Ifira Island

We wanted to see the turtles and the local man told us that little tiny island off the coast of Efate was the place to go. After parking your car you were supposed to walk to the dock or wait until someone in a boat offers to drive you. Once they arrive you pay them 1$ for each person in the boat and get dropped off at your choice of spots on the little island.

It worked! We waited on the dock and within a few minutes a boat showed up and offered to drive us. In went the Women, in went the children, and in went the men, then when you thought we couldn’t possibly fit another person, in went the jugs of water, the bundles of coconuts, and the bags of groceries. It was epic, and kinda stressful-I was so glad the boys had their floaty suits on!

Apparently they have no safety regulations for exactly how many people can fit in a boat. And in order to make the most money in each trip they really piled us in!!!

At first I thought maybe the island was so close that it didn’t matter if we sunk or not, but it took a good half an hour at least on the ocean to get there.

The day was bright and sunny, and the water was so crystal clear and turquoise blue that you could see right to the bottom. Isaiah could not resist dragging his hand through the water as the boat moved forward and I couldn’t blame him.

Because the tide was out when the boat driver was dropping people off there were places where he had to pull up the engine, hop into the water and push the boat over the coral growing in the white sand beneath us just to get people close enough to the shore. They still had to carry their bags and bundles through the ocean just to get home.

When we finally got to the white sand beach with clear turquoise water the boat driver asked when we would like him to return and after I told him he sped away.

It was magic! The beach was covered in sand dollars and starfish. The kids spent hours picking them up, finding out they were still alive, letting them go, and discovering all kinds of interesting facts about them in between!

The tide was out and there were so many truly fascinating things to discover on the reefs, in the ocean, and in the tidepools.

​The sea urchins were plentiful today so the barefooted beauties had to be careful not to step on them. The last time someone got stung by a sea urchin it was disastrously painful, so we were very happy that situation was avoided today:)

Locals were like little ants in the distance collecting shells and trapped fish for dinner, filling their buckets and bags as they laughed and chatted.

​​We never actually saw a sea turtle, however, we saw so many other amazing things it didn’t even bother us in at least. The only thing we were missing on this perfect day was my second oldest daughter who had decided to stay home on the adventure.

#shemissedout #ithinkthismustbeheaven

The Proffitt Family hanging out on a log in Paradise

What do you think, could you handle a day in paradise? I gotta say, this world schooling experience won’t be easy to beat!

#Vanuatu #Ifiraisland #icouldntbehappier

Weddings in Paradise

There were 7 weddings in the village this week, the girls attended two of them.

There is only one day in the month in which you are allowed to get married regardless of what church you belong to, so last Friday was full of celebrations for everyone!!

When Analaea asked one of her friends what he was doing that day, he replied he was on his way to buy his cousins bride.

Apparently every man in the family over a certain age goes to purchase the bride from her family the day before the wedding.  All the Village gossip was about the extraordinary price that their family had brought to purchase the bride.

With the minimum wage being $2 an hour here the bride gift Of $1350 USD was unheard of!! The Vanuatu government passed a law 10 years ago saying that no brideprice over $800 was allowed, but I guess people are still willing to accept higher bride prices when offered.

In addition to the bride price, one week prior to the wedding every member of the grooms family must take off work and move into the grooms village where they spend the week preparing for the upcoming celebrations. In this case they killed five cows and two pigs for their feast amongst many many other things!

Once a bride and groom have been married you throw flour on the couple to show your support of their union.

Marriage here in Vanuatu is pretty much a matter of practicality. I’ve only seen one couple who looks even remotely in love and even they said that one day the bride received a phone call from a distant cousin who she had spoken to only once in her life. “Can I take you to the Mormon temple to get married after you get home from your two years of service?”

The young girl presented the name to her Family, and they discussed the pros and cons of the union. After two days they decided that he would be a suitable match. So she called him back and said yes. When her service mission was finished he picked her up brought her to the temple in Fiji and they got married. They are now living in two separate countries, as he is in Australia trying to save money for the island wedding well she works here in Vanuatu.

