Tuesday, May 31, 2011

timor, indonesia, haiti

Last year I lived on three tropical islands. Three of the most beautiful places on earth. Three of the neediest countries on earth. Ah, but what a lovely life I lived.

While I don't have any intention of moving back to any of those places, increasingly, I will feel nostalgic about one or some of them.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about diving. I am not a diver, but I know that Timor Leste is supposed to be one of the world's gems of diving. A pang of homesickness hit me as I remembered the time I dropped a friend off at a dive centre for her day's excursion. The dive centre was in the same facility as a posh restaurant where I had an inspiring business meeting. The restaurant was overlooking the pristine blue sea, with palm trees framing the view. And so on and so forth.

Below is, what I just realised, the ONLY photo I took at the beach in Timor! This is not from the restaurant I was thinking of above, but this one was possibly my favourite joint in town. They'd serve me coffee press coffee right on the beach. (Just google image search "Timor Leste" for some better photos!)

I can't remember right now what brought back memories of Indonesia. Someone asked me if it's a nice place, but I can't remember who was asking. I think they asked because I told them that I absolutely adored working in Indonesia. I had the best colleagues who were so kind and so motivated and so on top of their game. And, yes, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is, of course, the world's largest archipelago so it's not really fair to generalise. I lived in West Sumatra, home of the semi-famous Lake Maninjau. Click that link and take a moment to ponder that I took that photo with my unimpressive phone camera. Yeah, beautiful is an understatement.

I didn't have to take any photos in Sumatra, because one of my colleagues is a brilliant photographer who loves to share. I love this photo she took of me in the rice fields next to the Lake, about a half hour from the hotel-turned-office where we worked and lived. We were helping people build temporary houses to live in after their houses were destroyed in a major earthquake. What a lovely place, and a lovely people.

Then, just this evening, I was chatting with a former colleague who is currently in Haiti. It was a brief chat, but in the course of our conversation, she reminded me of the amazing house where I lived, some awesome colleagues, and the great food! Haiti is full of contrasts and those contrasts just increase the searing pain of life on that half of the Espanhola island. It's an exhausting, intense place to be. But so full of life, perhaps the most 'full of life' place I've lived in for a very long time.

All my friends on Facebook who live in Haiti are active posters of photos so I never felt the need to take my own. But I just realised that I DID take a few photos, for an assessment we were doing in a rural area regarding people's needs in water and sanitation. Great fun, right? But here's one photo to share... see how full of life these kids are? I miss that. And the food.


Oh what I wouldn't do right now for some Haitian food, on a Timorese beach, with my Indonesian colleagues... Or some posh food from a Timorese restaurant with some friends from Haiti in the Sumatra mountains... Or just to get to magically visit each place for a few hours.

10 comments:

happygirl said...

My favorite memory of Haiti was the poinsettias growing EVERYWHERE and all RED. Brilliant. I went there on a vacation, so I wasn't exactly a humanitarian, but I did spend money. I'm so glad you are safe and remembering good times. A woman posted a link from cnn saying Egyptian women arrested at a demonstration this spring are being given "virginity tests" to prove they are not virgins. This so they cannot accuse the authorities of rape. The article has more disturbing accounts in it and it frightens me for your safety.

Cathy said...

You revisit these places with the words your share with us, your astonished, grateful readers. Be well. Stay safe.

Brian Miller said...

nice...you have been many places i wish to travel...have a great friend that is working in an orphanage in haiti right now...possibly going to africa this summer though...

Nancy said...

Fresh press coffee on the beach--must taste like heaven on earth. Thanks for sharing these words and pictures of places many of us will never see firsthand. They are lovely.

Anna said...

Clicked on the link and Lake Maninjau is indeed gorgeous! Thank you for sharing these places. It's an interesting thought to think of all friends/places/people merging in a place... I've done that before, too.

David N. said...

Um, I drove to Indiana a few weeks ago...That's about the best I can do for now!

alittlebitograce said...

I enjoy "globe-trotting" through your stories. :)

becky said...

The coffee house picture looks exactly like one I experienced in Belize :) Placencia, Belize.

emily wierenga said...

i adore your posts. they make me feel as though i've traveled--without the jet lag :) and i LOVE that photo of you in the rice fields. YOU look so full of life!

Rachel said...

The last picture is so adorable, thanks for sharing your experiences and pictures.

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