2-19 Family Visit, part 2

Boys at the nakamal

We got to Pentecost without a hassle.  Jason met us at the airport, ear infection and all.  We relaxed at the house for the afternoon and Jonah and Daddy tried laplap simboro, which they said tasted green.  In the evening, we went up to the nakamal.  I spent the two weeks leading up to their visit telling the people in my village that they’d be here and we should do a welcome for them.  They got as far as kava, which is better than they did for my mom.

Jonah jumped in to learning to grind kava.  He got a good inch worth of kava before the man he was grinding across from had enough of a pile to milk.  The men in the nakamal were having fun correcting his grinding posture, his grip and teasing him about how little he was getting.  Then, we drank kava.  My dad had one shell and was talking like John Wayne.  Jonah and I stayed for 6 more while Jason and Daddy went back to the house.
Showing my dad my teaching resources

We were all suffering a bit of laz the next morning, the three of us from kava and Jason from being sick.  We didn’t do much.  Jonah and I cooked.  It was exciting to have another person who gets excited about food and cooking to play with.  I run out of ideas by myself.  We brined a pumpkin, then roasted it with  soup of veggies in coconut milk and a mango chutney on top.  It was tasty, though it took all day.

We took our time getting going on Monday, too.  We walked to Melsisi around lunch time.  We took a tour of Melsisi, though it was pretty empty.  I showed my dad the health center and we saw the church.  We went to Jason’s lab for a bit.  Then we walked back to the village.  School was still on break, so there wasn’t a lot going on there.
Jonah and I cooked a lot

Tuesday it rained.  I realized how far I’d come from my life in the fast lane in the US while watching my family.  Rainy days here are a great excuse to do a whole lot of nothing.  It was raining cats and dogs, so I figured maybe a game or two of Scrabble, cook a good meal, read a book and go to bed.  By the time I’m getting worked up to cooking, my brother is knee deep in firewood he’s chopped out of logs using nothing but my bush knife and my dad is busy trying to figure out how to make a shelf out of the bamboo I have laying around the house.  I watched them do productive things and realized how much I’ve slowed down and mellowed out.
Wednesday, we had a date to pin natangura (thatch roof) and drink kava in Lalbateis.  We jumped in the ocean in the morning and went over around 3 pm.  We spent an hour or two learning to make a roof.  Jonah and Daddy did pretty well, though the men in Lalbateis kept showing Jason and I off by telling us to go get things or go work on pinning another “shingle.”  We timed it about right, we had enough time for Jonah and Daddy to pin a “shingle” each before it was time to start cutting kava.
A couple of very white bums

Of course, my brother could not be outdone by my partner and went over in true Pentecost style.  By that, I mean in a loin cloth.  While I was finishing up the “shingle” I was working on, he and Daddy followed Freddy on a short tour of the village.  Freddy’s mama saw Jonah and said something along the lines of, “His bum is too white, tell him to cover it up with this,” and gave him a tsip or small read mat.  The red mats are used as currency here.  It was a valuable gift and something Jason and I have been wanting for awhile.  Jonah wore it for the rest of the night, though he did complain that it was chaffing. 

Thursday we went to Waterfall.  We played on the sand beach there and then Jonah and I found as many high places as we could to jump from.  It was fun.  I do really love to swim in fresh water.  I like the ocean but the salt makes me itchy when I get out and I don’t like to open my eyes.  The waterfall is more my speed.
This is what we do at Waterfall.  JUMP!

By Friday, it was raining again.  We walked to the garden anyway.  Walking there and back was a good reminder of how far Jason and I have come in walking on foot paths.  My family is pretty fit and agile, but when Jason went ahead to get a fire started, he beat the three of us back by half an hour.  We have a learning curve.

The three of us in the back met an old couple on the way back from the garden.  After they got over their surprise, they kept laughing to see three white people dancing about on the path.  (Dancing is Bislama slang for slipping and sliding.)  Jonah and Daddy were thoroughly impressed to see this little old couple walking down a slippery foot path.  Jonah kept trying to help the old lady, which was cute but really she was doing better than he was.  Finally, the man went in front of me to show me a different path back, which meant he giggled at us a little less.  Just a little though.
It was really cool to be able to show them how I live now.  I know they have a different understanding of what I am doing and how I am doing it.  I also really enjoyed watching Jonah interact with my friends here.  There is a youngfala man who I would be friends with if it weren’t inappropriate to have cross-gender friendships who took to Jonah.  He’s decided that Jonah needs to learn Bislama so they can talk on the phone.  My dad is under the impression that this lifestyle would suit him well now, but I think he needs a few more modern conveniences, like lights at night.  Still, having them here in my house and my life was awesome.

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