1-8 Retroactive: Fest Napuan

 Retroactive = All things Vanuatu that I haven’t had time to write due to finishing the book.

Arno, rocking out on stage.  (He’s a tutor at the youth center, too.)

Fest Napuan is an annual music festival in Vanuatu. It is a Big Deal for people in Vila or involved in the music scene in Vanuatu. The organizing committee selects 3-5 international bands and pays their way to Vanuatu and there are competitions for Vanuatu bands to win slots in the performance schedule.

The first night is known as Fest Nalenga and is run by Wan SmolBag Youth Center. Needless to say, it was insane. Early on, they asked if I, and the photo class, would like to do the photography. I said yes, then made them promise that it would be me and photo class doing it, not having it co-opted by an outside organization. They agreed that the outside organization would have no claim on us, so I happily went ahead with organizing 4 nights of photography class.

She tried to get people to dance.  It was hilarious.

We arrived at Saralana Park around 5 on Thursday. We took lots of pretty pictures of the sunset, the stalls and other such things while waiting for the bands to show up. The bands showed up and we continued taking lots of pretty pictures. I got some pretty great ones of the hip hop dancers (though I was shooting on WSB’s camera, not mine), and we had a good time.

She rocked the dancing on stage.  It was great.

We had to beg a bit to get media passes for the next three nights, but we made it work. The organizers were, justifiably, unwilling to give just anyone a pass. So, my co-teacher asked very nicely if his pass could extend to cover his students. They agreed that as long as his students were well-behaved, it wouldn’t be an issue. We made sure they were well-behaved. I got to know the security guard on our little corner, so over the next few nights, he recognized me and the students. (He is now teaching our martial arts class, but that’s a different story.)

The youth learned a latin-style dance.

The music was excellent all week. It varied from string band to reggae to a group for Madagascar doing a local music/reggae fusion thing and a group from someplace in central Africa (I’ve forgotten where) that did a fantastic local music and drums/rock fusion. The headliners were Rise of the Morning Star, a music group made up of people from all over the South Pacific who are raising awareness of the Free West Papau movement, and Stan and the Earth Force, the top reggae band in the South Pacific. Though I enjoyed both those groups, the all-women’s ground was my favorite. The lead singer was not afraid to dance, to jump

out in the crowd and to use her music to tell people to respect women, end domestic violence and educate their daughters. They were pretty great.

Despite working a full week, I still went and ran my photo class (and practiced my own photography, while listening to great live music) from 5pm-10pm every night. Saturday we stayed even later. By Sunday, I was completely wiped out.

Stan and the Earth Force

Let me rant for a short time. I made it very clear to my students that there are a few rules of being a professional.

  1. Do not block the view of the audience. They are not here to see your bum, they are here to watch the performers.
  2. Do not use a flash. Figure out how to use the available light to make an interesting photo. The flash is distracting to the performers and often makes the photo look flat.
  3. Be respectful of the organizers and security personnel. If they tell you to move, move.

I consider these rules to be the absolute basics of being a professional. (Well, I guess more basic would be, “Be respectful of other performers, crew and, you know, everybody.”) I wish all the organizations had chosen to teach their students those basics. Or failing that, would have at least taught their students how to use their camera well enough to turn off the flash in low-light so that they had the option of shooting that way.

Ok, without spoiling the names of the organizations, I’m done ranting.

It was a fun week full of music. It was also an exhausting week full of teaching and working. You might ask what Jason was doing while I was busy teaching photography classes? He was drinking kava with our brothers. Sometimes, he’d even bring me a shell.

8-15 Jason’s Going to be a Star! (Or maybe just a two-bit bully)

Behind the scenes of a bus crash.

 Love Patrol is a soap opera produced by Wan SmolBag. It was started to try to open up conversations about HIV/AIDS and STIs. It did pretty well and was granted a few more seasons. Now, it is a venue to talk about all sorts of nastiness. The most recent topics have ranged from domestic violence to police corruption to corrupt foreign investment and mafia involvement in politics. It airs all across the Pacific and is the basis for the sex ed curriculum in Fiji. Most recently, it got a slot on Australian TV.

Taking notes.  The director is on the far right.

A few months ago, my boss asked me and another volunteer at lunch if we knew any white men who would like to be in Love Patrol. He went on to say that the parts that needed filling were the sleazy investor and the mafia hitman. (As a side note, there are no positive roles for white people in the show. I don’t not like this, I think it is just a different kind of racism and a poor portrayal of people who are doing good things. Especially given that the writer and producer are white people and the organization runs on the backs of a small number of volunteers along side the large number of skilled local staff. I digress.)

