Posted by: rlearmonth | March 21, 2009

Full Circle

Fast forward a few months, and I am back in Washington DC, sitting by the fire on a colder-than-usual spring afternoon. I returned from Timor-Leste in late December, and am missing the warm trade winds, even though this is the rainy season in Timor-Leste. Warm and wet feels much better than cold and damp.

I began working in development in 1966 as a Peace Corps Volunteer on the small island of Rota, in the Mariana Islands of what was then Micronesia. As I left for Timor-Leste last year, it seemed entirely fitting that I end my career on another small island, forty-some years later. My intention was to return to the US from Timor-Leste and retire, perhaps starting another career, perhaps not. But when I left, I had not counted on returning to a world in the grip of economic chaos. All-in-all, it seemed an inopportune time to retire.

So, I am back working at headquarters, same as before, but significantly different. Timor-Leste has not been far from my mind. With all its difficulties and quirks, joys and miseries it is a wonderful country and I miss it. And I miss colleagues and friends.

It has occurred to me that over the last forty years, I have said goodbye in too many places, and to too many people I cherish. It is hard to pour energy and emotion into a place and just let it go when you leave. I hope to go back to Timor-Leste periodically, knowing of course that it will not be the same.

Next month, I will be in Liberia, doing a study to find culturally (and nutritionally) suitable alternatives to the hunting and consumption of endangered forest animals, a main source of protein for forest-dwelling people. It is a fascinating topic, one that will be very engaging over the next few months. The field work will take me far into the bush (forest animals hunted for food are collectively called “Bushmeat”).

Then I’ll have to leave. So it goes.


  1. And we are glad you’re safely “home” and hope we’ll go scuba diving together one day..feel good about your life. You have made a real contribution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: