On Wednesday I did another NGO flight from Dili to Los Palos, 2 passengers were from Australian Volunteers International, and 3 were from Marie Stopes International. Los Palos is about 50 mins from Dili, but in the opposite direction than Oecusse. It was an uneventful flight until we arrived overhead where we saw two cars on the airstrip. No problem, I thought, if they don’t get off, I’ll just buzz them so that they move. Well move they did. They moved further up the airstrip, but not off it. Bah! Okay, another I’ll have to buzz them again. This time one drove back and well off the strip, the other moved further up again, but fortunately was on the part that we don’t use anymore because it’s too rough. Third time lucky… on late finals, there are still about 5 kids in the middle of the airstrip, fortunately (for them?) they ran off to the side just as I crossed the threshold to land. My first concern was to get a Tetun speaker on my flight to yell at the kids to let them know that they need to be well away from the strip when the plane is landing.
Pretty soon there was about 15 kids who came and sat down a short distance away from the plane and when the passengers left to do their business I was left with just the kids and an old man who spoke no English what so ever, neither did the kids. As the kids showed no sign of leaving, it slowly dawned on me that I was on baby sitting duties for the next three and a half hours while I waited for the passengers to return. My first task was to befriend the old man (whom I had met once before on my last trip to Las Palos) by making him an espresso with my hand held espresso maker (this message brought to you by Handpresso). Instant friend for life! Ha, now I just have to find out his name… I think it was something like Domingus.
Anyway, the kids started showing more interest in me and the plane, to the point that I had to sit down with them and speak my limited Tetun with them, armed with just my Tetun-English dictionary. It was going well for a while, but as time passed, the kids became increasingly “bulak” – crazy. It was only half an hour before the passengers came back that I finally told the kids to “baa uma” – go home. Finally. The old man and I sat together in silence, drinking in the serenity. That was until a Timorese Jehovah’s Witness came along and wanted some photos with the plane (Sigh).
Consequently from the last two days, I feel like my Tetun has improved a lot which is encouraging. Today isn’t half as exciting – I’m the office lady. Although, wearing this short skirt… hmm…