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Published: April 6th 2010
drinking kava in the us
could only recruit my brother and Lorraine who were daring enough to try it
This entry is long over due. Unfortunately I no longer have the luxury of internet on the island available for public use because the 1 computer that sometimes sort of worked is broken and has been broken since last December so it doesn’t seem like it will get fixed soon.
I don’t know where to start, 4 months is a long time to cover... In that time I’ve been to the US and back jumping between 2 completely different cultures and lifestyles. Even the plane ride was culture shock, but in a good way, I went from building fires to cook, peeing in a hole, and lights out at 8 pm to first class treatment: “Right this way miss, would you like more champagne”? I bought more than enough magazines to keep me busy on the flight anticipating boredom, but I was more than entertained with endless movies, drinks, and food. Before I knew it we were landing in LA and I only managed to get 45 minutes of sleep. What a difference first class makes not to mention I probably appreciated it much more at that time than I would at any other time in my life (unless I
Ginger and Tumeric flavor... but theres no masking that taste
decide to spend another year in a small quaint village somewhere after these 2 years.)
When I landed in NY and was in the car driving home w /my parents, the first thing my dad gave me to eat was a banana. It wasn’t even on purpose as a joke, I don’t think. I think he forgot I am coming from the island of bananas. Bananas are everywhere literally falling on my house at times and I struggle to keep eating them so they won’t go bad and go to waste. Fortunately there was a Funny Bone to follow that, I should have made a request of what Id like my first American food that I tasted should be. All of the scenery driving looked so drab and dead compared to the colorful world I had spent the past year living in.
In the first few weeks in the states I was more than content and entertained with simple pleasures such as the coffee maker and driving around listening to music and hot showers. It was also fun activity to go through the cupboards in the kitchen and remind myself of some foods I had forgotten about like Peanut
Rocky still alive... by the place where I cook
Butter Captain Crunch. After a while though it was like I never left and the novelty wears off of making coffee with a coffee maker and I was restless to go somewhere. I never did get tired of Chilis or Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee and egg and cheese croissants yummm. Not only culture but the cold weather was a shock to the system, physically painful to go outside. It had been about 2 years since I was on the east coast for the winter. It seemed incredible to me how people can adjust to living in the cold weather and not be aching to move to a warm weather climate, but every place has its downfalls. I really do not want to live in a cold weather climate ever again if I can help it. By the end of my time in the states I was not necessarily looking forward to going back to Vanuatu, but I wanted to travel somewhere else, somewhere warm.
When I first got back to my village, it was kind of the same feeling of excitement as when I first got to my site. It was refreshing to be back in the sunshine and
to look out at the pink flowers and the three shades of blue of the ocean practically in my front yard. Before I left for the US I had no longer heard the waves crashing at night because I got used to it. Being away and coming back I heard those sounds clearer that I took for granted. (Now I no longer hear the waves as I fall asleep, but that’s because a mini string band moved in next door.) School had been on spell since November and when I got back around January 20th, still spelling until February 15th, which means the kids actually go back to school around the 25th. At the RTC, we tried to advertise school starting February 1st as we’re not part of the formal education system and thought maybe students would come the 7th or 15th if we said the 1st, but no they started coming March 1st. Then more kept coming just until last week when we no longer would accept students. Our RTC is now registered with VNTC (Vanuatu National Training Council) so that’s a pretty big accomplishment because there’s now more support and resources available to us and graduates can walk
away with an accredited certificate. But with this process, we now have a lot of improvements to make in terms of organization, record keeping, and the quality of training. We are getting audited soon so preparing forms and training staff has been occupying a lot of my time. This semester I’m teaching “Statem Bisnes blong Yu” (Business Start up) with my teaching partner Simon. I am slowly relinquishing most of the teaching duties to him as I do not have the patience to teach here and it’s more effective for me to work with the other teacher and have him teach because he’s much better at explaining things in a way the students will understand. Mostly that involves repeating the same things over and over and which I do not have patience for and using lots of metaphors.
I am also teaching Kindy again now to just Jerry and Ben and sometimes Natasha comes who is only 2 1/2. I actually really like teaching Kindy, it’s a nice break from working with older kids, and 4, 5, 6 year olds are my favorite age group here because they treat me normal and are outspoken and are really interested in school and new activities. The RTC students seem to get intimidated and uninterested by any classroom activity that doesn’t involve mindlessly copying notes off the blackboard. Kindy is also a chance for me to act like a kid again and be perfectly acceptable, like coloring, painting, acting out stories, and singing and playing the tam tams. I really love those kids and I’ll be sad to leave them.
Working with Kindy and the RTC comprises most of my day, the remainder of my time I spend preparing food and cooking on the fire; weeding grass and working in my garden; cutting firewood; lying in my hammock in the Frangipani tree reading, listening to music; and washing clothes, plates, house, etc. I just recently planted my vegetable garden again which involved clearing all of the grass and trees that had grown since I neglected it. I also cleared another space and planted some island cabbage so hopefully that will grow soon. Cutting down small trees and weeding grass with the bush knife is a great source of exercise and stress reliever. It’s even better than going to the gym, because after all the work you are contributing to growing your own food. Its very rewarding to become more and more self sufficient. When I first came here I could not start a fire or peel the skin off a coconut. After much practice when no one was looking I can finally peel the skin off a coconut in an amount of time that is acceptable. I have my own coconut scratcher so I don’t need to rely on anyone for the whole process of turning a coconut fallen off a tree into coconut milk on my food. It may sound silly, but it is really rewarding to become more and more self sufficient.
Regardless of the pleasures of the simple life, I can’t deny the numerous times that I am dying to get out of the village and go into “town” to Lakatoro. Lately after several downpours of rain, the roads have been extra bumpy and even more unpleasant in the back of a truck, but even so the hour or two ride is worth it when you need to get away or need a cold drink or bread. Sandra (another volunteer 2 hr walk north from me) and I recently celebrated St. Patricks Day and I think the celebration here was more than I had ever celebrated in the states. It’s mostly because it’s an excuse for a “lafet” to drink. We got a hold of green food coloring and died our homebrew green, cake, and popcorn balls. Sandra’s family joined us and made some food too. We were asked to make a speech about St. Patrick’s day so we kind of exaggerated a little and talked about how the color green is to celebrate the earth and that’s why we have all this green although that is probably not accurate. Then Sandra’s host family made a prayer for St. Patrick’s Day about Ireland and the US and Peace Corps volunteers and I had to bite my tongue not to laugh but it was cute of them to get so interested in the holiday even if we exaggerated and lied a little about the extent that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Well this is getting to be a long entry, will stop here for now. Thanks for reading , stay in touch!
PS : Thank you to all who donated to our library project. I just purchased all of the building materials today, they will be on a ship shortly to Malekula, and we (well the RTC manager and students) should be starting to build in less than 2 weeks! Your contribution is very much appreciated
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