I suggested Jason. I figured he’d get a kick out of being a mafioso. He went in for the audition. The director cut him off before his scene was finished. He got the part. According to my inside sources (I gossip with the crew all the time) Jason’s audition was great and they knew he’d get that part from the beginning.

The Good Take (on try #4)

So, now Jason is playing a Russian mafioso on a soap opera. He doesn’t have too many lines, but he’s not exactly silent, either. Much like his stint with the Comedia del’Arte troop at Fest, he spends a lot of time lurking in the background looking evil and not a lot of time speaking. Also like the Comedia del’Arte show, his character is a big jerk. Directors keep seeing a bully in him.

His first shoot was Sunday night. I hung out on set with him and my work colleagues and took a few pictures. It was fun. He only had one shot to do on Sunday, so we finished “early” at 10:30 pm. I expect future shoots to run a lot later. The crew hasn’t been finished before 1:30 am in the last three weeks.

Just to give you a hint of the drama…dead body!

So, Jason has a new hobby (bullying people) and a new career (soap opera villains). I have a new source of entertainment (teasing Jason about the above.) Vanuatu continues to provide us with opportunities we would never have in the US. Which is pretty neat.

7-11 Breaking News*

A minor explosion

There is a hose that attaches the toilet to the wall.  It is silver mesh around a black tube and is what runs the water from the pipes in the wall into the toilet.  Mostly when I’ve seen these, they are equipped with a small on/off valve at either end, but I guess that isn’t strictly necessary.
Captain, the water line has blown.  That black tube appears to have some of the same problems as say, a faulty vein in the human body, by which I mean it can rupture.  Seriously, the water line in the room upstairs just blew out.
Now, I would imagine that one could turn off the on/off valve on the wall side and stop the flow of water.  Unfortunately, this particular toilet was not equipped with the on/off valve in question. So instead, we sat and giggled while the water gushed out of the pipe and swamped the floor, the towels we put down to soak it up, the mop and eventually got to be about ankle deep in the bathroom.

Clean up crew: Neill and Princess

Someone finally got a bucket to catch the water in and we started emptying it into the shower rather than having yet more go spilling all over the floor, but well, there just wasn’t much we could do until the manager showed up.  She shut off the water line.

We mopped, dragged and bailed the water out of the room and moved the two people out into the next room over.  They are resettling and I am tempted to have a water fight.  Anyone want to try sliding on the tile floor?

*There is a pun there since this is actually written when I’m publishing it.  Weird.  I almost never do this.

3-11 The Big City

I’m not sure that Vila will ever stop being an overwhelming place. Aside from living on an island of 8,000 people and then going to a town of 35,000, the circumstances of being in Vila seem to lead to a sense of frantic and frenetic business.

The first day in town is always taken up with, “Oh no, TOWN.” There are so many people, so much traffic and so many shops. It is culture shock all over again, every time. Then I get into the harder things. I mean, I’ve been dodging traffic all my life, re-acclimating to that isn’t too hard.

Harder for me, is to learn to parse conversations again. Here on the island, nine-tenths of daily life is conducted in local language. The other tenth is in Bislama. I don’t speak local, so I just tune out the talking. I don’t listen and I don’t have to try not to listen. It is just so much white noise, so when someone speak directly to me, I have no distractions to what they’re saying. I get into town, particularly into the Volunteer Resource Center (the Volunteer lounge/work space/computer lab/central congregation point) and I go into shock. People in the VRC are speaking English, a language I don’t need to think about to understand. There is a minimum of five conversations happening at any time and at least one volunteer who just babbles all the time, whether or not anyone is listening. I can’t block them out. You know how you have the TV on and can have a conversation with the person next to you but when you get tired it gets hard to follow the TV show and the conversation? Its like that, all the time.

Then there is the work vs play conflict. On one hand, I come in to Vila to do work. I usually come in on Peace Corps dime for a committee meeting or a training, which makes that my primary obligation. But, when I know I’m coming in, I make plans to send emails to project donors, to get quotes for materials, to meet with people in the various Ministry offices or with my supervisors within Peace Corps. Of course, I show up and see my friends for the first time in several months and start forgetting all my good intentions about work. It is also my only chance to skype with friends and family, so then I try to balance my mornings to talk to people on the other side of the world, my afternoons to do work and my evenings to hang out and yet somehow I end up in a conversation about another PCV’s cat for an hour at 2 pm and then have to stay late in the office to make up for it so I miss kava time and then my brother gets online at 3 am his time when he gets home from work and I skype him and all of a sudden my carefully laid plans fall apart. It gets worse the closer I get to leaving for the island.

