10-16 Last Trip to Maorip

Back in June, Noel-Marie, the main guy we were training martial arts with in Maorip injured his eye. He was cutting firewood and a splinter flew off and hit his eye, which scratched the surface. He was smart enough to go down to the Health Center where they referred him to Santo for surgery. Something about buffing out the scratch, which makes his eye sound like a glass ball.
The final test for Jason’s primary student.
He got his orange belt.

He left for Santo to stay for a week or two and came back nearly 3 months later. Thus it goes in Vanuatu. The doc wanted to see him after a month so he found work at a construction site which turned into more work because it was paying work. Cash is hard to come by on the outer islands so this was a great opportunity to earn a bit of money for his family as well as a walkabout for him.
The other men we’d been training with were afraid they’d forget something without him there and didn’t want us to come train them. So, we haven’t been to Maorip in a few months, which is too bad but again, thus goes life in Vanuatu.
At First Communion I found Jocelyn, Noel-Marie’s wife, and told her we were leaving in two weeks. She told Noel-Marie who came and found us to confirm if that was true. We told him it was and sorted out a day to go up there for a last visit. We wanted to go say goodbye to their kids as well as the other people in the village.
We left Tuesday after school and walked up as it was getting dark. We made the walk in just over an hour which is very good time. When we got there, they were already grinding kava. I went to the kitchen to story with Jocelyn while Jason hung out in the nakamal. I got about half an hour of chatting in before they sang out for my kava.
Jason and Noel-Marie grinding kava for the last time antap.

The chief did a nice thank you speech and talked about how it was important to their community that we had made the effort to come. They had only one basket which the chief smoothed over admirably by saying we were “one body” and could share the basket. I think we just didn’t give them enough warning to have another one made. Noel-Marie had more to say that was more emotional, but he said that to us individually.

The kids had to go to school in the morning, so we did a brief goodbye with them. We gave them lots of presents some of practical value like rulers, erasers and notebooks and some of fun value like fake tattoos and frisbees. They were excited, though the littlest one was afraid of the stuffed animal I gave her, at least until her big brother wanted to play with it. Then it was most definitely hers.
Our family in Maorip: Papa Noel-Marie and Mama Jocelyn.

Leaving those guys was harder than leaving many people. They have been nothing but welcoming and friendly with us. I’m sure part of it is not living in the village we only ever saw the best, but we still saw the best. I like Maorip and the people who looked after us up there. I will miss training with them and drinking kava in that nakamal, though I can’t say that I’ll miss racing up the hill at the end of a long day.

That day was a 10-day kakae for a deadman (part of the funeral rites). Jason helped move a pig to the correct village while I hung out with the little kids and Jocelyn. We all went over to the village in the afternoon where Jason got to work grinding kava. He understands his role in the nakamal very well, though everyone else seems confused at first. I hung out there long enough to take some pictures then went and found the women.
My smol sista Sawan.  She’s a cutie.

We only stayed for an hour or so because we had to walk back down the hill and then over to Vansemakul before dark. That is about an hour and a half of walking but they thought we needed kava before that happened. There is a phrase in Bislama that I really like. They say that kava makes the road small. I agree. The road gets narrower at night, I swear!

We hoofed it down the hill after a few shells and picked up our bags in Melsisi then off we went to Vansemakul. We arrived back at dusk in time to collapse into bed and sleep for 12 hours.

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