Wednesday, day 31
We have just had 2 days of ‘Loron Boot’ – (literally ‘big days’) that are holy days when most things are closed and everyone spends time at the cemetery and at church, honouring and remembering the dead of their family. Therefore, today has been my first day in Lospalos when I’ve been able to meet with government and NGO people who are relevant to my residency.
Mana Er and I spent an active morning meeting up with these people today. We started at the Ministry of Education and Culture, where we had a very positive and productive conversation with the senior man there. I talked about the composing work that I do with children, and he asked lots of questions about numbers of participants, age groups, and so on. One of the things I have been concerned about is the practicality of making projects happen in the school holidays – essentially my time in Lospalos coincides exactly with school holidays! But today I learned that Sr Abilio was quite relieved that I wasn’t trying to do something in November or February, as those months were already choc-a-block full of activities. I told him about my idea for creating an event of some kind at the end of January, and seeing if we could invite people from Dili to travel to Lospalos in order to attend (and at the same time enjoy a weekend in this beautiful part of the country), and he was quite excited about this.
For me, I was thrilled to learn that Sr Abilio runs a traditional music and dance ensemble. I explained that I was particularly interested in learning to play traditional instruments, and he seemed very open to me joining in with their rehearsals – they meet three afternoons a week.
Thus I am starting to see a schedule of some kind present itself, where I can spend my mornings working with groups, on projects that run for up to five days in a row, and some afternoons with Sr Abilio’s group, and others on my own at home, developing work and ideas further.
We met with two other local NGOs as well, and I am starting to see it could all get very busy, very quickly!
At this stage though, I am only in Lospalos for a few more days. On Saturday I go back to Baucau, then on Sunday afternoon I am back in Dili. I am getting back a couple of days before my scheduled flight back to Melbourne as I am still to collect my visa extension and passport from the Immigration office – it seemed prudent to allow extra time to ensure that I get this well before heading to the airport!