My usual coping method with stress is to go for a run. Because I don’t like heat exhaustion or dehydration, I only run in the early morning and late evening. In Vila, I don’t want to be caught running at dark (and evenings are kava o’clock) so I only run in the morning. That means I have to get up and run before whatever training I’m supposed to attend. Those of you who have seen me in the morning can imagine how good I am at getting up in time to run, shower and walk half an hour into town by 7:30 am. (Not at all.) So, scratch the running, most of the time. Instead, I walk everywhere. There are buses, they only cost 150 vt (~$1.50) but that 150 adds up fast and I like the exercise. As far as efficiency goes, sometimes it is better to walk. The bus system is like a first on-first off shuttle. You get on and get dropped off in whatever order you got on which sometimes means long winding tours of the city when you only needed to go ten minutes up the road. So, I walk. It takes up precious internet time, but it helps restore my sanity.

Lastly, and scatalogically, is food. After three months of taro, pumpkin and island cabbage, dairy hits the system pretty hard. The first four days in town are spent paying tribute to the porcelain god, in one way or another. Then there is the eat out vs cook debate. There are several decent restaurants in Vila, but every one of them is expensive. Think lunch prices at a mid-range restaurant in the US. That is not within the Peace Corps budget for very long. Being a vegetarian, my options on take away and pre-made market food are limited. So, do I eat out expensively or spend more of my precious time cooking? Usually, it is a bit of both and a lot of leftovers.

All of this begs the question, “What am I going to do when I get back to a real city?” Vila has 35,000 people and it is overwhelming. I can’t imagine what Minneapolis will be or if I try to go visit Jonah in NYC. That will be an experience and a half.

3-5 Fancy Party- PCV style

Hard at work, making things tasty

The Gender and Development Committee traditionally do a fundraiser during the trainings, at least the long trainings.  They usual do something like pasta dinner or a used-clothing sale and bring in 5,000-10,000 Vatu, or the equivalent of $500-$1000USD.  They aren’t huge but then again the projects they’ve been doing haven’t been huge.  This time is different.  The last few years have been focused on Camp GLOW/BILD, the leadership development camp we went to last May, but now they are trying to re-focus on more gender based issues such as the Gender Based Violence toolkit they’ve put together.  I’m testing it on Pentecost in the next few months, I’ll let you know how it goes.

They were arguing over the towel.
Anyway, they decided to throw a “Fancy Party” fundraiser instead of the usual pasta dinner.  They made four h’or devours type courses, two desserts and drinks and had a silent auction.  The food was good and the head chef was good enough to edit one of the courses to make it more vegetarian friendly.  There isn’t much you can do with sliders to make them vegetarian, though. 

She’s pretty cute.  And not afraid of me.
The silent auction was a great combination of practical items and silliness.  We had everything from a towel from Target, Cheetos from the US and toilet paper to USB drives and a box cutter.  It was fun to see what people are attracted to under what circumstances.  Here in the Peace Corps, some of the highest bids went to American items like the Cheetos and towel, which back in the US would probably be the least interesting things on the table. 

Cinderella! Wash the dishes!
The party was fun.  It was all PCVs and our new Country Director and new Administrative Officer.  The CD is married and has a very cute daughter who is not afraid of white people.  It was nice to play with a kid who isn’t afraid of me, confused by me and generally interacts the ways I know how to interact with kids.  She took a liking to my camera, which made her dad nervous.  I kept a firm grip on the strap while she was taking pictures, I don’t want to test the titanium casing on that thing.  

Head Chef Mat and a chunk of meat

We cleaned up and cleared out of the house we were partying in by 10 and went back to the hotel where we discovered that vodka can also be drunk out of a “shell.”  In some ways it is easier than a shot glass, really.  Maybe I’m just getting too good at drinking things from shells.

 It was a fun night and the fundraiser made four times what they were aiming for.  Hopefully this means the next year’s worth of camp GLOW/BILD will be fully funded and that we can laminate a few sets of pictures for the Gender Based Violence toolkits. 

Dessert!  Chocolate pudding with whip cream and chocolate pieces.
 I ate mine with a fork.
The committee hosts, after the hosting

12-17 I Talk About Sex a Lot

I mentioned this in a previous post, but after my last trip to Vila it bears repeating. I talk about sex a lot. I’m pretty knowledgeable about the mechanics and the plumbing and I’m good at not being embarrassed, so it comes pretty easily to me. It came in useful on my last trip to Vila.

