took them then and there.   I also got one water filter, 2 bike helmets, and the framed picture of TL-4 swearing in on the front page of the Timor Sun.  They wouldn't give me any others as they said the embassy wanted them.   I guess my group isn't good enough for the embassy. 


As for my stuff.  The peace corps did in fact go by my house in Baucau and were able to pick up what I specified which was nothing.   But they got the water filter and my med kit.  I assume this means they went by everyone elses house and did the same but actually got your stuff.   It seems they have mailed it already.  The letters we wrote to be given to our families were never dilevered and therefore the keys inside were also never given to them.   In my case Belun had to cut the lock to get my bike from my house in Baucau and my host family had to break into my room. 


Escaping from prison

I don't know if Timor has made it back into the new back in US but a couple things have happened recently in Dili that aren't encouraging.   This week we had a couple people shot in a IDP camp during a fight.  The initial reports said it was the police that shot but turns out they don't know who it was but definitely not the police.   We also had a prison break of maybe 14 people including Alfredo.  They got away and may have weapons.  I am still safe as I dont spend much time in Dili.  I am also a foreigner which aren't targeted.  I also avoid going out at night or to places where all the trouble usually happens.   There is also the normal daily fights and stone throwing in the camps.



The engineer I replaced because he got sick is coming back today.  Vincent will arrive this afternoon.  I am excited to meet him as I have been trying to fill his shoes since he left.  I have heard all about him from the Timorese and some foreigners in Dili.   The foreigners only mention nice things whereas the Timorese only mention the bad stuff. 


The project is going well as we are moving faster now.  We have started building the largest tank last week.   We met all our goals and poured the floor and have built all the forms for the walls.  We will start there this week.   Everything is coming out well and the Timorese have started listening to me more as they begin to trust me.