A Travellerspoint blog

My Six and Eight Legged Enemies

Inspired by Kate in Kenya

We have been thoroughly entertained by Kel’s friend Kate, who is doing some volunteer work and living in a village in Kenya, and her descriptions of her terrifying insect encounters. So I’ve been inspired to share with you some of my terrors as well…

The Mozzies
Least terrifying but perhaps most annoying are the mosquitoes. The ones that carry malaria aren’t too significant looking, they’re small (of course the malaria is a concern but not at this time of year) but there are some huge ones. I came back from the shower one evening exhausted after trying to avoid being carried off by one persistent little blighter.

Invisible Headlice
This one is especially for my sister, Min, who has a bit of a phobia, understandable when she was hairdressing.
All the kids here have headlice and they regularly check each other’s hair, parting their frizzy locks to search for the lice. One day I had some girls come and sit with me while Nic was in Vila (I think they worried I was lonely) and they started this head-checking procedure. They obviously thought I didn’t know what headlice were so whenever they found one, they gave it to me to look at and squash! Ever since then, my head has been itchy but Nic’s had no luck finding my invisible lice!

Beetle Laplap
Finally, one insect that got Nic instead of me. At the mother’s day feast in front of the nakamal we sat and ate laplap. The lighting wasn’t very good, we’d had a shell of kava and we aren’t yet really up on all the types of laplap yet but Nic was pretty sure that the mouthful that contained a bettle wasn’t actually supposed to. He said it made his lip go numb (like kava) so perhaps it could be used for a new line of local cocktails…

1000001 Flies
The toilet here isn’t exactly a treat in the first place but I drew the line at sharing it with this many others. I went in after dark one night and the previously writhing mass at the bottom of the long drop had obviously matured into adult flies and all took flight towards the light I was carrying, this might have been OK except I had on the headlamp and I got a face-full of blowies! The mortein was never before such a praised purchase.

Another toilet story. Our long drop is regularly invaded by cockroaches that are so big they would easily carry off a bullock. I generally take the same action as I did with the flies and douse them in mortein but just this week when I tried this the ‘roach took off out one of the many gaps in the toilet wall. Thinking I was safe I prepared to go when the beast came back in and in search of the safety of darkness ran straight up the leg of my fish-pants. I issued a squeal of terror that apparently went unnoticed or ignored by everyone but Nic. (Just the white woman screaming about something in the toilet again!)

The “Huntsman”
They have a spider here which looks much like a huntsman and is also harmless but it moves much faster. Nic and I have chased a couple around our house before but this time it was much worse. We were getting ready to go for a swim so I grabbed my towel to wrap around my boardshorts (which is the culturally appropriate thing to do, nobody is meant to see women walking around away from their house in pants) and we were just about to leave when I felt something inside the leg of my shorts. I slapped the offending area and out fell the biggest spider I had seen yet and it fell writhing in it’s death throes to the floor. In the meantime I had shot across to the other side of the room and commenced sobbing and rocking in the foetal position. Nic finished off the spider but I was still too scared to let him bring it past me to throw it out the door! I’m sure most of you know my fear of all things eight-legged and you’ll understand that I jumped at shadows and every tickle of clothes or breeze for days!

That’s about it for the time being (let’s hope that’s all the insect stories I have while we’re here!!!)

Posted by debnic 00:15 Archived in Vanuatu Comments (3)


