Yana has arrived! But guess what, as we went to meet her from the airport, it was raining! Usually it just rains for
half an hour or so in the early evening, but today was one of those days when it poured down for the whole day, just like the day when we arrived. But Yana had made it at last from frozen St Petersburg to the tropics, only to be greeted by rain. Yana is my colleague from DLA Piper. Although we had sort of met at a DLA Piper event the previous year, we didn’t really know each other. It didn’t matter: we got on like a house on fire. Just as well, as we are going to work together in the Ministry of Finance of Timor-Leste for the next year. We brought Yana back to the hotel to sample the delights of a tropical life and brought her up to date on life in Timor so far.
We decided it made most sense to share. There are advantages such as travelling together into the office, which is important for Yana as she can’t drive. It’s not really safe to walk a long way on your own at night – the local women don’t like doing it either. This is a change for me too, as I was accustomed to walking home late from the office all the time in Moscow, but I wouldn’t do it here.
On Saturday, Ian and I gave Yana a rapid tour of the best of the houses that we had looked at. We hummed and hahed as to whether we should live further out from the centre right next to the beach (a bit too far out?), or a little bit inland where the apartment was really nicely furnished (no view), or at the other end of Dili altogether (too hard for transport for Yana after a night out on the town). In the end, we picked a house with plenty of
space,a bathroom each and access to a swimming pool. It’s on the beach road, so we have a view out to sea and the island of Atauro. It’s not too far from the office, although it is really too hot to walk there. But it isn’t so far from the Esplanada hotel and the Dili Beachside restaurant, where we know that there is an instant social circle. So today, Sunday, we bundled our luggage into a taxi and we walked from the hotel to the new place. It’s a bit bare and stark, but we can work on making it more homely. Like my flat in Russia, there is no oven (when I first moved into my flat in Moscow, I couldn’t believe it didn’t have an oven tucked away somewhere) and this one only has one hot plate to cook on – I guess everyone here just does stir fries in a wok or a big rice dish in a single pan. But Yana brought a slow cooker from Russia, so we can indulge in borsch and other Russian soups (pace you Ukrainians, I know that borsch is Ukrainian but when Yana makes it, it’s Russian). This afternoon, it’s a trip to the shops to buy all the things we don’t have such as crockery and cutlery and all those essential bits of kitchen equipment, such as a wok or at least a saucepan. We’ll be spending the evening unpacking our suitcases, flicking through the 60 or more channels on TV and generally settling in to our new home.
But first, we really needed to try out the swimming pool, even though it was dark and raining. Well, if you are going to get wet, you might as well get wet.