2-17 My family Came to Visit!, Part 1

They made it all the way to my airport!

My family came to visit, well the rest of my family came to visit.  My mom came in July and in January, my dad and brother came for two weeks.

We got lucky with travel on the end that mattered, which was meeting them.  I had timed my flight to come in fifteen minutes after their flight landed.  We were about half an hour late, so rather than watching them walk through customs, I met them at the door.  I asked another PCV to meet us there, just in case something came up and my flight didn’t go or whatever.  It all worked out and I met them at the airport.
After forcing them to stay awake until 8 pm Vanuatu time, which was 3 am their time, we got up early and went to play tourist in Vila.  We spent the day at Mele Cascades, which are quite lovely.  It was brilliant fun to go exploring with my brother again.  We kept finding little alcoves and pools to romp in.  He has the same sense of wonder and delight that I have, which came up a few times during the trip. 
We left from the Cascades and went to the Secret Garden.  It was interesting but not something I’d go back to.  A lot of information and I think it used to be a botanical garden and “around the islands” kind of tour, but our guide was in a hurry and skipped to the big sell ideas.  I wanted the little ones, I’ve already seen the big ones.  It was fun to read some of the signs they had that told kastom stories or origins of different island traditions.  The mosquitoes were atrocious and it was raining so we left pretty quickly.
Brother and Bear

On Friday, I checked the weather.  We were intending to get on a boat on Sunday.  The forecast called for 3.5 meter swells.  That is what I call rough seas.  We had to do a bit of travel re-planning.  We spent the morning in the Air Vanuatu office booking tickets and spending large amounts of money.

Our medical officer, the MD who looks after the health of the volunteers, offered to take my dad on a tour of Vila General Hospital.  They had quite a correspondence while Jason was on medevac and my father has experience working in developing world hospitals, so it made sense.  I left him in Nelsine’s hands and took my brother to Wan Smol Bag, the local (and only) theater in Vila. 
Wan Smol Bag is awesome.  We got an impromptu tour of all of their facilities.  They started with a theater and a spitfire writer who wasn’t afraid to broach the hard social topics.  They tackled AIDS and STIs.  People got back to them saying, “We want to get tested but can’t afford the hospital fees.”  So, they started an STI clinic.  Then they started doing plays about appropriate behavior from youth.  The youth got back to them saying, “We can’t get jobs and we can’t go to school.”  So, they started a youth outreach center with computers, English and literacy classes, dance classes, an acting troupe and a library.  During all of that, they also expanded from stage to radio and film, they started a soap opera about AIDS, they developed publications to compliment their shows and started a sports program.  Now, they are working on a nutrition center which will include cooking classes in a Western kitchen and a bush kitchen and balanced meals for everyone in the classes. 
Jonah, of course, loved it.  I did, too.  It was great to see the kind of work they are doing and it got me really excited about it being possible to do that kind of integrated social messaging work based around a theater.  On that note, we left for Pentecost.

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