Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kiddos in Class 2 pose for library photos

Here are my class 2 kiddos in the library (which I set up! me!!! all mine!!!! hahaha) at my school. I teach them English every morning. They are sweet and chattier than a barrel of monkeys. I adore them.

It starts like so. The little girls wanted me to take photos of them reading from the fiction section of the library. From the left, we have Lineth, Wilma, Carolanie, Jodie, Lemako, Jaylyne, and Marineth. 

Then Kalo Bell and Mark want a photo, Kalo's doing strong face, Mark's actually giving it a shot.

Kids start styling ... Kalo Bell, Lemako, Carolannie, Jordie.

And then here are all of the boys. Henry, Daniel, Serge, Hanson, Ben, Kalo B, and Lemako in the front.

We sometimes get good photos ... But mostly, just fooling around. I do love though how the kids are posing with the books while they style. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vanuatu ... I swear this is the last post about my parents being here.

Vanuatu with the Rents -- BEING ON THE ISLAND

To continue my 15+ post discussion of my vacation ... (But it looks so nice!!) I'm going to talk about having my parents on the island with me. We had a lot of fun on the island. I took them walking around through all the villages and we went to lots of feasts. I showed them all of the plants on the island and my mom even got to scratch some manioc for laplap in Lakilia village! 

This is what my beach looks like ... Stones, stones, stones.

Mom and Dad on the road to Lehunatam (the field where the school and the dispensary are.)

Here we are, just having had lunch at school. The woman on the far right is Elsie Daniel, my supremely lovely counterpart. She's the head teacher at the school and absolutely incredible. She just had her third child, a little girl called Renata, who is absolutely darling. Also in the photo, from the right, Steeve, Kiki, Winnie, Lesbet, me, Erica, and my mom. The shed in the back is where the school keeps its tools.

Christmas Eve dinner ... Dry manioc, baked beans, and steamed yam laplap. (Oh, yum.)

Xmas in Mu'ur village.

Watching people play seven lock -- kind of like Uno, but with cards

Oh no, we have to leave!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Vanuatu with the 'Rents--GETTING TO THE ISLAND

My parents came to Vanuatu for a few awesome weeks! (Sorry if you're getting tired of reading about my vacation ... but I had such a good vacation. Wow.)

Getting to Tongariki is a pain and a half. You can either take a cargo ship (slow, uncomfortable, boring, but cheap!) or you can decide you don't hate yourself. If you go the second route, you fly from Vila to Tongoa island, take a truck across the island, take a boat to my island, then take the truck/haul your stuff up top yourself. 

Here we are at domestic departures. 

When I travel, that's how we have to do the boat. And look at that beach! South Pacific, you think of beautiful white or black sand beach, palm trees swaying in the breeze ... Admittedly this was a pretty overcast day, but this is what my little rocky stretch of aelan looks like. For reference, this photo is facing Valea and Ewose (dark colored islands) with Tongoa in the back. Tongoa is where the airport is. It's a roughly hour long boat ride to the other side.

Me and Dad ... Glad we made it to the other side!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More NZ pics

After a few days in Auckland, we also went to Rotorua. And Hobbiton. It was awesome--saw a few museums, saw a Maori show, saw where they filmed the Hobbit -- it was a really, really good time.

(Hobbiton, si. Hobbiton is way out of the way--it's on a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere--but it's actually a lot of fun to walk around and see it. They filmed exterior shots only here--the interiors were done in a studio in Wellington--so the hobbit holes are all exteriors only. What I found super interesting is that there are duplicate hobbit holes of different sizes. It's normal human size for humans, like 3/4s size for Gandalf, who's supposed to be enormously tall, and bizarrely huge in order to make the actors who play the hobbits look small.)

(I took this photo in Rotorua at a thermal village we went to. It was really awesome -- so they make a living doing tours for tourists, but it's a real place that people live. They basically live on top of hot springs. So they have public baths that they swim in, they can cook in the hot springs, you name it. There are all these houses and in between them are thermal vents, mud pools, and so on. Really really interesting. The guide was fantastic, too. I liked this photo because in the front is a Maori style cross on a church and in the back is a western style cross, different church.)

