Meet my family
We have moved in with our training host family. We are staying in the village of Epau, though Jason and I are actually not in the village itself. We are at Ngus station about 25 minutes’ walk from the center of Epau. Ngus is pronounced like “mongoose” without the “mo.”
My host mother’s name is Leikave and my host father is Tamara. Jason is not the direct son, because you can’t marry a sibling. He’s the son-in-law. It doesn’t really matter, they treat us the same. They are both patient, kind and perfectly willing to laugh at us. I couldn’t ask for nicer people to be showing us the ropes. There are 7 children in the family and the range in age from somewhere over 30 to 10. I think that puts my host mom at around 50. Ages are relative here. Really, time is relative. In a place where there are no seasons, where there is always food available and where the sun always shines, it doesn’t really matter what month it is or what year it is.
So far, my host sisters have been a wonderful and patient source of teaching, showing and talking. I have three host sisters. The oldest is Joyce who has three daughters of her own. Joyce has taken the time to chat with me, begin teaching me to weave mats, introduce me to kava and general gotten me to interact in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. The next oldest sister is Lily who mostly just laughs at me, usually when I’m doing something stupid. Fani is, I think, 13 or there abouts. She has become my keeper a lot of the time. Mostly because she gets sent to go do things that I need to learn and want to learn, I get sent off with her. She also thinks I’m hilarious and is really good at talking slowly to me.
The brothers are Kalfao, who is the oldest sibling and has three kids. I haven’t interacted much with him, he doesn’t seem to be home all that often, though his wife is nice. Next down is Lester who is also married and has one boy. I think Lester is in his mid-late twenties. After him is Bruce, who is 18, and has some form of albinism. I don’t know if he is looking eyeing any marriage prospects but he is always out and about and doing something. Finally there is Steve who is 10. Steve has taken a liking to Jason. No surprise there. In fact, Steve follows Jason around most of the time he is in the compound, usually because Jason is doing something strange like practicing martial arts or helping me with the laundry or general no doing anything Steve has seen before.
The up shot of Steve and Fani being our near-constant companions is that they show us all the good swimming places. Seriously, this country is bloody hot and any excuse to jump in the ocean is a good excuse. The river is even better, it is fresh water and it is wonderfully cold. The ocean here is actually quite warm. They are also a near-constant source of entertainment for me. By watching them, I am learning a lot about what is expected of me and how to perform basic tasks, like washing my clothes, starting fires, cutting banana leaves and firewood and weeding the garden.
There are bunches of children around most of the time. The seven grandkids are mostly not yet school age so stay home full time plus the other children from the compound or a neighboring compound. I’m not actually sure how many of them there are. There seems to be no less than three but no more than eight on any given day.
As my family keeps telling me, slow slow, I’ll learn it all, slow slow, slow slow.