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September 27th 2008
Published: September 27th 2008
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Here is our lovely PCMO with her Ni-Vanuatu expert on preparing island foods.
Our last day in Port Vila before we move into our training site. Our day was packed with non-classroom style teaching, a nice break but still LOTS of information!

First stop, a troop of us went running through town. I have been so lucky to find some fellow runners. I've been getting up around 5:30 am each morning, so instead of waking Justin up to chat, I have a run to look forward to. Plus it has been a great way to get a better idea of the layout of the town. Today we ran through the residential area and found two great hills. Another guy in my group joked that we must not have hills in Kansas because I was so excited about that one. Anway, running - check and therefore mental health - check.

We then went to our Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO)'s house for a lesson on native foods and how to prepare them. We had an excellent array of local foods that are available on most islands. Most importantly, they demonstrated how to select and prepare the foods in a more "western" style that had us all drooling. We also got to romp around
Coconut GrindingCoconut GrindingCoconut Grinding

Harvesting the meat from our coconut halves.
in her garden to get an idea of how we could plant our own.

Our lesson there also included a bit on shelling green coconuts. That was quite a chore. The coconuts are great for drinking, eating, and also making coconut cream which adds flavor to many of the bland vegetables here. We practiced removing the outer shell of the coconut, splitting them in half with a bush knife, and scraping the meat out from the inside shell. The whole process made me truly appreciate the coconut bra that my aunt Carol, Grandpa Larson, and company created for me in honor of an inside "Jake's" joke. It is a very intense process. Our host families in the training village will help us polish this necessary skill.

Bush knifes are every bit as intimidating as they sound, but no fear, they are only used for clearing a path "bush" (thick forrest) and coconuts. Before going to our two year site, each volunteer is stronlgy encourage to buy one. Maybe Justin can wield the knife for the both of us (?). They kind of remind me of the knife that Aladdin carries around in the Disney movie.

After this
The ViewThe ViewThe View

This is quite literally a picture of the PCMO's backyard.
morning session and a lunch of our newly appreciated island foods (aelan kaekai), we went down to the sea wall for our boat safety lesson. This included everything from how to trouble shoot a malfunctioning motor, how to evacuate a boat correctly with a life jacket, and how to choose a safe boat for travel. We also learned about various types of sea life and how to interact with it. There are amazing sites for snorkeling here. After a successful practice evacuation, we swapped our life jackets for snorkel gear and went for a swim. There were blue starfish the size of my Grandpa Brock's hand, maybe larger, grand expanses of coral and brilliant fish. Justin and I are thinking of investing in some snorkel gear while we're here, but for now we are waiting to see where our more permanent location will be and if there is good snorkeling near by.

All this in one day and what more could a Peace Corps Trainee need on her last night before moving to the training village? Ice cream! An of course, there was a shop right on the way home. I also found a great little purse made of
Island FoodIsland FoodIsland Food

Some of the produce here is taro, pumpkin, banana, island cabbage, and french beans. Yummy in the tummy (now that I know how to prepare it).
woven grass that my fellow group members are drooling over. They say I look very "Peace Corps" and I say it's just me.

Not sure how long it will be before the next post. Our training village will not have internet, so hopefully my sister will be updating the blog for me. Give her a nudge in that direction next time you see her! Thanks for your mail, prayers, comments, and support!

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Canoe TreeCanoe Tree
Canoe Tree

True to it's name, this tree's branches are used out to make canoes.
Snorkel SiteSnorkel Site
Snorkel Site

Here is where we dove out to snorkel. Notice the pikininis (kiddos) on the beach.
Safety FirstSafety First
Safety First

We kind of stood out on the way home, lugging our newly issued life jackets.

27th September 2008

So sad to hear the blog entries will be fewer! I've really enjoyed reading them. I pray for you guys every day! So glad to hear you enjoying your self and learning so much! Just remeber all of us in Kansas are so proud of you guys! Love you!
1st October 2008

So excited for YOU
I love reading this. Saw your Dad today at Ken's and he gave me this address. Hope OK. Will certainly give to Lexy, too! I think I need your "diet" over there. You won't have any trouble learning so much in such a short time!!! ;-} God Bless and you can bet I will be nudging Brechen to keep us up to date!!!
1st October 2008

I hope you and Justin are still doing well. And I am also sad that the posts will be minimal. My mom saw your dad and he gave her the blog information - and I am so happy about that! I'll have to ask him for your snail mail address. I'm so SO happy to hear that everything is going well for you. Can't wait to hear more. :)

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