Thursday, March 1, 2012
Hold Up In Norsup
After flying into Norsup, the location of Malekula's airport, I learned that my island was being struck by heavy rains. This meant that no trucks were driving back to my village. I intended to go back to my village the next day, but ended up needing to stay there for three days. I had bought many items in Port Vila to set up my house, including a smokeless stove which was quite heavy, so I was left perplexed about how to get both myself and my belongings back to my site. Along with my friends and fellow Volunteers Tim and Natalie, we took refuge at the home of two Volunteers from New Zealand, serving in the New Zealand and British Commonwealth equivalent to the Peace Corps, Volunteer Services Abroad. They were an elderly couple who had come to Malekula to work on education issues. It proved to be quite fun and informative. They told me that a new policy is being enacted which forbids the kindergarten classes (called “kindies” here) to open until an investigation is facilitated to ensure that the correct standards are being conformed to. They were quite angry about this, knowing that many villages will simply not investigate these matters and the kindies there will remain closed. They are currently trying to persuade the Ministry of Education to allow the kindies to open. They also told me about the rising prevalence of diabetes in Vanuatu due to the copious amounts of sugar people mix into their drinks and white rice consumed with vegetables, fish, and meat. I was happy to report that my host family and village are an exception. I see very little sugar and white rice used and have lost quite a bit of weight since coming to my village. When I finally was able to get a truck from Lakatoro to drive me to Norsup to pick up my belongings and everyone else on the truck to help me carry all my heavy bags. The ride back was long, but exquisite and tranquil. Huge bats and birds swooped over me, even through it was broad daylight. Coconut trees encompassed my view everywhere. Locals on the truck rearranged their belongings so that I could be more comfortable. After such a stressful experience trying to get home, I had reached the light at the end of the tunnel—or dirt road.