Friday, September 21, 2012

The last 4 weeks

An eventful 4 weeks it has been. So this will be quite a long blog.

We started the school holidays with a trip down to Southwest Bay, located (guess where) south-west of Malekula. On Sunday the 26th, we climbed aboard a truck with a Japanese friend (Sho) of ours and his friend (Nao). We travelled for a while then got to a wharf where we climbed on a police boat for a 1 and a ½ hour trip to Lembenwen, a village only accessible by boat. It was a beautiful spot. We went to the lagoon where the locals have spotted some bigfala pidgins (pelicans) and the following day we went snorkelling where we saw some amazing reefs, and then went to a waterfall. We stayed with a local family and were guided around by the police boat driver for nothing more than the cost of fuel. Amazing what you can do here for a cheap price with the right connections!
Us with our two Japanese friends

Alicja and I got dragged up to dance
by Judy's mum - pabu lectare
(oldfella woman in custom language)
A few days later we had the privilege of witnessing a double wedding (two brothers of our host mum). Was very interesting to watch since it is a different culture and they have different custom traditions that go back hundreds of years. A bunya was cooked which takes around 20 hours to cook on hot stones. It contains lots of root vegetables and meat. Very similar to laplap. Oh, and by the way, when they ate people, this is how they cooked humans before eating them (that is, IF they cooked them before eating them!)

Stamping all the books with help
One able helper for the library
The pig slaughtering tables in the
custom village.
Another event which happened is our parents with another couple from Hervey Bay Uniting Church came and visited us here in the village. We all had an enjoyable week full of laughs and new experiences for us and them. Our activities included: watching a traditional dance, cooking and crafts tour, visiting a custom village and cannibal site just up the hill from the modern Tautu village. We also put in a couple of days work in the library project stamping books and putting most of the books in the shelves. It was certainly an interesting experience especially for our visitors. It was also very good to see them again and catch up on the news in Australia – we’re pretty isolated from the outside world here. Thank you again for visiting and for your help in setting up the library. We're almost there! The library has officially been opened, but we discovered quite a few more books which needed stamping and cataloging.
The small nambas tour in Walarano
The mums in their new island dresses
After our walk into the custom village
with chief Edward.

Neil standing outside his library
The library was opened last Tuesday with a huge celebration with many speeches by special guests, as well as a devotion led by Elder Daniel Nato, cutting of the ribbon and cake and a big community lunch. Neil, a Peacecorp volunteer (a US volunteering program) was the man who funded the whole project. It is a very good looking library with all the books inside and the locals were certainly very happy about it. We were both very happy to see it complete but we still have some work to do in there - some fine tuning as I said. We have put forward a policy of borrowing books and they plan to apply to get a full-time librarian. Whether or not this happens, who knows? We heard of another Peacecorp volunteer coming in December, so we hope things hold until she comes for her 2 year long contract.

Shortly after the "yes" response
Alicja's surprise birthday and new
island dress
On more personal news – last Thursday was a very special day for both of us. Not only was it Alicja’s birthday, but we are now engaged! We spent the morning setting up a wheelchair for a young boy in a village called Mai (twenty minutes away). He was extremely happy with his new wheels too! After lunch we went down to the beach and that is where the big question was asked :-D. After coming back, we relaxed for a bit, then, as Judy said that she hadn’t started dinner yet, went to tell Elder Daniel the news. We walked in on preparations for a big dinner. We sat down and waited for him to finish making preparations, when Alicja spotted Judy and asked her what she was doing there. She told her to ask Gareth and he said “happy birthday” – it appears Alicja didn’t know that the preparations were actually for her. A full day of surprises for Alicja...evidently.

This week has just been the ordinary teaching for the first two days. We then found a stack of new books that needed to be catalogued and stamped. So that took us a while and we managed to finish that today. The library now is very close to being finished and be operational – Gareth will be the first unofficial librarian for the time being. We had a meeting with the teachers and present a policy for their new library which they seemed quite happy with.

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