We have discovered since moving to Vanuatu that in some places there are 10 ways to die, and in other places there are 100 ways to die. Vanuatu must be one of the places that has a hundred ways to die!
So far we’ve discovered a few possibilities as follows:
Coconut Falling on your head
Falling out of a tree
Getting stabbed by a crazy drunk man
Getting bit by a centipede
Dying from Infection
Stabbing yourself while husking a coconut
Getting attacked by wild dogs
Sadly we are becoming acquainted with quite a few of these ways, and I’m quite sure as time goes on I’ll find many more to add to my list!
Tonight our poor 17 year old daughter got attacked by wild dogs while riding the quad through a nearby village. She received 2 puncture wounds and a big scrape. The dog actually bit her leg while they were driving and hung on as they kept going. It’s gross. She is still trying to decide if she’d rather be stitched up with no freezing or go to the sketchy hospital.
My house girl translated into English as I waved money counter clockwise around my head and handed it over to the man – the Medicine Man – sitting cross legged on a chair in my kitchen.
The words I had spoken only a few hours earlier still hadn’t left my mind. “Whatever you do don’t make me talk to him”, I had emphatically reminded my husband as he went out the door.
Eric had the girls and our Gardner and was going to find an island medicine man to see if he might be able to help me solve some growing health concerns. But being the skeptic that I am the LAST thing I wanted was to actually have to talk to the guy myself.
Somehow that message must have gotten lost in translation (although I thought Eric spoke English ), because before I knew it, Eric was driving a car full of people and pulling into our yard.
Before I could understand what was happening I was lying down on a bed and being asked questions in front of everyone such as “when your woman comes out is it small or big” and “when you go to the bathroom is it hot or cold”, and “are you on family planning?”. Really? How do they even know the word ” family planning here?”sigh… Thankfully Judy translated for me and was discreet in taking me aside to another room to ask me in English.
Finally he pulled out these used bottles re-purposed to hold his herbal “potion” which had been picked that morning and specially brewed just for me. Of course when he told me to “drink”, he hadn’t yet explained what the terms were for our little “health consultation” In this land where visits to the hospital often cost our equivalent of $5.00, I was being charged $30.00 for his services.
But wait there’s more!
Apparently giving him money wasn’t good enough because I also had to do a ritual with the money. When this was translated into English I burst out laughing and shook my head” no”.
I explained that I was happy to pay money, and if the medicine was going to work then it was going to work with or without me waving it around my head. When this was translated into Bislama, I was met by the company of local men and women with blank stares and surprised silence. I guess “no” was not the answer everybody was looking for.
I desperately looked towards my husband for some validation, however with a half smile on his face he said “what could it hurt?”
Maybe he said that because he didn’t want to risk offending our guests or perhaps it was just so he could get the pleasure of laughing at me. Either way this was war.
After all the questions, and finally getting 3,000 vt around my head in the correct direction for the right amount of times and then wrapping it up in a piece of white paper and writing my name on it, I was very delighted when the medicine man insisted that my 15-year-old daughter must do the same thing.
Eliza had been sitting beside me watching with wide eyes and a grin the whole time looking quite entertained. Suddenly she was less impressed and it was my turn to laugh! After she obediently also waved the money around her head the medicine man surprised us both as he gave her a bottle of the medicine and told her to “drink”. Her grin had certainly disappeared by now! And to tell you the truth, I was quite happy to know I wasn’t the only one being experimented on. Turns out that Analaea was next on his list of culprits.
“Now, you drink three more of these bottles and you will be healed”, the gardener translated.
“But whatever you do, don’t eat coconuts or go into saltwater for at least 24 hours….”
Uh huh. What????
I was still sitting in shock that I had fallen for the whole waving the money around my head thing.
After the medicine man left the house girl explained that on her island the traditional medicine won’t work if you receive money in return for it.