(This is from the thermal village again. Just look at that -- isn't that gorgeous?)

NZ was so much fun. It was a great break and I loved being there with my parents to see everything. I ate delicious food the whole time, saw two movies in theaters, and felt like I was away from Vanuatu. I love Vanuatu, but something about being in NZ ... It was amazing to feel like I was away and super clean and able to do all of these tourist things. I loved it and I would love to go back sometime.

Next update ... VANUATU FOR XMAS.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Auckland with the Parents pt . 1

Continuing blogging the vacation! So on December 15, I got up really early in the morning, checked out of the hostel, bought a coffee and a muffin, and jumped on the bus to the airport. The airport in Auckland has one easy designated place to meet arrivals -- and oh man, I basically jumped over everything when I first saw them.

(check out the size of the Moa skeleton!! @ Auckland Museum)

We stayed in the CBD basically the whole time and went to tons of museums--Auckland Museum, I forget the name of the Auckland Art Museum, the Maritime Museum, Kelly Tarleton's Aquarium, bunches.

(me and my dad in the museum--in a model Maori meeting house)

It was stellar -- went to go see the Hobbit, had Japanese food, MCDONALD'S, etc etc.

(this is from Ambrym in Vanuatu)

(tapa from Fiji [I think...])

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NZ Day 1

I've been putting off writing these blog posts for months. But now (as I'm writing this) it's March 8, 2014, and I'll be heading back out to my island of solitude (TM) on March 10, so I'd better start talking about my vacation now.

I'd been so excited to have my parents come visit me in Vanuatu. One of the things I find hardest in Peace Corps is being away from family. In the States, even if you don't see your family all the time, you text them, you call them--you feel like you're still part of the family. Sometimes in Peace Corps you feel like you're out on a limb. It's true but it doesn't make you feel all that great.

So on December 14, I flew from Port Vila to Auckland. It was a really bizarre experience. I made the following list of things I found strange:

          Moving walkways
          Water fountains
          Those airport toilets with the seats that automatically sanitize themselves for your protection
          Those hand driers where you stick your hands inside
          So many people (so many white people)
          Actual buses, not mini buses
          Street signs (streets have names??)
          High ways
          The cars all look so nice

I got into Auckland a day before my parents did, so I stayed in a hostel in the Central Business District. That first day I did no sight seeing; I walked around in repetitive circles looking at everything. It was just so weird for me going from Tongariki (which is an incredibly sleepy little island) to Vila (a sleepy little town) to Auckland, which felt like a real city. 

I ate a burrito at a Mexican joint by the hostel and went to this underground supermarket. Being in that supermarket was really disorienting because there was so much to purchase and so many choices to make. In Vila, there's one grocery store chain, two stand alone grocery stores, and a bunch of Chinese stores, but they all basically sell the same set of products. You can buy Oreos in Vila but not Chips Ahoy, Doritos now but not Fritos, there's a few standard brands of cheap wine, et cetera, et cetera. So to be in this grocery store with what looked like fifty brands of yogurt and twenty-seven brands of cereal and however much hummus and garlic spread and bread and whatever was just really confusing. I don't want to sound like I'm this anti-materialist girl from the bush after a year + in Vanuatu, but this experience has made me question why we have so much stuff all the time in the developed world. Who needs to choose between that many brands of cereal? I walked around in a circle for about an hour, then bought a packet of strawberries and a bottle of wine. 

After that, I went to see the new Hunger Games movie at this big cinema. It was also super confusing -- I couldn't figure out where to even buy a ticket. It turned out that you had to buy them at the concession stand. (At this point, I started to feel like a total yokel.) Good movie, also pretty intense after being in a country that doesn't have a movie theater.

Left that, walked around in a circle for a few more hours, then got a sandwich at Subway. In my room at the hostel, there were three nice American girls, two nice Irish guys, and a drunk and weird Frenchman. So I went out and got a few drinks with the Americans and the Irish guys, which was really fun and also just a big change from VU. Went to bed...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Football!!!! And a discussion about names.

