“It’s cancer of the blood”…

Image may contain: plant, drink and flowerMy house girl translated into English as I waved money counter clockwise around my head and handed it over to the man  Рthe Medicine Man Рsitting 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.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, tree, outdoor and nature

¬†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.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor

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.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
Vanuatu Living-Local Medicine Man

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

Write A Comment