It should go without saying...

...but it doesn't. None of the viewpoints or opinions expressed on this blog reflect the views and opinions of the United States government, the Peace Corps or anybody else besides me!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welcome to Malvasi

Well, I've emerged from the steamy jungle depths for another period of basking in the sunny glow of civilization: electricity, internet, flushing toilets, white man food, refridgerated goods, etc. How I missed them all. I'll update my blog briefly now because I'm tired and sweaty and I don't really feel like it.

Anyway, above is a picture of me and my host family on Christmas Day. We're sitting in front of my house. On the left is my host papa. His name is Simion (pronounced SIM-ee-uhn). As you can see, he's not too much older than me. He's pretty cool and we actually have several interests in common. He's very curious about science and technology. We've had several long conversations about the space program and volcanos and earthquakes. He was fascinated to learn that we're supposed to go back to the Moon in 2020 and Mars in 2030. I didn't have the heart to explain the giant monkey wrench the global financial meltdown was likely to throw into these plans. I figured out how to explain about air locks in Bislama. Simion also stood for Parliament once back in the 90s as a UMP (United Moderate Party) candidate. He lost, but I think that may not have been his last campaign (fingers crossed!).

To the right is my little brother, Jerry Gila. I call him "Gila Monster". He's pretty cool. He's in the first grade and we actually have some things in common, as well. He loves white man food, especially white man food that's loaded with sugar (just like me when I was his age). He's also very, very stubborn or "hemi gat strong hed tumas", as we say in Bislama.

The woman on the end is my host mamma, Enna. She's also cool. She sometimes goes to the gardens with me (as does Jerry Gila). I have some pictures of that I'll upload later. She taught me how to cook some island food and wash my clothes in the river and all sorts of things. Her father was an MP but he died tragically on the floor of Parliament in 2000. She comes from a nearby village called Yapuna.

The picture to the left is my living room. I have a kastom house--which means a house built out of local materials, like bamboo and...I don't know, things of that nature. I didn't build it I just live there. It's filled with dust all the time because the reeds catch dust in the wind or something. But its much, much cooler than a tin-roofed white man house, which is what I lived in back in the training village.
The other picture is of the nakamal (pronounced: knock-uh-mall). It means meeting house. In Vila, it means the place you go to drink kava. This one is near the beach and is where large meetings are held.

Above, is a picture of the beach in Malvasi. Its like twenty feet away from my house. Pictured here is one of the ships that comes by every week. Its called the Kawale (pronounced COW-wuh-lay). It delivers people and cargo and carries away stuff the people in Malvasi harvest or maufacture and sell in Vila, like kava or copra (a product of coconuts that's used in the manufacture of vegetable oil).

The other picture is of my about to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a new classroom built with a grant from the EU. One of my predecessors wrote that grant a few years ago. The classroom was at a school called Yevali, about a 45 minute walk from Malvasi. As the local white man/Peace Corps representative, I had the honor of giving a brief speech and then cutting the ribbon. It was fun and the kava afterwards wasn't half bad.


  1. Jared, welcome back to civilization even if only for a short time. Tell us more when you can. Will you be able to call us on this trip to Port Vila?

    Your American Papa

  2. Jared! How wonderful to hear from you! We've been counting the days until your return to civilization and internet access. The pictures are beautiful! Your Vanuatu family looks so sweet! And you're a blond again! My goodness, don't you look GREAT! Island living agrees with you! WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU and can't wait for the next update. You need to send us your telephone number so we can call you. Lovelovelove - Your American Mom

  3. Hey, goof head. Yes, it's me, your (I guess we'll keep with the "American" moniker theme your parents have got going) American Auntie, as in Lindy. Wow, you do look simply MAHvelous, dahling! Great to hear from you and love those photos! Except they are a little screwed up on the blog, although with a little tweaking still accessible. Can't wait for more news and pics. I keep meaning to send you pics of my new pup and I promise I'll get right on that. Which means you'll get them about the time she turns two... Love you, sweet ambassador! Auntie L

  4. Jared - American Aunt NAnnie checking in. Love seeing the pictures and you do look fit and very happy!

    Glad to hear that you like your host family. Sounds like you are getting to have some great talks. You may get the chance to run a campaign while you are there.

    Love you and know that we think of you often!!!

  5. Good to hear from you again. I check every so often to see if you have left any new posts. Loved the photos. I also am very proud of you and what you are doing. (To keep the moniker going!) Your "American" teacher!
    Mrs. Snyder