Wake up. Roommates’ alarm jolts me awake. She hits snooze. We don’t actually have to be up until 6am, so we ‘meditate’ for half an hour, and definitely do not steal another half-hour of sleep.
Morning activity. The sunrise is spectacular. I sit on the beach that lines our accommodation and read a tattered paperback. Some of us run to Christo Rae, some do yoga, and some just need the time to get the gears turning. The productivity boost that comes from this small hour is an absolute asset, and I hope the habit stays with me when I’m back home.
Breakfast. Everybody swarms to the coffee pot, me included. This is our first chance to check in with the group and prepare ourselves for a constructive day. My team is collecting more surveys today, so I go over the questions in my book while munching peanut butter on toast.
Project day begins. We’re collaborating with the Fuel Consultation team for the next couple of days, so the 12 of us cram into the monster Land Cruiser and head off for a bumpy two-hour ride to the mountain district Gleno. The white exterior of the car is covered in mud and grit by the time we arrive at 11, and our voices are already worn from belting out tunes the whole way there. We split into groups of two and begin the sweaty business of surveying the owners of as many farms as we can find.
Hot and sweaty. Morale is still high and despite the consistent sheen of sweat and blaring sun on our backs, our motivation is kindled by the hospitality of every person we interview. It’s hard to explain, but the kindness and warmth shown toward a group of sweaty interns nosing around crops and farms was something that still makes me smile. The people of Timor-Leste always have a chair for you to sit on, and a cup of tea or coffee prepared. Somewhere on the winding dirt paths between farms, we stop for a quick lunch of tofu scramble and cookies and put together a game plan for the remainder of the day.
Regroup and return to HQ. After some great conversations and insight from local farmers, we regroup with the rest of our team and squeeze in once more for a drive home which is more reminiscent of riding a tractor than a car but is something none of us would trade for the world.
Data input and kitten check. After arriving and unloading back at HQ, we spend the next hour inputting survey data into our cloud databases. Future teams will use this data to identify trends and possible future actions regarding the project. The local nameless cat recently had babies, so naturally, our attention is split between work and her week-old kittens. Keeping her from bringing them into our rooms is a constant struggle, as she is always searching for warm spots to hide them, as any good mother would.
Daily recap. We go over our sustains and improves with our team leader and set our goals for the following day. After that, we’re free to use the afternoon how we want, which usually means catching a microlet to the local supermarket and stocking up on morale fuel (snacks and soda).
Dinner. All of us get together again to eat a consistently incredible dinner, prepared by our legendary resident cook, Maria. Expect periods of intense food-shoveling silence, followed closely by equally intense banter sessions. Brain-melting riddles may also be introduced, which only fuel the electric energy around the table.
Wind-down. With the workday over, we occupy ourselves in various ways. Some called home, some play cards and some just relax. Tonight, I’m watching an episode of my favourite show on Netflix and getting an early night.
Lights out. The day was hot and hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m out cold in seconds.