Art and culture in Dili

Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Where I stayed
Sands Motel

Flag of Timor-Leste  ,
Monday, April 19, 2010

Dili continues to grow on us as we spend more time here – like anywhere, familiarity helps comfort and things are much easier now that we are no longer trying to figure out how to cross the road without getting run down by:

a) 1 of the 5 motorbikes swarming across the entire road, regardless of oncoming traffic

b) The taxi hooting at you in the hope he might pick up a fare

c) The little man with bunches of bananas hanging off a bamboo stick

d) The police

e) The UN Police

f) A pig

g) Some other unidentified white vehicle with UN written on the side

Friday night saw our first social occasion at the EU Embassy – the invitation was to the opening of a new exhibition by a local artist, hosted by the EU Ambassador and opened by the President of East Timor. Unfortunately he had something else on, so instead we were treated to a very long speech in Tetum by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but at least they came round with drinks halfway through. The artist is Maria Madeira – I've never heard of her, but apparently she is a leading light in Timorese art circles, although I discovered she has a habit of standing in between me and the food table.

Saturday saw our move from the Backpackers Hostel to our new home – the room is smaller, but at least it contains some small luxuries like a chair, and best of all – a laundry basket. It's just like being back at home, you throw your clothes into a basket and then the magic pixies come along and clean them. At least that's the theory – what may have happened is that we threw our clothes in to the basket and somebody has stolen half of our wardrobes while we were out – we'll find out this evening whether the pixies have been at work, or whether we will both be going commando for the next 3 months.

All around East Timor, different villages and families have their own styles of weaving (much like Scottish tartan I think) and our cultural expedition of the weekend was to visit Dili Tais market, where these different patterns are all on display in various different forms. The designs were all very varied – ranging from throws in black and red with traditional designs of the salamander on them, to the more popular immigrant designs in red and white with Liverpool FC delicately stitched onto a scarf.
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