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!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Team Epi; Ship Trip; Cosmonaut Cote;

Well, I'm in Vila for a bit longer than I thought. I didn't change my plane ticket in time and so both the flights I wanted were booked up. So, I'm going back to Epi on a ship but not until Friday. But that means I have two open tickets I can use any time. Should anybody decide to come visit me.
Above is a close up of the "Kawale", one of the copra ships, when it visited Malvasi months and months ago. I'll be travelling on a ship not unlike this one. Only a bit bigger.

Here's a photo of Epi from the air. I think its Epi, anyway. There's a bunch of islands out here and none of them have name signs large enough to be seen from the air.

Team Epi, with our dogs. I'm on the right, Christopher Eckert is in the middle and Amy "Torisu" Orr is on the left. Obviously this picture is a little old, as Attlee is a lot bigger now. So is Chris' dog Ender and Amy's dog is a LOT bigger. His name used to be Kulee (pronounced "cool-e"), which means "dog" in her local language. But then they decided that was a dumb name so they changed it to something else (pronounced "Sue-Wall"). I can't remember what that means in language.

Evidence of the economies slow but steady recovery: my little Aunt Lindy found a job!! At NASA!! She now works at Johnson Space Center in sunny Houston. She's going to have a security badge and an office (or cubicle, at least), possibly with a view of cool space stuff. I've already encouraged her to take some pictures of Mission Control for us, which I'll happily post on my blog. Congratulations, Auntie!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Team Epi Strikes Again!

I always knew I'd find true love in the Peace Corps.

We did a big nutrition workshop on Amy's island.

Chris and Lauren.

Chris is my good Peace Corps bud. He lives in Niku. He has a traditional island house like mine, made out of bamboo but he's rapidly turning it into a white man house. The Peace Corps gave him a big solar panel for his satellite radio and he's used it to power electrical lights, his dvd player and ipod. Chris is from Portland, Oregon, and he's quite proud of his hometown. He's about convinced me I should move out there when this all over and sample life in a Blue State for once. My exercise regimen is also modeled on Chris'. I never had any problem with maintaining the motivation to do it, I just lacked the knowledge to design a really effective program. Chris had the opposite problem. So, I help keep him motivated to do his and he gives me technical advice on mine. Chris is also a huge Battlestar Galactica fan and all around nerd.

Lauren is perhaps the nicest person I've ever met (except for mom). Her Peace Corps nickname is "Mother Teresa".She always has something nice to say about everybody and everything. She's a hippie but she believes in Jesus (::sigh::). She's from Ohio originally but has lived in Sacramento, CA for the past few years. She used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. She came to Vanuatu with Group 21B, the group immediately prior to my group, Group 22. Those folks are all supposed to COS (close of service: go home) in November, but Lauren has elected to extend her contract for a year.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pigs, Dogs, Aid Post Committees

Hog-tying a hog.

20 March: 22 easy 32 hard. Sunny in the morning, cloudy and intermittent rain in the PM. Storian smol (visiting) at the nakamal. Cooked some of the taro I bought at the market for dinner. I let Attlee sleep inside because there were drunk yangfala (teenagers) about in the PM.

21 March: 23 easy, 34 hard. Sunny most of the day. Didn't do crap all day except talk to Aunt Nancy for one minute and six seconds. Attlee crapped ALL OVER my kitchen last night. Next time, the yangfala can have him.

The President came to Rovo Bay to nationalize the land. There's a lot of land disputes because of differing land titles that were given out.

20 February: Attlee wasn't depressed he's in agony from a disease or ailment, probably of the stomach (its swelled up in the picture). Stayed up all night with him trying to comfort him. Spent most of the day with him on the beach, waiting for cell reception so I could talk to a PC doc about it. Tonight, I broke out the sat phone and spoke to Nelsine. Hannah and Lauren dropped off my laptop in the evening. Watched "Apollo 13" with the Ni-Vans.

26 April: 17 hard, 53 easy. Lauren and Chris came to Malvasi around midday to take my laptop to Lamen Bay for Amy to use in Vila. They stayed for a few hours. I'm invited to come to the chili cook off in Niku Friday. After they left, me and Tony (the village health worker) started walking to Alack to storian with the vice-chairman of the aid post committee but when we were almost there we learned he had never received our note of 23 April and was in Rovo Bay working. So, we turned around and went back to Rovo Bay. We storied smol and agreed to set an APC meeting after me and Tony get back from Vila.

Days of Our Lives; I Ate a Bat; I Dedicated (Another) Solar Panel

This is the aid post where I work.

30 March: (27 easy push ups, 33 hard ones) The new solar panel at the Mama's center in Yapuna needed dedicating and I was invited to represent the Peace Corps. Simion (host dad) said to be there by 1 pm; I was. I walked over with Alili, Tony and one other guy. Then we waited for nearly three hours on a mat under a tree (island time). Once it got started it was pretty standard procedure: you're presented with a ceremonial necklace, sit through a boring sermon from the pastor, clap, space out during a couple of boring speeches, clap some more, stand up and say a few words on behalf of the good 'ol US of A, everybody else claps, pray some more, receive a ceremonial mat and--in this case--a ceremonial yam, then kava time. I gave my kava to an elder because I didn't feel like throwing up all night. Afterwards the chief led me on an inspection tour of the house they're building for the future Peace Corps volunteer who'll be arriving in November. Then kakae (eat) and back to Malvasi.

16 March: (26 easy, 29 hard) Good sun today but plenty rain after dark. I was able to charge up the laptop enough to watch about half a "West Wing". Marko--Simion's brother--somehow managed to capture a bat and its ted up upside down. The Ni-Vans like to torture it by poking it with a stick.

March 17: I weighed 57 kilos. 23 easy push ups, 30 hard. Good sun, light rain only. Ate, swam and read in the AM as usual. Also, Terekea (PC staff) came through Malvasi on her way back to the airport and Port Vila. She stopped in for about two minutes to say hi. The cell tower on Lamen Island started working again after another week long break down--talked to Ryan (PC Vol on Pentecost) and Nelsine (PC doctor). The Ni-Vans killed that bat Marko caught the other day and cooked it. I tried a couple of nibbles. It was truly vile. It was tough and gamey and tasted exactly like it smelled in life (like burning tires). Attlee really liked it, though. Spent all afternoon at the aid post.

The bat came in a bowl of taro with coconut milk. Taro is really good and in my neck of the bush it's a rare enough treat that I was mildly disappointed they'd ruined a perfectly good bowl of it was throwing in a bat wing. And it was a bat wing, all leathery and stuff. Yuck. "Oh, Vanuatu..."

This is the MV Brisk. It's the boat I rode back to the island after my first IST (in-service training) in February. I took this photo from the beach where it dropped me off in Lamen Bay.

Hello again; Meet Attlee; The House; The Sun

The house.

This is my new dog. His name is Attlee. He's named after former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1945-1951), the creater of the National Health Service. He's like four months old. He nearly died once--just like me--but he pulled through. I'm trying to teach him tricks.

I'm not dead and I managed to gain back some of the weight I lost. I still walk around without a shirt pretty much all the time.

The sun frequently sets on Epi, as often as once a day. It's not always this spectacular but I've started photographing sunsets all the time anyway.