p1090859smallTimor-Leste has been our home for nearly a year now! We feel settled here, but there are still many surprises living here. Some of these events are positive, like finding favorite foods in the supermarket or getting an unexpected email from a friend. Some surprises are not so great, making it harder to complete daily roles. And some surprises are just different ways of doing life as we live with people from many different cultures. I’ve been reflecting upon some of these surprises today, and upon the fact that this surprising nature of life here is what makes this place simultaneously great and but also a challenging place to be.


So here’s a few of the things that have surprised me this week…

Sam can read billboards

The man selling mobile phone ‘pulsa’ who is always outside the supermarket, suddenly isn’t there.

The box i often look at in another supermarket, which has Portuguese writing on it, actually contains microwave popcorn.

Surprise that mosquito bite on Sam’s leg has turned into an infected volcano of puss. So very gross.

You cannot buy a cute looking baby doll anywhere in Dili. Well at least not in the six shops we went to.

Cream cheese doesn’t go so well on pizza. It doesn’t melt!

Chasing dogs out of the pig yard in the mornings.

Chasing pigs back into their yard when they escape into ours.

Finding a dead baby chick in the driveway that was squashed by our car or motorbike the previous night.

Discovering that we still have all the pieces to the Lego campervan, a year later.

Jason and I managed to order lunch in Tetun for thirty five people tomorrow… we think. I’ll let you know for sure tomorrow. (Yes we did manage it!)

Powerpoints work when they want to. Or maybe it’s the power charger that is fickle.

People can send an email scheduling important meetings with only 24 hours notice and expect you to be there.

Colour photocopying is easy to do here.

My son drawing pirate scars on his legs in bright red texta.

Onions which are 50 US cents each. Pineapples which are $5 US.

Realising that as Aussies we don’t really have a traditional costume for Sam to wear in a cultural parade. Do i need to buy him a Socceroos shirt?

Going out to eat after church for $4 each for Malaysian satay sticks and rice. Mmmmmm.

The eagerness to eat green mangoes.

Needing the air conditioner in September.


Discovering that you can freeze playdough.

Seeing Japanese sailors walking around town.

The places where ants live in my house. Like along the washing line, in the gas elements on the stove and in the joins of the bench top.

Finding out i have most of Sam’s size 6 clothes, thanks to hand me downs from friends and a few gifts from family.

That when a fly is bothering us during a meal, Jason can successfully manage to kill it with a flick and have it land in one of our plates of food. Gross but true!

Using your little bit of Tetun really does make a difference!

Door frames with big holes in the timber from white ants.

People who bring their nanny with them to church to care for the children.

Mice who like to eat chicken stock, but not all the yummy things in your cupboard.

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No cheese in town for about a month. So forced to experiment with plastic substance with cheese flavour added, which SURPRISE SURPRISE tastes horrible and doesn’t melt! But you refuse to throw it away because you paid good money for it. Unfortunately though unmeltable, yucky tasting plastic cheese is hard to disguise and hide in cooking.

Cream cheese, which is available in town at the moment, works well in lasagne cheese sauce.

With all this talk and thought involving cheese at the moment, no surprise really, that i found myself dreaming about cheese on toast this week.

Surprise, Zucchinis are available again. Second surprise, onions are hard to find. Must by some and chop them up and freeze them before the bi-annual onion shortage occurs again.

Sam read his library book last week by himself.

Make the same recipe and sometimes it works better than expected, and other times…. surprise…fail!

Opening a can of anchovies, which was bulging from pressurisation and it splashes fishy anchovy oil into my face, on my glasses and in my freshly washed hair! Ewwwww! Time for another shower.

Yes there is a bus trying to turn around in your drive way. Not a van, or a mini van, but a full sized country going bus.

My ten dollar laminator finally died! I’m surprised it lasted three years really!

Rain in September!

Jason calling in to visit me at Hera, as he went exploring on the motorbike on his day off.

The people who want to have their photo taken with you, in the park, at the shops and in the swimming pool.

Surprise! Your water company has gone out of business. Have to buy your second favorite type of water. Surprise, can’t find that one anywhere this week. Will need lots of lemon or cordial to disguise the taste of the yucky filtered water this week.