Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nakamal, Lewaema village

Here is the nakamal in Lewaema village. (And there, to the right, is Elsie from Class 4!) Nakamal is a very complicated term, and it's not made any easier by the fact that nakamals can be very different wherever you go in Vanuatu. At its base, nakamal means meeting place. In traditional kastom areas, the nakamal is the place of the chief, and it's the place for men to drink kava. On Tanna, and in kastom villages across Vanuatu, women are not allowed to enter the nakamal. In less kastom places, like mine (Tongariki is not particularly kastom), it's more of a gathering place. Men drink kava at the nakamal, but women cook there, too. On Tongariki, the mamas cook lap lap or other community kakaes at the nakamal regularly, and during feasts, everyone hangs out there. We watch DVDs together (sometimes--I've seen string band videos and First Blood) or just story. In town, for the last example, nakamal is the word for kava bar. You go, you pay kava, you buy food ... And so on.

Tongariki has five nakamals (one for each village) and one kava bar (in Lakilia village). Men, women, and children can go to all of them, but the genders are usually segregated, for the most part. At the nakamal in Erata village, for example, women and children (and maybe a few of the papas) sit inside underneath the roof, while all the rest of the men sit on benches lining the nakamal. And at the ready made (kava bar) in Lakilia, men sit over by where the kava is sold, and women sit over by where the food is sold. Women drink kava and men buy food, but after they pay, everyone goes back to their appropriate site.

The nakamal in this picture is the southern style of nakamal--built under a tree. Most of the nakamals on Tongariki are this style, but the nakamal in Erata is northern style -- a large house complex. Tongariki is a central island, so this makes sense--influences from the south and the north meeting together.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Few Words in Language

The national language of Vanuatu is called Bislama, and it's something like a pijin version of English. On my island, however, and throughout the Shepherds, they speak a different language--allegedly called Nawakura, although I only read that in a book. Nawakura bears no relationship to English, and so I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about the words I know in that language! (Mostly--note--I basically know nouns. Hah.)

To start off with, all nouns in language start with the prefix na-.

nambetet--sweet potato

korokololo--go swim (bathe)
kaen korokololo--YOU go swim
korokokinikan--go kakae (eat)
koroara--go sit down
korokoelo--go to the salt water (beach)
korokomalal--go to the garden
korokomatir--go sleep

mangorise--early morning
leat--mid morning to early afternoon

meno--thank you
meno mbigiak--thank you very much



I know other words, but now that I've been in town for a while, I forget ... Like, I've forgotten the word for pig. (How is that possible? Pigs are a big, big deal. Also, the days when someone kills a pig for a feast are, without question, the best days of my life. There's nothing like roasted pig on top of manioc lap lap. It's amazing. Love it.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Good Friday with Jennifer

I just like this photo. Jennifer's like my ... cousin? Man I don't even know. She has the same father as my little half sister who was carried out from Vila. (Asina isn't really adopted -- or maybe she is, I kind of don't know. I thought she was staying forever, but maybe she might go back? But then she's like six or seven and I think she might have said that just because she misses her dad.)

But Jennifer's really cool. I need to remember to develop a bunch of pictures for everyone, and I think I'm going to give her a copy of this one. I just really like it.

In the back is the cross the Presbyterians burned for Good Friday. It's supposed to symbolize how Christ burns away your sins. We threw in pieces of wood and coconut husks to show how the cross burned them all away ... It was really sweet. Obviously in the States this has a different context, but this is Vanuatu, you know?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

After Bonani with one of my students

Bonani (bon annee, I don't know how to insert accents on a windows machine) is a tradition in Vanuatu. On my island, the way it works is that everyone from village A comes to sing to village B. Everyone from village A stands in a circle facing in, and people from village B give presents of calico and put baby powder, perfume, lotion, tooth paste (!), sometimes margarine ... Haha.

So this picture was actually taken at the nakamal in Erata, and Jaylene (on the left) is from Erata, so I don't know why she's got that stuff on her face, hah.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coming into Town

I turn into an indecisive moron every time I come into town. Most of the PCVs in my group frequent about seven or eight restaurants total (Nambawan, Jill's, Island Time, Spice, Brewery, Chill, Sea View--and can Au Bon/Chinese stores count as number eight?) so it's not as if there is an enormous bonanza of choices. When we go out drinking, we go to Brewery, Anchor Inn, Grand. When we go out dancing, my group goes to Elektro Rock, Voodoo, maybe Shakers.

And yet somehow after coming off the island my brain is stupid. The idea that ground beef is even a thing--much less that there are like five decent places to get a hamburger--is just totally overwhelming. At site, I eat fish a few times a week. Maybe a few times a month I eat tinned meat. Maybe once a month, someone kills a chicken or a pig and I eat that. And town, I can eat fresh beef and cheese and bread? Man, I don't have any of that.

'I guess that's the secret--miss out on a few staples, like bread, for a while, and all of a sudden, everything is awesome.