Hmmm, so I may not be healed after all. I am quite certain that if my dad was here he would’ve been delighted in the entire experience, however, because he wasn’t here I just feel like that was a very stressful way to lose 30 bucks.
So my friends the moral of the story is be careful what you drink, it could cost you…oh and if you are Eric reading this, I’m sorry you’re still in the doghouse
I’m not a bug a girl, but they’ve never worried me too much either. Since coming to Vanuatu the house we are staying in has a lot, and I mean ALOT of 🐜 bugs. Giant spiders the size of my iPhone…
Cockroaches and of course the dreaded bug- THE CENTIPEDE…
…its bite is so venomous that even the locals are afraid. With 106 legs it can move fast and it’s thin body makes hiding a breeze. The locals say it’s possible for small children and babies to die from the bite but adults cannot. It just hurts terribly as I’ve been told.
I admit I’ve been paranoid about the centipede since first coming here. The fact that we have found seven inside our house hasn’t helped.
Every night before bed I lift up all the sheets and pillows and make sure there aren’t any centipedes in the bed. I also check the babies bed religiously before laying him down to sleep each night. The other girls- well they can fend for themselves…
I decided before I went to bed tonight to just ask God if He could just reassure me that I wouldn’t get bit by a centipede while I was here. That way I could stop worrying about it. Tonight when I was peacefully sleeping with all the members of the whole house who were also peacefully sleeping. I turned over and felt what felt like two needles being pressed without relief deep into my skin. I startled awake, opened my eyes up wide and threw back the thin sheet we sleep with, just in time to see that dreaded bug slither across the bed covers between the sheets. After successfully biting me it was afraid I’m sure because it quickly disappeared under the mattress.
Centipedes don’t die easily or gracefully, if you cut them up the various pieces go on living and grow back bodies. Once killed they can still sting you. You have to cut them and then burn them, or cut and smash and bury them.
Now it’s midnight and I have been sitting here holding a scalding hot cloth on my arm as the sharp red pain sporting fang marks ( I have no idea if they even have fangs ) spreads slowly down the back of my arm.
I’m a wimp- this centipede was only half the full grown size but It hurts- and I now HATE bugs, and I will probably never fall asleep again without imaging centipedes attacking me. And the sound of the ocean outside and the palm trees and warm tropical air are not quite as persuasive as they were yesterday.
And by the way/ we found out that centipede and gave it death by spray, smashing and flushing. I think it did the trick. I really, REALLY hope nobody else gets bit by one of those slithery, creepy crawlers again.
As for my prayer last night- I figure that God heard me and then said to himself, “I’ll just let her get bit by the centipede tonight so it’s all over with and then she will see that she is strong and there is no need to worry.” God is pretty smart- and I think the ways He answers our prayers sometimes are funny, but He does answer them and thats nice!
Mmmm, the aroma of the freshly grilled pizza as it got laid in front of us was amazing. I was pretty excited because pizza costs a lot of money here and cheese is super expensive so making your own isn’t really financially sustainable either.
We had splurged a little today because we were out visiting a nearby resort and we had to take a boat to get there. They implemented a strict “no food on the island” rule to get people to spend their money buying from the expensive restaurants. The kids were quite hungry and we really couldn’t avoid feeding them and since pizza at $18 USD a pizza was the cheapest thing on the menu we ordered that.
After we prayed over our food we all dug in and grabbed a slice. This particular one was Mediterranean pizza. The description under the name on the menu said “an assortment of Mediterranean vegetables.” I started to look at the pizza a little closer after taking one bite. Something was off. There were giant carrot sticks, squash cubes and pickles on my pizza. No joke- the ‘Mediterranean Vegetables’ were definitely more unique than expecting 🙂
I have honestly never tasted anything quite like it. When my sister ordered the same pizza a few minutes later hers had little cubes of peas and carrots all over it. Not sure what Mediterranean vegetable really are but I’m quite sure that I chose the healthiest pizza in the world to eat today 🙂