In less than 20 hours I’m going to be on a plane. This is not unusual for me. I’ve been on many flights and been to a number of destinations. But for the first time – ever – I’m nervous. Every now and then I get this wave of nausea reminding me of what is about to happen. In less than 20 hours I’m going to be checking an item off my bucket list. I’m going to be in the 5th newest country to date. Timor-Leste. In this case, the destination is not what I’m going for, but the opportunity to be part of a nation’s history. For 25 bloody years, the East Timorese were occupied by Indonesia and in 2002 they were granted independence after a referendum on sovereignty. On March 17, 2012, the Timorese will be holding their third election to date and I’m lucky enough to be part of it. I am going to be joining a group of Australians as election observers and over the next 8 days, I’m going to witness how a new country runs an election.
For those of you who know me, this is the big leagues. I’ve been wanting to do this for YEARS, but I’m still nervous. I’m not afraid of the potential violence (which is very much a possibility seeing as there was violence after their last election-a fact I conveniently neglected to tell my mother). I’m not afraid of the people or the language barrier, of which the former are supposed to be wonderful and the latter is latin based and therefore familiar to me. I’m not afraid of the lack of roads which have recently deteriorated into quagmires because of all the rain. Lord knows I like creating my own paths anyway. I’m afraid of much more minute things. This is the first time I’ve been anywhere by myself. Moreover, I’m nervous about what happens next. What happens when this is all over? How do I use this experience and where do I let it take me? What if it turns out that democracy is a big sham and my entire belief in the world crumbles around me? Ok, that might be a little melodramatic, but I am about to embark on a milestone in my life, no matter the result. So perhaps this post is just a friendly reminder to myself, if no one else, that I have created every milestone in my life up to this date, and this, like all the others before, is just that – a milestone. It is not the pinnacle of my life, and though I may not know what direction I’m heading in next, I’m going to soak up the next eight epic days of my life. I’m depending on all of you to make sure I do that!
I touch down in a little over 24 hours from now. Check back in a couple of days. You might find something good!