When I asked about their island wedding, she said they would probably celebrate that in two or three years. The trouble is in order to have a custom island wedding The family of the groom must pay a high bride price as well as all the costs for the celebrations. This puts a great financial burden on the family purchasing the bride.

If by chance you want to get married but are not able to afford the price of your bride you can give your first born daughter to your brides family. They then get to keep your daughter for the rest of her single life. That’s the case with my brothers house girl and their first born which they haven’t seen since giving away.

It’s so sad to see some of the local customs that are clearly trapping people in financial bondage or sadness. Weddings and funerals are particularly expensive for locals in Vanuatu.

One woman I know well said that after her husband had been requested to share his seed with other woman in his home village she wanted to leave him. She took the pikinins with her and boarded a boat. He found out before the boat left and also boarded. When he found her he beat her until she was unconscious and then threw her overboard. He jumped over himself and swam them both to shore where he announced she could not leave him. She’s been with him ever since.

I will be celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary with Eric soon. Our marriage is by no means without stress but I am grateful that at least he doesn’t drink Kava all night, beat me, share his seed or give our children away.

Thank goodness for the values that we share that make marriage just a little bit easier!!I think that this world schooling lesson that my girls learned today will stick with them forever!

What about you? What strange customs have you come across while traveling?

Laundry Day in the Tropics

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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?No automatic alt text available.

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.Image may contain: one or more people

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).

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, child, pool and outdoorThere 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!

First Morning Awake

Because the house we rented is not yet available my kind brother and sister-in-law have opened their home to us for the next two weeks. We’d never share something this small in Canada, but compared to standard of the locals (which are just tin shacks), it’s a mansion.

We spent the night all stacked up 3 and 5 to a small bedroom all sharing the same hot sticky air. Eric and I had a little bedroom all to ourselves which was a bonus, although it had no window and the air was so thick I wondered if I’d ever be able to fall asleep. Eventually quiet and sleep did overtake us all and it felt so good to be rested. I was also happy to only have been attacked by a flying cockroach once during the night, which is a huge bonus because I hate those things!

My internal clock was all jumbled around and I was the first to wake up. It actually ended up being a blessing,  I realized as I quietly slipped out the front screen door and got to sit down to enjoy the sounds and smells of this new world alone.

I’m going to give you a peak into my head…

Fat Drops of rain are softly spattering on the tin roof and you can hear a rooster crowing amongst an orchestra of tropical birds signing loudly above us.

The ocean is just through the yard and across the corral/dirt road, so the ocean waves join in the chorus as a soft steady instrument.
It’s only 6:00am but who wants to stay in bed when the rest of the world is waking up??

Certainly not these kids! Isaiah, Sariah have woken up and are now exploring the giant Nabunga tree figuring out the best way to get up and down, and swinging from it’s sprawling branches.

Micah wakes up next and is busy squealing as he runs away from the neighbourhood dog.

His little feet squish through the wet grass, no shoes of course.

Maxwell and Mireyah wake up next and then Maxwell who has already been living here for 3 weeks and is now an expert on island living. As he explains the best way to crack a cocunut,  Mireyah seems quite satisfied as she digs out her breakfast from the newly picked fruit.

It’s not yet 8:00am and I feel like I’ve lived a full day already!
The older girls were awakened by all the noise of the younger children.
They can’t be kept from that enticing call of the ocean for long and after my brother gathers his arms full of passion fruit for breakfast and cooks us something masterful on the small gas stove everyone plays at the beach.

The water is so warm that nobody wants to leave even though they have been there for hours. I finally coax my little adventurer home to play in the shade of the Guava, Palm, Po Po (another name for Papaya), Pua, & Nabunga trees. Because it’s just our first days here I’m anxious to keep them from getting too much sun all at once.

I’m convinced this must be heaven.

Our Adventure Begins

Today is the day that we leave for Vanuatu!!! I feel like it’s a dream. We were up until 2:00am working to get everything done. You would think that with all the help I had and with working non- stop for the last two months that there wouldn’t be much left to do. Wrong. The passports only came in yesterday, and we had so many last minute things to take care of.

