Like many Peace Corps volunteers, Alex and Lucas' home is blessed with a picturesque setting amidst the rugged wilderness of northern Pentecost. Their house is actually perched at the edge of a heavily forested cliff that sort of gradually rolls down into the sea. The picture with the ship in it is the view from their front yard. The ship is the MV Tina I, sister ship of the Brisk and reputedly the nicest one in the Vanuatu merchant fleet. I've never been on it but it certainly looks bigger than Brisk. The other picture is the view from Alex and Lucas' latrine (or "smol haos" in Bislama). That's right, whenever you have to "make a deposit" down at the "office", you have this breathtaking view of the ocean and distant Maewo.
This is a picture of Alex's work site, Tari Ilo Dispensary. Her counterpart is a nurse there and Alex works with her on a regular basis. Dispensaries in Vanuatu are the most advanced medical care and the largest health facilities people in the outer islands have access to. It's not like health care back home. There usually aren't trained doctors or sometimes even nurses at outer island dispensaries. I'm not sure what the level of training there is, but on Epi the health center is over seen by a guy who--I think--has had some nurse training but certainly wouldn't qualify as an RN back home.
Here's what I look like these days. My hair is still really blond and my beard is starting to get a little out of control again (I'm going to try to find some beard trimming scissors or something while I'm here in Vila) and I broke my other pair of glasses. The nice thing about winter is that I don't have to walk around shirtless all the time anymore which is good because having to do so is embarrassing for skinny dudes like me. Winter in the tropics, I've discovered, is my ideal climactic zone: spring-like in the day, early to mid-fall-like in the evenings. Some rain but no more Biblical floods. And with the humidity summering in the northern hemisphere--primarily in Oklahoma, I suspect--it no longer feels like I live on the surface of Venus.
One day in Pentecost, we bought our lunch at the local market. Mine came with a surprise: a chicken foot, still clenched in pain from being hacked off by someone's bush knife (just kidding...probably). I elected to give the foot to Alex and Lucas' cat instead of eating it myself, but the "Oh, Vanuatu..." moment it provided me was far more delicious than any cut of meat.