Published: September 15th 2009August 15th 2009
I don't want you guys to leave.
Again? Couldn't we have stayed in Malaita? No? Well, okay... as long as I get to learn some more tech stuff and have fun afterwards. Let's do it!
In the military, days seem to begin earlier and earlier, and I find myself unable to sleep past 6:45 or 7:00 am. I think, again, back to my Papa and how he could never sleep past about 5:30 or 6:00. Am I doomed to repeat that? Is it from being in the Navy? My poor husband is in for some early mornings, though he can sleep anywhere, anytime. I definitely envy him that. So, most days, I have my alarm set for 0700 to get to breakfast at 0730. With the volunteering projects, I usually have to be on the gangway by 0700. Well worth my time and effort in the long run, but why does fate make me wake up 10 or 20 minutes before my alarm? No fair!
The VETCAP (Veterinary Capabilities) team and I take the RHIB into Guadalcanal. Luckily, no burlap sacks get sucked up into the propulsion intake this morning (oh yes, happened
My first IV catheter. Mission Complete.
Don't screw this up, everyone is watching! I rocked it... yeah, got a little blood on me though.
many times). We take the 2 trucks into town... what's on the docket for today? We set up for small animal check-ups and surgeries at the agriculture center... turns out to not be super busy, but constant. Roman, Thomae, Jay and I stay on site and the others leave to go search for more pigs. :) As I said, agriculture care and training is more vital for the survival of the people, but I am so glad I stayed! The cutest puppies kept coming in and I continued to practice all the skills I learned in Malaita. I helped talk some people through vaccine shots and deworming... Thomae taught me how to do an IV catheter. Holy moly, I was scared to death! I was a little shaky (might have been all the coffee), but beginners luck prevailed, I was able to do it well the first time, even if I did get a little blood on me. I didn't feel queasy at all either!
One poor little guy came in to be neutered but was in obvious distress. He had been attacked by other dogs and had multiple
This poor little guy had holes everywhere. I decided to clean him out on my lap. Poor little guy.
puncture marks everywhere. I decided to put him in my lap and clean him up. He barely even moved as I cleaned out the "holes", one was particularly painful for him. It felt good to help, but it made my heart hurt to think of what might happen to him later. Can't dwell I suppose, but I'm a sucker for animals.
Most days we were too busy to think about eating lunch, but we always made sure to have plenty of water and MREs with us. Let me digress for a minute... Meals Ready to Eat, not something that sounds appetizing, right? Well, let's just say that technology is absolutely fantastic and has allowed us to jump leaps and bounds over the old type. When I can each Chicken Pesto Pasta, scones and Chicken Fajitas in the field, I can't complain. Deserts were great, flavors yummy and I even had some jalapeno cheese with tortillas that were to die for. Oooh, the other great part of being in the South Pacific... coconuts! Every chance we got, we'd find coconuts to drink the milk. They were especially nice when chilled, wish
MREs are the yummiest!
Seriously, I could eat these things frequently... ask me later why you shouldn't.
we had fresh ones in the States. The Solomons have great coconuts, bananas and melons. Unfortunately, they also have betelnut.
I first heard of Betelnut in Guam, hearing that some people chew the nut of a palm and it gives them a buzz. Okay, whatever, right? Well, Solomons takes betelnut to a whole new level. I don't want to sound insensitive or rude here, but I wondered, walking down the streets, why people had ridiculously bloody teeth. Everyone!
It took me a while to figure out what the betelnut chewing process encompasses, but it's a staple to most of the people there. Betelnut is a name given to the seed of the Areca catechu tree, it's a palm tree that grows in parts of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and Africa. It's more commonly known as the betel palm or betel nut tree and grows to about 100 feet in height. Checking out google, betelnuts have been used as a drug for thousands of years, a mild stimulant. In addition to reasons of tradition, local people chew it for stress reduction, heightened awareness, and suppression of hunger. The stimulant
Jay has got to be the most patient man I know.
effect can be felt almost immediately and lasts a good 3-5 hours. Well, it turns out that long-term betelnut chewers eventually develop a distinctive red stain of the mouth, teeth, and gums. It's chewed as part of social occasions or as a part of everyday life, so most people have a bloody mouth look to them permanently. To get the buzz out of the nut, they add a lime mixture to chew... here they take ground coral with it as well to cut their gums for direct blood stream interaction. It was a bit bizarre to me, but again, no judgement. They've been living this way for a long time. I didn't try it though, I like my teeth color the way it is.
Honestly, all I did in Guadalcanal was work, eat, dive and go back to sleep on the ship. :) All in all, great fun. I think I can find something good in just about any place... let's hope my luck continues.
There are more photos below