Language as food and other miscellaneous things

The Sprog is coming across a lot of Tetun speakers in her life.

What is Tetun? It’s the language of Timor-Leste. It’s one of the official languages (the other being Portuguese, though people say that most of the population can’t speak it fluently).

Our nanny speaks Tetun. Our cleaner speaks Tetun. Our driver speaks Tetun. The staff on our estate speak Tetun. People in shops speak Tetun.

So we have been trying to reinforce to the Sprog the bare minimum of words in order to show her respect to the people who help her out in everyday life (i.e. the people she annoys the crap out of, day in, day out!)

The problem is that the Sprog doesn’t quite get her pronunciation right at times.

The word for thank you is ‘Obrigada’ (for women). The Sprog, however, says, ‘Avocados’.

The word for goodbye is ‘Adeus’. The Sprog, however, says, ‘Have a juice’.

I was despairing to a mum from the school about the Sprog’s inability to hear me distinguish between ‘Obrigada’ and ‘Avocado’.

The mum said, ‘At least it’s not as bad as my kids. Instead of Obrigada, they used to say “Bicardi”. No reflection on my drinking habits, of course.’

Ah kids.


Harrie’s eye colour…

More or less since the newborn sheen wore off, there has been no mistaking what colour the Sprog’s eyes are.
No filters on this people. They are BLUE. Very BLUE. We were VERY surprised by this – perhaps we shouldn’t have been. I come from blue/green eyes, but the Mr comes from brown eyes – in fact, his dad is Chinese. And his mum has brown eyes.

So BLUE eyes and light brown/blondey hair on our first born was a surprise. Then along came Harrie, who (naively says the second time mum) surprised us with her differences to the Sprog. Her skin tone, her face shape, her hair colour. Everything. But for a while, we did think her eyes were going to be blue too. Just more of a grey blue, like mine. But in recent times, we have not been so sure. I mean, is it possible to have GREY eyes? Because that’s what Harrie’s eyes look like sometimes. Just steely grey.

Other times a little bit of green. (There’s no denying a green background helps in this instance).

I feel like I NEED to figure out what colour they are. Some people say “Labels aren’t important”. Bugger that. Labels all the way for me, peeps! “Very cute” is one label I will give Harrie. But I also want to be able to slap a definitive eye colour on her. What do you think? Blue? Grey? BlueGrey? Green? GreenGrey? On their way to brown?

I have no idea.



*The only edits these pics received were crops. 

An expat week

Last week was what I’ll just call an ‘expat’ week.

It’s the kind of week I had semi-frequently in Ukraine and I’ve certainly expected them here too. After a month in the country, I closed up shop. Went all introverted and emo, and just shut myself off from the world as much as possible.

I’m not sure what triggered it in this case, but it could have just been the fact that it’s been a month and perhaps subconsciously I was like, “OK, time for a breather”. I don’t know.

Unfortunately, it’s harder to deal with this semi-depressed / culture shock / homesick state when you have two children. And a nanny who is here daily and thus a witness to my self-indulgent behaviour.

In Ukraine, the Mr always knew when I was on a downer because he would come home at 9pm and I would be on the couch with empty chip and chocolate packets next to me, under a doona, watching reruns of ‘Location, Location, Location’ while it snowed outside, and there would be no dinner cooked. And I would usually burst into tears when I saw him and cry about how someone was mean to me in a store, bumped me in the street, couldn’t understand what I needed at the bank, or mocked my Russian pronunciation at the markets.

Here, I don’t have those excuses. Firstly, the path I tread in Dili is very much geared towards English or Portuguese speaking expats (or both). It’s been a UN post for 10 years now, it’s a small city with a small population and the UN contract here has been extensive, so the effects of outsiders on the country seem to be very far reaching. There are still small misunderstandings, but nothing major like our phone or power being cut (as happened in Ukraine a few times because I didn’t understand how to pay the bill).

Still, it’s a different country and it takes energy when out and about because things are still foreign – even just figuring out what to cook with the ingredients that can (and can’t) be found here is a bit confounding at times. Not to mention the fact that I don’t have an oven or a grill.

So last week I retreated into myself a bit. I watched a lot of movies and TV, read a few books and a few fanfics, spent way too much time daydreaming and being all round self pitying. I fell off the radar, so to speak. This is a new week though, so I shall embrace it and rouse myself from my reverie.

Have a great week!

