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
Our hands dangled down making trails in the water as the group of us were transported by boat from our island of Efate to a tiny island just off the coastline.
Iririki Island is a tiny island accessible only by boat. It is a tourist destination for people visiting Vanuatu owned by two Australian investors who originally set it up just over 15 years ago. The island is absolutely adorable, and has a range of accomodations from the luxury cabanas on the beach front to little apartments a few hundred yards from the beach. All together it has 132 different sleeping places.
If you aren’t staying on the island but still want to enjoy some of the fun things there for only $15 a person you can get a ride in the boat to the island, and spend the day playing tennis, using the pools, going snorkeling with their equipment, getting free childcare, using the kayaks and getting food.
I’d seen the island as we drove by through the window of our car, and it’s adorable beach cabanas instantly had me sold. We gathered our family and a few friends nearby and spent the day together. It was actually so beautiful. It’s like we forgot entirely that we were living in a third world country.
The beautiful crystal clear pools, fancy restaurants and darling signs made us all feel like we were being spoiled in some expensive resort on a tropical vacation far away.
Of course there were a few times when the cultural ‘lost in translation’ moments occurred (like when we ordered pizza- but that’s a separate story) and when Dustin went to the bathroom and saw this sign…
But overall the hours passed by with happy memories of exploring shipwrecks, climbing sunken masts, cramming into golf carts, kayaking, snorkeling and swimming in lovely blue pools.
Besides one scare when the baby took off his life jacket and jumped into the deep end of the pool before we could stop him (he was promptly rescued by my amazing, husband) it was a perfect day.
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 🙂
I woke up to a freshly picked bouquet of Island flowers gathered from my own back yard and given to me by two of my sweet children.
Eric brought me breakfast in bed with the tropical milkshake and an omelet. The tropical milkshake tasted a bit odd but I tried to be polite as I drank it. After Eric tried one taste he realized that what he had thought was powdered sugar was actually tapioca starch, and after a good laugh he didn’t make me finish the rest of my drink!
The omelet was delicious however.
It was Sunday today and we were all excited to go to church because Lindy and Dustin were going to be speaking which meant the talks would be in English.
When we got to church we were so surprised to see the way that Mother’s Day was celebrated.
First each mother was given a flower lei.
Hundreds of hand cut streamers hung down from the ceiling and were blowing in the breeze.
Signs that said happy Mother’s Day which looked like they were written and decorated by some creative man we’re posted all over with scriptures underneath.
I’m not used to our chapel being decorated in such a festive manner, but the children were delighted with the Decor and it was obvious that the Islanders love their mothers.
After church was over the men brought out a very large cake that said happy Mother’s Day on it. They said they had a special program for just the mothers. As we sat in the hot chapel we had the privilege of having an entire additional Sunday meeting consisting of an opening and closing prayer, an opening and closing hymn, two musical numbers, and four or five talks (all in Bislama of course!)
The primary came in and sang the most precious song to us, as did the youth.
Afterwards there was an announcement that there would be special food for the mothers.
We went outside and we were first served chocolate cake, then we were served lollipops, then we were served chocolate icing on white soda crackers. It was all quite darling.
There were ten matching plates and a pile of mismatch dishes were being quickly washed in preparation for the meal, there were also six glass cups. After they were washed a meal was served on them and given to the mothers first. As soon as the meal was eaten one or two of the men would come up, whisk the plate away, wash it under the outside tap and bring it back for someone else to enjoy a meal.
It was kind of strange having everyone stare at you while you ate because they had nothing else to do while they waited for their own plate. After a little while some of the other women who lived nearby saw what was happening and went to their houses & brought their dishes to add to the collection so more people could eat at once. It was very sweet, and although so different than how I normally experience Mother’s Day but was absolutely perfect and something I will NEVER forget!
The night was late and we had just crawled into bed when I heard a man yelling- well screaming really, outside.
I was afraid to look out the window and see who was being murdered, but when I finally mustered up the courage all that came into view was a fire burning in my neighbors yard- nothing unusual.
I guess Eric and I must have been feeling adverterous because just in case we both grabbed a machetes and ventured outside to see what all the commotion was about.
Happily we discovered that there were no drunk crazy men running around, it was just my brother. He is sometimes crazy but rarely drunk 😉 He and some locals were now just standing around the fire laughing.
When I inquired after the loud yells he told me a wandering dog had taken hold of the pig he was preparing to roast and he had to scream loudly -very loudly, to chase it away.
I had forgotten that Dustin was doing a pig roast to celebrate his son’s baptism the next day. He had two Nevans there helping him prepare the whole thing.
Even though my bed was calling the process was too fascinating not to stay and watch. So I took A whole bunch of pictures so I can share them with you guys.
The men had started the fire at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. They were then back around 10:00pm to prepare the pig and put it in the pit for toasting overnight. After brining and cutting, chopping and stuffing, digging and covering, They finally got finished at nearly 1:00 am. We were all so tired that when they told us that they would need to comeback at 4:00am to check on it we insisted that it would be fine if they waited until morning.