Halo ol yufela blong Australia!
Firstly, sorry about the photos on the last blog entry. We were trying something different and it obviously didn’t work.
School started 2 weeks ago and although it has taken 2 weeks for them to get used to me, most of the kids are attending now. So the time Deb’s had to just sit around under our verandah has been greatly reduced (but I’m still managing - Deb). Since the last photo of the house, the verandah has been renovated again. It now has low woven walls and open lattice windows all made of bamboo. The theory behind this was to reduce the risk of spectator injury during the regular afternoon soccer matches (our verandah is directly behind one set of goals so it’s a good viewing position but a bit risky!) Nic helped John (the principal’s husband), Milla (their son) and Robert (the school handy man) create the structure. Robert finds Nic constantly amusing and he laughs at EVERYTHING Nic says (even “hello”)!
We really have been welcomed with open arms here and the past week has been testament to that. Last Friday a group of people came from the village to do weeding and tidying up around the school (all with bush knives, even the small children!) Leipakoa (the principal) explained that they came because they were all from her and John’s tribe, Matonglai, and asked us to be part of their tribe as well. The men all call each other “brother” and the women are all “sisters”. But they are also all fathers and mothers to all the children of the tribe. So now we have pikininis and yesterday was Mother’s Day in Nikaura!
The day began with John and Milla making Leipakoa and Deb a breakfast of fresh bread, avocado and fried egg. Next came James (another of Leipakoa and John’s sons who also lives in the village) and his family with kato (type of dohnut), a salu-salu (lei) and an island dress for Deb. His family also cooked us lunch. In the afternoon we went into town for speeches honouring all the “mamas” from the chief, the fathers and the youth. Deb got more gifts from the head elder of the village and then we had a handshaking ceremony where all the mamas lined up and the rest of the village lined up opposite and the filed along shaking all our hands. And then, of course there was more food! Every kind of laplap you can image, rice, soup, symboro (grated manioc wrapped in island cabbage) and plates of it just kept arriving at our mat. There was no way we could have finished even half of it! (but it was fun trying – Nic).
We continue to be given gifts of food. Wednesday we were given a pawpaw that we might actually be able to eat. The one before that was literally 50cm long! No way 2 people can eat that in one day, and they just don’t keep. We were given a bunch of bananas too. Not a hand – a bunch. About 40 bananas for us to eat in probably a week (they are delicious though, better than in Melbourne.) Sometimes we do have to buy vegies though. We bought a bag of kumala (sweet potato) for 40vt (50cents). It had 16 kumala in it! Enough for 6 meals.
So, we’re living well and having a great time. Nic has even met Mike, the local Peace Corp, and is working on developing a project that will work in with what Mike is already doing at the bungalow. Things are working out.
Thank you SO much to all the people who have emailed, posted letters or posted a message on the blog. We love hearing from you, coz then you don’t feel so far away!
Lukum yu!
Deb trying her hand at local cooking - grating yam to make laplap!

Posted by debnic 05:04 Comments (2)

Firstaem mitufala go long Epi (part 2)

The second kitchen (with cooking fire) on the right and the path specially mown for us to our toilet. Due to the many other people around it has been used by others so they have put up a sign that reads: "Toilet ia blong tufala waetman nomo. Tanku tumas" This toilet is for the two white people only. Thank you.

My new shadow, the principal's granddaughter, Josephine. She has become somewhat of a shadow, following us everywhere and often visits to see what we're doing, climb on our laps, play with my hair and share (our) food with us! She's a little "stronghead" and (to put her in context for the van den Bronk family) she reminds us a great deal of Igochi when she was small, she has the same way of strutting around. She looks a bit shy in this photo, the camera doesn't always tell the truth!!!

The front of our house with the newly erected verandah for us to sit under (we just learnt it is not water proof but it is a good bit of shade!)

I have only just come back to Nikaura as the principal went off to a teaching workshop on literacy for a week and after being there for a day she sent for me. The message got to me as we were walking through town and a woman just stopped me as she was going into the shower to ask if I was the volunteer at the school (there are a couple of other white people around with the youth conference so it would be hard for them to know why we're here at this point). She told me that the "headmistress" had sent a message that I should join her so I got to go to the workshop where I met up with Priscilla, who was one of the facilitators (the teacher who was Em's counterpart at Fres Wota school last year) and Claire who is Em's replacement!

We're able to put up this blog because Nic is going into Vila to do a tour of the Roi Mata sites which is a tourism project that a couple of other Australian & an American volunteer have been working on so he can kill two birds with one stone and will put this up when he gets there.

We were just visited by a young woman from the village who came to give us a pawpaw for no apparent reason other than to welcome us. The children in the village still stare when we walk past and giggle after they say hello.... everyone has been lovely, it's great to be on the island!

Miss you all!
Lukum yu nekis taem!

Posted by debnic 15:23 Comments (2)

Firstaem mitufala go long Epi (part 1)

(that hopefully translates as "The first time we go to Epi")
How did I go, Em?
We arrived in Epi after a really slow boat ride, due to the rough conditions, at 2:30am (we were 'scheduled' to arrive at about 11pm to midnight) Needless to say we were pretty happy to get onto dry land, the highlight as we got into the wharf was seeing jumping fish in the spotlights being shone by the boats crew.
Our arrival happened to coincide with the National Youth Conference which is being hosted by Nikaura this year. So we have turned up to a much inflated population (there are about 500 youth delegates here for the conference - Nic thinks only 350 but I'm not sure!) And there's plenty going on.
We were also welcomed to the island by the volcano, Lopevi, quietly bubbling away. It was in fact, our first view of the island as we arrived in pitch darkness and could see the lava in the distance. Lopevi is only about 10km away from us in Nikaura and we have replaced watching TV with sitting out on the beach watching a volcano erupt!
Here are a few quick happy snaps from our new place.
Our bedroom resplendent in blue mozzie netting:

Posted by debnic 15:18 Comments (1)

a departure date


Today we received our departure date.
We will be jetting off next Tuesday afternoon and arriving in Port Vila in the evening.
It's all very exciting but there is now a lot to get done in the next 5 days...

The next time you hear from us we will be in Vanuatu!

Posted by debnic 20:43 Comments (4)

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