A Travellerspoint blog

The Washing Line

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Some of you (probably most of you) know a thing or two more than me about general housework and, in particular, washing clothes. And you’re probably shaking your head in exasperation at how I’ve bunched these clothes onto the line and saying to yourselves, “Debra, that’s no way to get your washing dry... and what were you thinking mixing up the colours like that?!” Well, I can explain. This is not, as it first appears, my washing. It’s much worse than that. These are clothes that I’ve already washed (by hand), hung up, dried, brought inside, folded and put away... and now they’re back on the line being aired!

The humidity dropped from 80 to 72% this morning and a fair breeze sprang up so it was a good day to put my wardrobe out to air. We’ve had some problems with clean clothes going mouldy before we get to wear them. Nic’s leather belt is a write-off too. Ah, the delights of a tropical paradise – they don’t mention mouldy clothes in the Lonely Planet!

Posted by debnic 17:33 Comments (3)

Happy Silly Season

to all and to all a goodnight!

Well, by now the silliest of the silly season should be behind us all and there’s only the leftovers to eat for the next couple of weeks (not an issue around here – everyone eats what there is to eat as there’s no way of “keeping” things for very long anyway).

We’ve had a bit in the way of the wet season so far but nothing compared to what we expected (or feared). It has been humid, sometimes up to 98% humidity, but there has also been the occasional reprieve where the temp and the humidity have dropped. So at least there’s been some respite.

Yesterday was Christmas Day and we spent it in the village. The day started out with breakfast at the nakamal of bread and very sweet citrus tea. The bakers were at it all night – almost literally, they were baking when we headed home from carols on Christmas Eve and were still going when I got up to go to the loo at 4am!

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Drinkti with our friend Neti

After breakfast (“drinkti” in Bislama) we went back home with a chunk of beef to make something to share back at the nakamal for lunch. (Yes, our vegetarianism has been put on hold a bit but we draw the line at pork!) This is usually a soup but we decided to be daring and make a really weak curry. The food eaten locally is not spicy at all, the ni-Vanuatu prefer to enjoy the flavours of the fresh meat and vegies that they eat rather than drowning them out with, say, chilli like I do! The men were already cooking the rice to go with the soup (and our curry) at breakfast time in the hugest pots you’ve ever seen.

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After lunch we wandered back home again to “spel smol” (rest a bit) and to wait for the tamtam (slit drum) to ring to signal that it was time to come back and exchange gifts in a Kris Kringle-type affair. It was good fun. I got an island dress and Nic was given a woven and shell decoration to hang on our wall.

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Later in the evening we went into the village again to say Happy Birthday to a little girl, Christina, who shares her birthday with Christmas. We hoped to just duck in the back and give our wishes but when we were spotted by the hosts we were ushered up to special seats in the front of the room and plied with food and drinks.... hmm I could get used to this star treatment, might be a bit ego-crushing to come back home! :)

That was our Christmas day – I hope all yours were as relaxed and unburdened by travel and rushing as ours but I think that might be asking a bit much. Hope you all had a good time anyway!

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All the "mamas" wearing their island dresses have to dance when the string band play the island dress song!

Posted by debnic 17:25 Comments (1)

Getting away from “Getting away from it all”

We have taken a trip to escape the daily grind of our tropical paradise. We’re celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in another tropical paradise in south Epi, at Epi Guest House.IMGP3909.jpg

Great company, excellent food, space to sprawl, and cute Aussie cattle dog all included. We highly recommend it!
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As cushy as that sounds we have made it a kind of working holiday by stopping along the way at the schools down here to talk to the head teachers. I’ve offered to bring the teacher workshops, which I developed at Nikaura, to their schools next year and they were very enthusiastic. I’ll write up the details and send them to the schools in question in a letter – still the easiest way to communicate here! Nic is also looking at the tourism side of things and how they have it all running here – a sort of “industrial espionage” (don’t tell our hosts, Rob and Alex!)

The gardens at the Epi Guest House are exceptional. Here is just one of the many Hibiscus.IMGP3903.jpg

Posted by debnic 22:09 Comments (3)

Help in the Garden.

Oh, how lucky we are to grow our own vegetables, and how lucky to have so much help. A local pig was kind enough to help us harvest our kumala (sweet potatoes) and asked only a small payment – the said kumala – for her efforts. She also thinned out the pumpkin leaves for us, which were getting totally out of hand and hiding all the pumpkins. Thanks, pig!
The family who own the gardening pig heard of her efforts and decided that her fee was a bit too high so they reimbursed us with a table load of food from their gardens.

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This “reimbursement” is, in fact, a local custom known as a “sorry ceremony” and is used for all manner of smoothing the waters when a wrong has been done. It can be much more complex than this, of course, involving payment of slaughtered pigs and kava. In our case we didn’t feel that the lost kumala was that significant but the people of Nikaura felt it was important to repay the “debt”. Of course, we were most happy to accept the offered goodies (and if you check the number of bananas on the table, the $ amount is probably well into the 100s! Possibly enough to repay our mortgage!!!)

Posted by debnic 22:04 Comments (1)

Living in Fowl Times

The title of this blog entry comes from Earth Garden magazine (I highly recommend it) and is courtesy of the fact that we now have two chickens. The first was a Father’s Day gift from Milla and James (the sons of the head teacher). She is a white chook who has just started laying. We are about to enjoy her first offerings in pancakes for lunch! The second is a day old chick whose Mum deserted her (we hope it’s a she).
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Soso brought her around to show us yesterday and Deb held it for a while. We then returned it to the nest it came from but an hour later it came back to our house and sat at Deb’s feet – obviously it decided Deb would be its ‘primary carer’. The challenge has been taken on. Although it lives in a box it prefers our laps and is currently sitting in a small gap under the warm laptop on my lap! Luxury accommodation!
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Dingo is a bit jealous but so far has only had it in his mouth once and only flattened it with his paw twice. If it survives his affections we think they may become friends.

In addition to our chickens we have a visitor in our outside kitchen. Another chicken is hatching nine eggs there – she moved in while we were visiting Australia.

Yes, we have been back home briefly. We were lucky enough to be invited to Emily and Hugo’s wedding. Emily is a colleague of Deb’s from Rowville Secondary College and was in Vanuatu last year as a volunteer. The wedding was beautiful, held in Canberra’s Botanic Gardens. It totally suited the happy couple. We also met a few ex-volunteer friends of Emily and Hugo from their Vanuatu days. It was fun to compare notes.

The rest of the trip was spent with family and friends in Melbourne. It was fantastic to catch up but all too short and very tiring. It was much harder to say goodbye this time round. We were welcomed back into the village and are now back into our projects (when we’re not playing adoptive Mum to day old chicks or massaging the bruised ego of a displaced dog!)

Posted by debnic 16:35 Comments (3)

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