7:00am we just left home and are on our way. We are driving in the Peavoys van with the Tillacks driving us to Calgary. The kids are all happy and quiet. So far so good:)

hey becky boo
On our way to Vanuatu

10:30 am- made it to calgary airport.
The car was making some strange noises and I was nervous that we might break down. It seems like I’ve been having that kind of luck lately but thankfully but I was wrong and we made it in plenty of time to check in.

I guess I forget that to most the world my family is pretty big. People couldn’t help staring at us as all 9 of us tumbled out the door and started unpacking bags onto carts. We had 28 bags in total which adds up quickly when you are trying to transport them all! We formed a line with bags and babies and purses. We got lots of fascinated stares and encouraging smiles, it actually helped me to feel better. I’m still pretty nervous about doing this and not totally sure that it will all work out the way I hope. It cost us so much money and the teenagers are so resistant to the whole plan. I guess I’m just glad that at this point people are being nice- those smiles are going a long way in my unsettled heart 🙂

3:00pm-  We made it to Seattle safely.  I actually can’t believe that our first flight is over and we have just three left to go! #itstoolatetoturnbacknow

Isaiah was so so excited to be flying! He couldn’t believe how fast and noisy it was. How fun to be able to take these boys on a plane. This is a first for  both them. I am reminded again just how fun it is to have young children, they make even the most mundane things exciting and get everyone laughing and happy. What a blessing it is to have these two boys after our family of girls. AS for the plane ride, Micah wasn’t sure what to make of the whole thing. He kept saying “whoa” and looking out the window in amazement. It was priceless!

Eric and finally got the kids settled in their seats and all the bags stowed away when we realized that we are actually short one bag. After some figuring we discovered it’s Eric’s bag. It has his only clothes, shoes, underwear and worst of all the family medicine. The crazy thing is that at the last airport I took all his medicine out of his computer bag and thought “I’ll lighten his load a bit.” I kindly tucked it into his carryon- which is gone. We to pay oodles of money to have on flight calling and after calling the airport its unlikely that they will be able to help us.  I guess we are traveling too far away and a missing bag can’t be sent to us. This could actually be quite bad.

7:58pm we just landed in Los Angeles. Zaby slept the whole flight and Micah screamed. But he seems to be happier now.

4 hour layover…

We got lost in the LA airport and walked for over an hour. It was nearly midnight and we literally were about to drop (some of us did drop) by the time our flight took off at midnight.

11:00am We flew all night. Isaiah and the girls slept, Micah screamed and Eric and I got two hours of sleep each. I can’t even see straight, I think I’m going to pass out…

12:00pm arrived at the Fiji airport. It was too dark to see anything and we missed the sunrise by just a few minutes because we were busy going through security. There was lively live Fijian music as we came through and I was reminded again how lovely it is to see lots of beautiful Polynesian smiles.

Horray only one flight left and we will be there!

8 hour layover in Fiji. everyone is beat but the boys. Why does it always work like that? We are hot and sweaty and frankly quite stinky. I might be the first to strip down and go Vanuatu style. I see now why they go naked. #notjoking
We pretty much spent the entire layover taking turns sleeping and hanging out in the bathroom where it was cooler. Good thing there was a nice airport lounge because we totally took it over and sprawled out to catch up on all that lost rest. Everything seems unbelievable. The palm trees outside, the fact that we are just hours away from our final destination, I really can’t believe it!

The plane got delayed an hour. Sigh…#9hoursinonespotistoolong I can barely keep my sanity and keep track of the boys at the same time.

The food is expensive in the airport! It cost us $100 just to get the girls each a burger and fries. Eek! There are some expenses that I hadn’t quite calculated into our trip. I kinda forgot that kids need to eat on 40 hour trips half away around the world.

8:00pm Thursday We are finally leaving Fiji for our final destination!!!! The times are quite different here. Its 3:00 pm Friday Fijian time. It kinda doesn’t feel real, like the fact that we are only 1 island away from our new home for the next four months is overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.

We are in a small plane and that is always so exciting because you feel sure you will be tipping over and diving towards the ocean before long.

I can’t believe that we are only a few hours away from our FINAL DESTINATION!!