6-29 Visiting Friends: Pangi

Robert’s house
We arrived in Pangi in the pouring rain. When I say pouring, I mean it looked like monsoon season. We couldn’t see more than about fifty feet, due to the amount of water dumping on our heads. We were a bit damp.
The volunteer who lived in Pangi wasn’t back from Vila, but luckily, one of the other volunteers from nearby was in Pangi and had the house key.
We went and got changed and made hot chocolate. What else were we supposed to do?
Robert has been in Pangi as long as I’ve been in Vansemakul. Unfortunately, he had a very different experience. Due to mistakes on both sides and an unworkable relationship, he is moving to Leroy, Paama Island. We were there to help him pack up and see him off.  
The cruise boat was huge!
Robert’s plane back from Vila touched down at 3:30pm, at which point he walked out into the small monsoon to get in a boat. The boat had a few errands to run. He got to his house at 6pm. We gave him more hot chocolate and a hot meal, since we’d taken over his house. Remember, this is mid-winter here.
We took pictures of the tourists, it was such a bizarre experience
I spent the next two days bumming around Pangi and hanging out with other PCVs. It was fun to chat and catch up with friends, though bittersweet since one is moving further away. Still, we had some great conversations and goofed off a bunch.
On Monday, the last nakhol happened in Pangi. Jason came down in the morning with his papa. His papa has a boat, which was going to take Relvie and Robert to the airport to return to Vila.
The Pangi dives are all tourist driven due to a cruise boat that comes through. Being there with the tourist boat was a bizarre and uncomfortable experience.
If I thought of the whole thing like a giant festival, it was fun. There were children singing, people of all ages doing kastom dances, hair braiding and food for sale with the main attraction of nakhol. From the direction of a cultural festival, it seemed to have real value for the tourists and the participants. Of course, it is always interesting to see what other people do in their spare time.
In contrast to that, there was an underlying attitude of “Tourists have money, so what can I do to get some?” I understand that by contrast, yes, the tourists do have money. But there are limits to what you should morally do to get that money. Providing a service for a fee, whether that service is entertainment, hair braiding or food, I get. But putting a sign up saying that you are building a new church that requires funding, when in fact the new church is paid in full, is going too far. On top of that, just because I have white skin, does not mean I am a tourist and does not mean I have money. I am actually “earning” less money than a teacher or a bank worker.
The kindi kids singing for the tourists.  They are cute…
It was an uncomfortable thing to blend in with a crowd of while people. Of course, I think my BO prevented any real blending in. I’d only intended to stay for two days and my change of clothes was still soaked from the rain. Peace Corps lowers one’s hygiene standards.
It was cool to see the jump again. It was a sunny day, which meant better lighting for photos and I got an excellent angle to shoot from. We left before the last few dives so we could get to the airport to drop off Relvie and Robert.
Though it is sad to lose a neighboring volunteer, I hope the placement in Paama will work out better and it was a great excuse to go south. I’m slowly working my way around all of Pentecost.


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