Preparations for Timor Leste

Much time has been spent contemplating the ‘right’ materials to take, the camera gear and speculating as to the conditions ahead of us for our three weeks in Timor. Each journey is different and requires a focused preparation. It’s not as if we can just throw a few clothes together and jump on a plane.

There have been inoculations – many of our previous inoculations have served well for this trip already. This time we have had three lots of ‘rabies’ vaccinations – and even then in the unlucky event of being bitten by an animal we need to be rushed to hospital and then on the first plane back to Darwin; because there will unlikely be any meds to treat a bite. The hospital situation we understand in Timor is far from what we know and are used to in Australia. We have to carry our own ’emergency’ kits and medications. A web site praising the new hospital in Dili explains the most common meds given are panadol. Anything else is in pretty short supply – and that’s antibiotics and pain medication.

We expect temperatures to be around 30C. Packing on these chilly days with a view to the tropics and not putting in warm clothing seems odd.

Then there are the art materials to consider – what can I take with a view to space and protection? Probably I will take gouache, pastel and watercolour. No point even considering oil. Acrylic too seems a bit bulky in this event.

The most important equipment for this trip will be my camera and video camera. My job will be to document the activities of the rotary members and work on a combined film with Ian Toohil who wants to produce a film Rotary can use. I have my own agenda; to meet the artists and in particular women weavers and document them at work. Contacts have been a little illusive so I plan on making my own introductions and hoping for a welcome.

It would be lovely to make some contact and friendship between Eltham and the Timorese artists. We have much to give, but even more to learn from meeting the people and artists who have gone through difficulties we (I) cannot understand. We (I) come from a society that does not know war or true community unrest. The most unrest an Elthamite like me has had to contend with on a personal level is the local political environmental and artistic spates. This compared to the places we (I) have travelled seems very petty.

Enough contemplating for now – on with the packing.