So, what am I doing when I’m not teaching at Melsisi?
I walk a lot. Seriously. I’m really pleased about this part of my service. I’m actually plotting how to set up my life back home to keep up a more active daily life. Getting to and from Melsisi is about 1.5 Miles. Vanwoki is another village nearby which we go to once or twice a week. It’s around 1.25 miles away. Both of these involve a minimum of hills by Pentecost standards or at least one that leaves us panting on each trip. Our garden is about the same distance as Vanwoki but up a lot more hills. In addition to all the “trips,” there is just a lot of walking involved in life. Up and down the village, across Melsisi, etc. My life here is WAY more active at a base level than it was in the states. I rather like it.
|Gaea weeding the garden. With a machete.|
I deal with food. This takes a lot of time, not to mention causing a lot of walking. Going to the garden is a minimum of 2.5 hours. That’s just to grab food and hurry back. Cooking involves building and maintaining a fire. It’s very hard to prep the next part of the dish and keep the fire going, too. We have to either both cook or prep everything first. All the dishes have to be done by hand. Scraps have to be walked out to the pig. There is no way to keep food so we can’t “stock up” on a lot of things. Food is a central part of life everywhere. Its amazing how much time it takes up here.
I story. This is interspersed with every activity. When I go to the store it involves a conversation about the weather or work or whatever. When I meet someone on the road there’s a minimum of conversation about where we’re going. While grinding kava we chat about anything. It’s very social.
I drink kava. The weeks vary but I think I average 3 or 4 nights a week at the Nakamal. It’s a good atmosphere and I actually like drinking Kava in general. The taste isn’t great but I don’t actually mind it too much. The effect is a nice light buzz that doesn’t stick around for too long.
|A short lesson with various sized students|
I train. There have been some issues around this which deserve their own post. In summary, moving into a new culture has forced me to re-examine my training in a lot of depth. That being said, I have been continuing to train as I am able. Schedules aren’t done. This makes it somewhat more difficult to train regularly. But then, what are difficulties but opportunities to grow? I am still passionate about my training and couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to do it.
I clean the house. Sweeping is a daily need here, even more so than it was at home. The insects chewing on our walls and ceiling create a good bit of dust. We also don’t have a lot of places to put things so clutter builds up ridiculously fast, even when we’re careful.
I do the laundry. This almost never fails to get a question from one of the mamas concerning Gaea’s whereabouts (implying “why isn’t she doing that for you?”). I actually get slightly offended at this. I’m not so lazy that I can’t do my own laundry. I mean, I know that’s the standard for married guys around here but I’m not. Gaea encourages me in these rants, it means I do the laundry more.
I gather firewood. We have to do this decently often. I walk into the bush with my knife, hack away at some already down and dry wood, then pile it up to carry back. To help carry, you chop off a young limb of the same tree and strip the bark off then use it as rope. By the way, this is also the tree whose leaves are used for toilet paper and it makes good posts in fences and houses. It’s a very useful tree.
I torment the cats. By which I mean pick them up and pet them when they’re in the middle of other things. Sometimes they get used as puppets first or held up in the air. I can tell how put out they are by the purring.
I read. Really, that’s true of my life everywhere I go but when I get time to do so here, I get A LOT of time. School is going on now so I have less than I did but when I don’t have school, I sometimes get hours upon hours to read.
I meditate. This practice is something I am really working on deepening. I read a good bit of philosophy and work on my meditation. I’ve even been managing to it regularly lately (schedules here aren’t easy to set up.)
All of this fills up the days to the point where boredom isn’t an issue. Who knew there was so much to do on a tropical island?