The second week

Friday, day 12

This second week has gone incredibly quickly. Tetun classes everyday, then various errands to run in the afternoons. The gentle, settling-in routine of last week has disappeared already – I haven’t had any chance to play music on the verandah and sing songs with the neighbourhood children. I think they miss this too – every time any one of them sees me, he or she starts singing Ah, ram sam sam, ah ram sam sam goolly goolly goolly goolly goolly ram sam sam… doing the actions. Even their parents – working on the block of land the church is on, chopping down trees and exposing the water pipes (the men) or nursing the youngest children (the women), join in sometimes with the chorus. But I am always on my way somewhere else, and have to hope that an enthusiastic wave and call of Bondia or Botardi will be sufficient temporary response. It feels a bit thin to me, admittedly. How did I get to be in such a busy routine so quickly? Answer: visa extension.

These last two days I’ve been tackling the issue of getting a visa extension. I need my 30 day tourist visa to be turned into something longer. To do this, I’ve the opportunity of a helping hand from the Ministry of Culture, with whom my project is registered, and who can write a letter of support for a visa extension. This week, therefore, I’ve met with the Ministry of Culture people on two separate afternoons, and queued at the Department of Immigration in order to get the forms that I need to fill out to apply for the extension.

At this afternoon’s meeting, I learned that there is probably a form missing that the Minister of Culture needs to sign, in addition to the letter of support they have written. This means another visit to the Department of Immigration office, first thing Monday morning, then a return visit to the Ministry of Culture to pick up the signed letter and hopefully get the new form (if it exists) filled out and signed on the spot, then a further return trip to the Department of Immigration to hand in all this paperwork.

I don’t live near that part of town, and I’ve found the last few days to be quite exhausting, travelling in the afternoon heat to the various offices, after finishing an intense morning of language classes. I’ll be very happy to finish the process next week. I am supposed to be leaving Dili for Baucau next week, but I’m not going to head off until the visa extension application is submitted and in the process of being processed.

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