Monday, May 17, 2010

Cynthia's thoughts

Things that have changed since last time

• heaps more birds! lots of little sparrows, some large hawks, just can hear birds singing in the mornings - lovely. We really missed them last time, and as we were preparing to leave the government launched an education thing about not killing birds, and protecting them, and banning slingshots.

• A few of the "kiosks" (the local corner stores or windows of every 7th house:) ) now have fridges and sell cold drinks, and a few even have freezers with frozen meat etc! WOW!

We went to hera today (Tue 11th May) so Samuel could build the shelves at Sorayas school. We took Anen from next door. On the way we also took 2 neighbours who travel every day to Hera to go to Uni. The main road over the hill has been closed for quite a while, with landslips and mudslides. So the longer coast road has been in constant use by trucks and buses. With a very long wet 'wet season' the conition of the coast road has been deterioating regulary. Today at the worst spot we had to drive through about 80cm water. Our little truck is very low so the water sprayed up all around us. The number plate got bent up at the front and a mudguard broke a little more.

We arrived at the school and Samuel and Anen, along with another helper, began to unload the truck and start building. I sat in the principals office (Sorayas desk area) and went through some schoolwork with Serenity for an hour or so. Israel did some activity sheets with 4 year old Sofia (Sorayas adopted daughter). Then Branca took me and the kids back to their house to do some more school, play and eat.

When we sat down to lunch they said that some vehicles were starting to get through on the hill road, so in the afternoon we decided to give it a try. We picked up an elderly woman and her granddaughter who were trying to get to Dili. Half way up the hill we got to the bad patch where a machine had been working. Unfortunately it had rained lightly in the afternoon so the soft dirt surface had become a slippery slide. Our first attempt didnt get very far, so Samuel reversed a fair distance, and then he and Anen thought to fill the back of the truck with rocks to give some weight to the rear driving wheels. We got a bigger run up, and Samuel put the pedal to the medal. Off we went! bumping, squealing (me) and revving the poor little engine. The truck got slower and slower but we crept up towards the last bend, and finally made it back onto the tar. Praise the Lord!

Over the top of the hill and around a bend we came upon a short line of trucks and a bus. We first assumed they were empty and drove past them, but as we drove past them some men below at the bend waved us back and we realised that they were waiting for some dare devil desperate vehicles trying to make it up the hill. The road here was a muddy mess on a sharp right hand steep bend. So we reversed behind the bus and began to wait. There seemed to be endless wave of hands to say wait another vehicle is coming. First a microlet (van-minibus-holding up to 25 people at a time) came around the bend slipping and sliding and amazingly churned its way up hill followed by the crowd of passengers picking their own way through the mud. Then a 4wd would slowly come through, then a long wait, then the road working machine would get into place and chain itself to a stuck vehicle and pull it through the whole section, then another 4wd, then the machine pulled another vehicle - a 4wd with a driver who thinks the 4wd is broken because they dont know that you actually need to turn the knobs on the wheels. After they were pulled through Samuel ran up to them to try to educate them- not sure if they believed him (broken broken!) He even turned one himself and tried to show them, but by then thankfully they had stopped the hour long parade of up vehicles and now decided that the down vehicles could have their turn.

I forgot to mention that when we first stopped to wait we could all hear a hsssss sound like gas escaping. Of course the truck has no gas.... So the hsssss was the water escaping from the radiator - perhaps the strain of the uphill journey had forced a small leak into a major hole. So Anen and Samuel quickly filled it with about 3 litres of water. It had become completely empty! After we got down the hill and back to Dili (a few 100m) we stopped again and put a bit more in. Oh the joys. I felt a bit sorry for the old lady and her granddaughter (and also by this time another male relative perched in the back of the tray), as the trip had been quite eventful for them, but needless to say when we dropped them off where they wanted to go, she very sincerely opened her purse to give us the few coins it would have cost by microlet! We waved it aside, and i took it to mean that the trip mustnt have been too shocking for her.

Back home, and all the neighbouring young men hovered around to assist Samuel remove the radiator. Including digging the earth away to slide it out. One of them is studying to be a mechanic and up until this time had not even touched a car! He was keen to be involved so Samuel gave him a bit of time and let him have a go at soldering up the hole. Of course it was evening by the time we arrived home so most of the work was done by torch. I (in my generosity) offered to let them bring the radiator onto the dining table so they could use the bright light from the $8 aussie globe we bought – the brightest light in the house.

In the evening Samuel was chatting to Anen about the house project at Los Palos. He knew of a local (someone from Beto Tasi,) who had previously worked for an Aussie owned company and who had learned a few of the more desirable skills in regards to laying concrete blocks. Samuel was very interested as he really wants the block laying to be straight and even. Knowing that the following morning he needed to do lots of things –like reinstall the radiator, and buy supplies etc, he ducked off with Anen to visit this brick layer at 9:30pm. Considering our neighbours are often asleep soon after 9pm, I firstly voiced my concerns, Samuel was still keen, so then I uttered a few prayers that he would still be awake.

God answered, and Samuel returned excited. Carlos (the bricklayer) was quite willing to work at the distant location of Los Palos, and could even visit the place this Friday with Samuel to start on the foundations. Praise God! A nice way to end a long eventful day.

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