This picture is from the end of February. I was playing football with all the village kids (by football, read: I was playing goalie). So in photos here, kids always throw peace signs ... I'm not just being a dork; I'm being culturally normal. From the left, on top: Morris and me. Second row: Morris, Eddie, Mark, and Wicki. Bottom row: Jayline, Michel, Carolannie, Aaron, Moses, and John-Mark. 

One thing you'll probably notice about these names: they're basically either biblical or very straight forward and English sounding. Not everyone has a name like Marie, Jack, Charlie, or Esther, but those sorts of names are really common. A lot of my students have names that sound like they're a hundred years old: Dick, Elsie, Reynald, et cetera. But there are still a lot of kids with kastom names too, names like Leisongi, Kalo, Lepakoa, Leimande, Kaloran, and so on.
Another feature about Ni-Vanuatu naming is that children take their father's first name as their last name. So my little brother Morris (the one in the blue with the rad hair) is called Morris Jerry or Morris Paul, because my host papa is Paul Jerry. It's very, very common in Vanuatu for young women to have children before they're married, because marriage is so expensive and permanent here. In the case that the parents are unmarried but the dad recognizes the kid as his own, the baby takes the dad's first name as his/her last name. But if the baby's dad doesn't think it's his, the mom doesn't want to say who the dad is, or if it's a pikinini blong rod (child of the road--saying that the mom doesn't know the dad), then the kid will usually take the grandfather's name. There are a few families on Tongariki that have decided to use one name as an English-style last name and keep that as their official name, but that's not very common yet.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pictures of South Pacific Art

When I was on vacation, in NZ, Vanuatu, and Fiji, I saw some really fantastic art objects from the South Pacific. Here are a few more pictures I thought were great.

(This is why my mom told me to take pictures of everything's title ... I don't remember where it's from. But look at that. Isn't that gorgeous?)

(This one too. I think it was from the Caroline islands or someplace, but I don't remember at all. Gorgeous though.)

(This one is from Vanuatu, from the Banks islands up in the northern part of the country.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dad and Bubu David // BONUS WW2 STORY

Took this photo up in Muur village over Christmas 2013. Muur is this little village that's pretty far from the rest of the island. They used to all live down in this other village, Tavia, but their gardens are high up on the hill and about 20 years ago, they got sick of making the hike and moved on out there. Muur is a really nice place--super quiet and really chill all the time. My mom and dad came for Christmas and we spent Christmas Day up in Muur. My dad's wearing an island shirt from my host papa and a salu salu that Muur made. Bubu David is ... Bubu David. He was born sometime in the late 1930s and he's a link back to a totally different time.

Bonus World War 2 story that I've heard from Bubu David 5-10 times by now. Back in the day, during the war, and especially during the fighting up in the Solomons, there were lots of American soldiers in Vanuatu. Fighting never reached Vanuatu, luckily, but Ni-Vans are really aware of how bad it was in the Solomons. Major result: Americans are still going strong in Vanuatu with a post-WW2 high. There are very few American tourists, very few American business people, so mostly the American presence has been soldiers and PCVs. It's easy to be seen as good that way.

So back in the day, there were some air force pilots doing routine maneuvers and target practice on a big rock outside of Tongariki. Unfortunately, the plane crashed. Man Tongariki saw the plane crash and was very worried, so they canoed out to rescue the pilots. Although there had been a pretty strong missionary presence, nobody spoke too much English. They tried to be as hospitable as possible, though, kept the pilots in their houses, and, when a plane passed overhead, they built a big fire to signify that they had the pilots. A passing US ship came to pick the pilots up. On their way out, one man, Harry, who had been at a mission school on Efate and spoke more English than anyone else said, "Remember Harry. Harry saved your life." The pilots nodded, got on the boat, and that was the end of it.

Jump a bit later. One day, some other pilots were flying over Tongariki, and they dropped off tons of things -- cloth, tin meat, matches, knives, all sorts of stuff, all of which were labeled Harry. The pilots had remembered what happened and they sent out some goods to the people who had taken care of them. Harry took all of the items to Lewaema or Tavia, I forget, and divvied them out between everyone.