Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Timor-Leste, the Reader's Digest Condensed Version

When you return from a trip and somebody asks, eyes all lit up and face all aglow, "So, how was it?!??!" All that person really wants to hear you say is, "Great. It was great."

It makes as much sense as a knock-knock joke:

Excited Inquirer: "Knock-knock!"
Traveler: "Who's there?"
Excited Inquirer: "How was the trip?"
Traveler: "It was really great!"
Excited Inquirer: "Excellent. Now it's your turn to ask me about my life since you left."

But like most knock-knock jokes, the formula keeps getting screwed up by the Traveler, and like all knock-knock joke, screwing up the formula just annoys the Excited Inquirer who will just make you try it all over again until they finally give up and walk away.

[Granted, as a seasoned Traveler, there are times I take deliberate delight in screwing up the formula, just to enjoy watching the annoyed Excited Inquirer decide to leave me happily alone.]

And so, with that in mind, I will summarize my recent travels to Timor-Leste:

Where did you go?

I traveled to Timor-Leste, often known here as East Timor.

Where's that?

It is half of an island that is part of the Indonesian archipelago, but is it's own country. Oops, I see I'm losing your interest. 

It's just north of Darwin, Australia. Still not following the formula?

It's in the South Pacific. Yes, like the musical.

How long did it take you to get there?

Nearly 24 hours in the air.

What did you do there?

Visited a friend/colleague I worked with in Vietnam who is now clinic manager for a local medical clinic in the capital city, Dili.

What stood out most for you?

Two things, and they're related: first was the enthusiastic, dedicated local medical and support staff, Doctor Dan and the other visiting doctors and medical students, and my friend the clinic manager at the Biaro Pite Clinic as they are determined to provide life-saving care to all who pass through their gate.

Second is the determination of the Timorese people, who fought against all odds and terrible genocidal oppression to become their own nation, and who are now actively engaged in proactive democracy and nation-building. 

...wow...I'm going to have to shorten that up.

Okay, it was the warm weather and palm trees on the beaches.

And the fact that they had the Packer game on in Chicago O'Hare on my way back.

What was your biggest disappointment?

That I didn't get to see the Southern Cross again.

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