An eventful uneventful 24 hours

Yesterday, the internet was out for most of the day.

So was the television.

The day before, most of our district had a power cut for half the day. We have a backup generator, but chugging away for half the day was a bit longer than I guess anyone expected, and it ran out of fuel.

I live a cotton wool existence here in Dili. Not only do I have a nice house (albeit without an oven or grill!), but I live on a compound which means I have the benefit of things like a generator, two internet connections, cable TV, house boys who will run out and do small jobs like buy my phone credit and fix the generator, and a site manager who will fix things like broken light globes and also weigh into the fixing the generator palaver.

Yesterday when the internet went out, I was right in the middle of the world’s funnest conversation with someone on Twitter about what would happen if Rose met Amy? And if Amy met Donna? on Doctor Who.

Very important stuff, I tell you.

Then the internet dropped out and it didn’t drop back in. So I had to seek an alternative. First I did some cooking (strictly stovetop only!). I made chicken and sweetcorn soup, a red curry, a green curry and some baby food. (I had a 2.5kg block of frozen chicken breast that I had too cook up as I couldn’t defrost it piece by piece).

Then the Sprog and I went out for lunch with the Mr. And then I took advantage of the fact that I do have a nanny, and I disappeared and watched Downton Abbey for a couple of hours. (Perhaps I should have been napping, but oh well).

Meanwhile, I checked the internet connection on my phone like a maniac every five seconds just to make sure it hadn’t come back on while I wasn’t there.

I’ve been addicted to the internet since the first dialup connections started to enter houses. 1996? 97? So when I can’t connect to the net, it’s incredibly difficult for me to feel comfortable. All a bit sad, really.




Moving abroad :: the mosquito repellent edition

To say that I can get hung up on random stuff would be an understatement.

Do you remember my post about Doctor Who? Well, I am still obsessed. I’ve even started to buy the box sets cause iView just doesn’t cut it anymore.

One very small example of the way I can get hung up on something.

Sometimes my hangups aren’t so healthy. Usually when it comes to health issues, coincidentally.

When the Sprog was born, I got an infection when she was two and a half weeks old, and ended up being taken to hospital in an ambulance, had surgery and got three bags of blood. As if first time motherhood isn’t hard enough, throw a random comment from the Obstetrician about me ‘almost dying’ into the mix and I was a ball of nerves.

I was a little neurotic when it came to the Sprog and her health. When we arrived back in Ukraine, I made sure to visit every English-speaking paediatrician in Kyiv just so that I was on their books. I rang 13 HEALTH and the poisons hotline via Skype from Ukraine on numerous occasions. (Funnily enough I’ve not used either service with Harrie. Much healthier frame of mind, thank you very much).

And so to the point.

In the three years we’ve been in Darwin, I spent a significant portion working for the Health department. And working there I came across reports from the NT Centre for Disease Control about things like the prevalence of malaria and dengue fever in East Timor.

And then, the one time I visited East Timor, I met a mum with two kids under three on the plane on the way back, both of whom had contracted Malaria.

So I was, and still am, completely freaked out by the mosquito-borne virus situation in Dili (and the rest of Timor-Leste, should we decide to travel to the districts).

Obviously, there are solutions. Wear RID every day is one of them. However, DEET is akin to paint stripper so if there’s an alternative out there I would love to know about it. Plus – babies under one (sometimes two) can’t use any of those products.

So while Mr Moi has been absent in the past week, I have been on a rampage to find every natural mozzie repellent I can. So far I have:

– Ordered 240 mosquito patches. I ordered two types – one fully citronella based one, and one citronella and eucalyptus oil one. These are small patches that attach to clothes (not skin) and are effective in repelling mozzies for 12 hours

– Purchased a 250mL bottle of Vanilla Mozi, a product created by a Darwin mum, containing shea butter, spearmint and vanilla

– Bought a vial of blue cypress essential oil

– Bought an electric oil burner so that I can use the blue cypress oil

– Bought more fabric to make long sleeve shirts and long pants for the girls to repel the mozzies in general

– Gone on a Target bender and bought long pants for the girls and long sleeve tops for me.

That doesn’t sound too OCD right? I’m still torn as to whether I should purchase mozzie nets before I go, though surely they will be available in Dili.

See? This ridiculous preoccupation with repelling mozzies despite the fact that there are a few other things to worry about in East Timor at the moment.

What are your random hangups and neuroses?