To the left is a photo from Blue Water, the resort where we spent our first week in Vanuatu, of a trail through the bush leading to the beach. To the upper left is an early evening shot from Blue Water. To the right, is another picture from Emua, the path leading up past Ryan's papa's house and the community center to the big "ring road" that circles all of Efate and is now mostly paved.
I've been spending some mad vatu, folks. I'm still comitted to the idea of packing-less-is-packing-more, though. Yesterday, me and my once and future neighbor Chris went out shopping in Chinatown. Yes, Vila has a Chinatown but it isn't anything like the one back in San Francisco. It's mainly just a few streets that have a lot of Chinese shops on them. We've all been buying a lot of our stuff in these Chinese shops because they have a lot of stuff in them and aren't too expensive. They're operated by Ni-Vans and fulap with Chinese goods and products. I bought a couple of durable-looking container things for washing clothes, a bigfala plastic container for storing water (yeah, apparently we only have water once every two or three days in Malvasi), a couple of Chinese bags to carry stuff in, a dartboard to help me amuse myself on those long, hot afternoons on the island, a New Zealand plug convertor for the computer. I think I might go ahead and get the stove with propane container. It's not as bulky as I thought it was going to be. I also bought some movies. They have these things in Chinese shops called 26 in 1's. They have 26 movies of the same type on one DVD. I bought the Denzel Washington collection. Yesterday afternoon I watched "Crimson Tide". The video quality wasn't spectacular but the whole thing was on there. I also found "Battlestar Galactica" season DVDs, supposedly all four seasons in one package. I went ahead and bought it, even though it was 3000 vatu and the cover art featuring "Star Trek" ships didn't fill me with confidence about the quality. It's missing a lot of episodes, but, like the Denzel Washington collection, wasn't a bad deal. Chris, as it turns out, is also a Battlestar fan, as is his other nearest neighbor.
People have already started shipping out to their islands. I'm leaving on Tuesday, but two girls from 22 who were posted to the Banks (those northern most islands) left a few days ago. Another big group is leaving tomorrow. One of my good friends--Josh Adeyami, hopefully I've spelled his last name correctly--is leaving tomorrow for the island of Malekula. His mom back in Georgia visited my blog today and said she enjoyed the pictures. Included in the picture to the left is (from left to right) Josh, Ryan and our language trainer George, seen here "enjoying" a shell of kava. Ryan isn't leaving until Thursday (that lucky ducky gets a couple extra days in Vila) but tonight is Josh's last night, so we'll all go out for one last shell of kava with him. The sorrow of parting, in this case at least, isn't so much sweet as bitter, green and dry heave inducing.
During shopping yesterday, Chris (the aforementioned neighbor-to-be-again) and I talked it over and decided to take Three Pledges to help serve as guidelines for our respective Peace Corps experiences. The latter two bear mentioning. Pledge #2 is to take up canoing--I mean, to really, really get into it. People in the Lamen Bay/Rovo Bay area do a lot of that sort of thing, we've heard, and it sounds like wonderful, scenic exercise. And, it would replace going to the gym rather nicely, a habit I actually do kind of miss. Chris thinks he can he even make his own canoe (though I daresay the seaworthiness of any such homemade boat will have to be irrefutably demonstrated before I'll even get in it). Pledge #3 is the "Apocalypse Now" pledge. It started off as an agreement that neither one of us should cut our hair for the entirety of our Peace Corps service, but I expanded it to a broader committment to the ethic of "going native". This is a beautiful country full of beautiful people and I think it's our duty as representatives of the United States to embrace it as much as possible and then share that with you guys back home. Granted, some volunteers have taken it to far (in my opinion). Many of them have completely abandoned the use of deoderant. One of them even consented to a circumcision by a traditional kastom doctor in a village ceremony. I heard a rumor (from reliable sources) that a few years ago, one of the volunteers went mad out their in the jungle and covered his house and himself with tinfoil. The villagers eventually called the PCMO and had him medically evacuated. Of course, my embrace of Ni-Van culture will be less fevered and fanatical. And now we have the Three Pledges to help us keep to it. Failure to comply with any of the Three Pledges by one party will result in the assessment of severe penalties, payable to the other party in the form of alcohol, kava or other sundry goods.