Sure enough they were back first thing in the morning. After digging up the pit, removing the tarp and hot stones they uncovered the pig which was roasted to perfection!
Ezra cut it up for everyone as the mouth watering aroma spread throughout the neighbourhood.
There certainly were no disappointed taste buds after that meal, and there was so much food left over that Dustin had to send everyone home with some. Everyone was impressed that he’d be willing to share such a fantastic beast, and were all so grateful for his gift. It was like the pig that just kept giving 🙂
The house girls makes it look so easy. When I was living at my brothers house his house girl Matilda did all the laundry, but now that we’ve moved into our own house (right next door) I get to do it 🙂 No problem, this mom of 7 has done laundry aplenty- well at least I thought I had. I realized today that laundry day in the tropics is quite different than laundry day at home. Are you interested in finding out how we do it?
I’ll give you little tutorial…
1. Remove the cockroach protection cloth from the washing machine.
2. Open the lid and fill it with clothes and soap.
3. Hook up the outdoor cable to electricity.
4. Hook up water to the machine.
5. Press start and wait for the water to fill up the laundry machine.
6. Wait 15 minutes while it agitates and then turn it to the next stage- drain.
7. Wait 15 minutes and then turn it to its next stage- spin.
8. Wait 15 minutes and turn it to rinse.
9. Wait 15 minutes and turn it to drain and final spin.
10. Remove clothes from washing machine and hang on outdoor laundry line.
11. Leave until Dry. This can take several days as tropical rain storms come quickly and with a vengeance. (My load from 5 days ago is still on the line).
There you have it. 11 easy steps and a few hours of sunshine and one load of your laundry is clean! I’m sure there is some sort of lesson I could learn from doing laundry the hard/long way but I haven’t figured out what it could be yet. Maybe next laundry day something will come to me!
Of course we bought it all from the market, fresh, island grown organic produce. YUM! We could have bought a frozen McCains pizza for $22USD, a box of Cocoa Puffs for $15.00USD or a container of yogurt for $14.00USD, but I couldn’t afford those things 🙂
We did splurge and buy a battery operated radio, two water storage containers and a bunch of flashlights, oh I almost forgot and a bouquet of fresh flowers. I got the flowers because if I’m stuck inside for two days I wanted it to be pretty:)
I’ll let you know how long this lasts.
By the way, I just found out the the locals have a special name for the house we live in, Cyclone Kaikai. This directly relates to rest of this post because the name translates to cyclone food…yikes!
I have a million things everyday that I could post about. Lucky for you guys my internet is so slow that I only can post about a few.
Today I’m going to tell you about an amazing beach that we found after driving up and down a scary jungle road. It was beautiful white sand and corral with sea glass spread all over it, more seaglass then I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Too much Seaglass to even pick up!!
We were having such a wonderful time in the warm shallow water until the local man came up and said the reason there was nobody was there was because the cyclone was coming our way.
The last I had heard it wasn’t going to hit us so that’s why we went out adventuring. We evacuated quickly And came home!
Everybody was starving and the baskets that are normally spilling over with fruit on the counter were empty. This could only mean one thing- It was Market Time!!! I absolutely love the fruit markets here- they are simply too wonderful to resist.
Lindy and I hopped in the truck and we took a few kids with us. We decided to run to the smaller market that was just down the road.
Villagers gathered together laughing and chatting under the shade of a giant mango tree displaying their fruits and vegetables on the ground and on their makeshift tables. Cars passed by, and people shouted greetings to each other as they went on their ways.
The day was scorching hot but none of them even seemed to notice or be distressed by the temperature.
We hopped out of our icy cold air conditioned truck and left it running while we went to pick out the things that we wanted nearby.
At the markets people gather the food that they have grown from their villages and sell them to each other.
At the big market they spend the night all night long on mats on the floor and stay there throughout the week until they go home Saturday night.
The big market is open from early in the morning till 10 o’clock at night. On Sunday it is closed and everyone returns to be with their family, until they begin again on Monday morning.
Because this was just a small market people only were there during the day. Each woman bringing food from her garden to trade, sell and share with the rest of the community. There was piles of beautifully colored pineapple stacked high, baskets of pamplamouse, bunches of coconuts hung together.
After surveying the mismatch collection of fresh fish, squawking chickens, and fruits and vegetables, I saw a lovely bouquet of tropical flowers calling my name and could not resist getting them for the table.
It cost 200 Vatu or $2 US dollars for the Bouquet. But when I went to get the Vatu and come back to pay the lady she had added two additional bouquets to the one that I chose for free. I tried to pay her for all three but she insisted with her toothless smile that they were a gift. I was pretty excited to have such a lovely display of beautifullness that I accepted the gift with the traditional ‘tank yu, tumas’.
Just before leaving I thought I’d ask if we could take her picture. The mere request delighted her immensely and after posing for the picture and then inspecting it to make sure it was good she kissed me goodbye as though we were old friends. By this time Lindy and the girls had gathered their arms full of fruits and none of us had any room left in our
Everyone here seems so kind, friendly, generous, and happy.