I am back in Australia….with my head spinning.
It think that it’s important to note that it’s such an interesting experience going from the mountains of Timor one morning to a full fledged modern mall in the afternoon. I felt out of place. Like I didn’t really know exactly where I needed to be, or what I should be doing. This is me sitting at the Pier in Darwin drinking a ‘Pure Blonde’…I guess there’s no better way than to adjust with what you are 🙂
Should I be riding a 100cc scooter up the mountain back to Bakhita -or- calling my mom on my mobile?
It was all very confusing and a bit annoying really, because so much of my heart and soul didn’t want to be in the modern, efficient, glossed over world. It wanted to be in the dirt, running up the stairs, pumping oxygen into babies faces, drinking coffee, embracing who I have become.
So my last day in Timor?
I drank six cups of coffee. I think that my stomach lining was slowly eroding, but that’s ok. I mean…honestly when can you get such amazing coffee? Yeah, that’s right freshly roasted from Timor.
I went down to the clinic and got some coffee from Mana Betty. After lunch, I had to sit down down on this stupid chair in front of everyone.
I mean…I hate sitting down in front of a whole bunch of people. It makes me want to cry. I can’t really handle people telling me how much they’ve appreciated me, etc. I mean, it’s nice to hear..who am I kidding. But seriously I would always say to my mom ‘Mom, you’re not allowed to cry’…because she always cries. Yeah, I get it now.
I sit on this chair, the one which has been the recipient of many stories, laughs, discussions, people who have been at Bakhita for a stint of time. To endure the endless hospitality of the Timorese People and the Bakhita Staff.
Jamie, the Coordinator (Sorry Anders if he has a different title) and Anders stand up about 20 feet away from me. Jaime begins to speak Tetun and it takes about every single ounce of me to not start crying. I mean seriously, I have been here…for my own mission. Reaping so much more from this experience then I could have ever imagined. So much more then I could ever possibly give back. I mean, I tried to fry peanut butter cookies..which didn’t really work. But in all honesty I wanted to run far away, because there was part of me that felt guilty for not being able to give them something, something as great as them sharing their lives with me.
“I just want to say sorry for not having something special for you when you got here. We try to have something special for people when they arrive. So please accept our apologies” states Jaime as per translated by Anders.
My lip was quivering ‘Michelle, don’t cry. Michelle, don’t cry’ I kept saying to myself.
“Thank you for coming to Bakhita Centre. We hope that you’ve enjoyed your time. We would like to present you with this Tais as a small sign of appreciation and hospitality” Jaime says.
“Obrigadu” is what I could muster up without losing it. The cry was in the back of my throat with the realisation that it was the end. No more pretending that tomorrow wasn’t going to come. It was here..smack dab in my face.
“We also know that you love the coffee, so here’s some coffee from us at Bakhita” Jaime says
(This is Bakhita’s and Mana Betty’s)
Then there was silence. 10 people staring at me. The Tais around my neck, the coffee in my hands with the scent intoxicating me as the tears poured.
I opened my mouth. Nothing, just a mini-meltdown.
“Dang it! You got me to cry” I stamped out. Looking straight at Anders as a translator, perhaps an attempt to gain composure, to try and give them the honest opinion of my time. To try and convey with words the richness and depth of my experience without looking like a crazy.
“I want to say thank you to everyone. Thank you for everything. This has been the best experience of my life. I will be back” I squeeze out through the tears.
Anders translates. I keep crying.
I gather myself together..mentally…and barrel down the mountain..one last time on the scooter. Anders..thanks for not killing me. You didn’t even crash into anything…or bump….
Vaughn, Donna, Anders and I went out for dinner at Victorias. It was awesome. You actually went to the back to pick out the freshly caught fish that you want to eat. We had a fantastic time.
Then we headed over to the Dili Beach Hotel. It was as if I was in Perth. Everyone was pretty much Malae (Ma-Lie) or foreigners. It totally did my head in. It was so weird to see Wimbledon on TV, to hear vomiting in the sink, to see people get into a fight. I wanted to go back to Bakhita. I wanted to run back..scoot back…mini-bus back… I was so uncomfortable. It’s just not my scene in Timor or outside of Timor. Just not my thing.
We all got into the back of a taxi. Donna was on my lap. Great memories.
“Anders, I don’t want to go home!” I said sadly
“Then don’t!” he said back
Is it really that simple? Is life that simple to just say…nope not doing it any more. Are we so consumed with that ‘What If’s’ or the Obligations/Guilt/Difficulty that we stay complacent?
That night I dreamt of Bakhita, wake up sad because I realised that in the morning I wouldn’t be able to see the cute dogs, inhale fire smoke in the kitchen, practice my tetun, etc. I got on the plane and had to go to the bathroom and have a bit of a cry.
I am so intensely happy it’s overwhelming. So intensely at peace with who I am. I am learning more about the strength of who I am, what I want, where I want to be, what I need from the world and what I want to give back.
I have to admit that when I got back to my little studio flat it felt nice to be back ‘home’. However, the endless search for the capacity to give back and feel fulfilled is what I am in search for. I am so happy that I have 3kg of coffee and the Tais on my couch as a constant reminder of the place that allowed me to find myself again.