I went to Vila for a meeting. On Wednesday evening, a big group of us went out to kava. All work gets done over kava in this country. I went to hang with a bunch of other PCVs and one of them had brought her co-workers as well. She works in the office of another organization called Save the Children Australia(SCA). After a few shells, one of her co-workers comes and sits down next to me and asks if we can talk work. We’re at the nakamal, where better to discuss work?
By the end of a rather long conversation, I agreed to run one day of a five day workshop focused on sexual and reproductive health and outreach techniques. I was doing the plumbing and baby-blocking day. I had a nine days to prepare.
I called my dad. Naturally, when one wants to talk about sex, one should call one’s father. My life is normal. He proved incredibly helpful after all, he’s an ob/gyn. He’s also good at talking about sex.
After a week of silence from SCA, I was starting to freak out. I hadn’t heard if my lesson plans were approved, I didn’t have the supplies I needed to make my flip charts, I hadn’t printed out my handouts and I didn’t know where to get things like condoms. Luckily, I got ahold of them on Wednesday afternoon and went to their office. I was printing and collating until 9pm, but I got it done. I spent all of Thursday morning drawing diagrams of uteruses (uteri?) and penises.
The workshop started like every workshop I’ve done here does, which is to say, an hour late. We had transport issues. Normal, for Vanuatu. I wasn’t even concerned about it at an hour, I would have started getting nervous at 2.
The people I was teaching were all involved with the outreach program. They in some way support or work as outreach to talk about sex, HIV/AIDS, family planning and STIs. Their education ranged from finishing tenth grade (not necessarily passing) to 4 nurses and a couple of Master’s degrees. Their ages varied from about 20 up through late 50s. They did awesome.
It was a pleasure to work with people who were engaged, eager to learn and not full of shame. Shame is a big deal here. Shame about things like sex is a huge issue. When I talk to teenagers, I have to deal with them literally hiding behind their friends, collapsing into giggles and putting their face in their friend’s lap to hide or just laughing so hard I can’t teach. That’s when they manage to overcome their shame enough to even show up.
There was only once in the entire day I said something that made someone hide. I was talking about anal sex, so I guess a little bit of nervous tittering is ok, most people in the States would have done that, too.
We started the day with naming parts. We started with calling out all the slang names for breasts, penis and vagina/vulva. Then I put name tags on everyone’s back with a word on it. They had to go around asking yes or no questions to find out what body part they were. By the end of those, no one had much shame left.
Even though I’ve done a lot of sex ed, I still struggle with impostor syndrome. I found myself standing in the front of a room asking myself why I was doing this. Aren’t there more qualified people to teach this stuff? But really, with the way I’ve been running my workshops, it isn’t about being qualified in knowing every bit of information and factoid about birth control, its about knowing how to elicit that information from within the group. It wasn’t me telling the group about birth control, it was them explaining different methods to each other. I feel like that is a more effective form of learning. Or I’m just excusing my impostor syndrome and lack of knowledge. I hope its the first one.

9-5 Lessons on Objectification

As with many things during my service, things I knew intellectually are being learned at a more visceral level. While we were still in Vila, I learned more about objectification.

I’ve been wearing a loincloth in the village for a while. When one of the other PCVs heard about this, she requested that I wear it to one of the dance clubs in town during our training. Those of you familiar with how little shame I have will not be surprised to hear that I was game.

I thought about walking in in my shorts and changing there, but that felt too much like sneaking in. Which meant I had to walk half an hour from the hotel to the club in a loin cloth. Some of the other PCVs demanded that I not walk in front of them. I guess I was “distracting.” I walked at the back of the group. I do believe I almost caused a crash or two. I definitely got A LOT of vehicles slowing down to make sure they were seeing things correctly.

Once we got into town, I had to get into the club. There was actually a bet going about whether they would even let me in. It was no problem at all, as I suspected. The security guards were all ni-Van and loved that I was taking their custom so brazenly. Inside the club, more ni-Vans were entertained and pleased to see a white man in a loincloth. The men congratulated me. The womens’ reactions were my objectification lesson.

There were a few ni-Van women who were displaying the timidity we’ve come to expect. I would feel a hand brush against my backside but if I even turned my head towards them a little bit, they would hide their faces and run away. Some of the other women were a bit more aggressive. There was one ni-Van who was definitely interested in white men (after escaping her, I saw her with several others through the night). She was not afraid of dancing a little too close and telling me how awesome she thought I was. I thanked her and moved to a different part of the dance floor.

Then there were the tourists. Apparently this group of women thought it was appropriate to try and flip up the front of the loincloth. Why they thought so, I don’t know. When I asked about flipping up their dress, they didn’t seem to think that was a good idea. Fortunately, doing so to a loincloth does not expose anything except more thigh. Its not like I was wearing a kilt. Again, I needed to put distance and my group of friends between myself and the over-aggressive ladies.

After two hours, the white owner of the place came over and told me to put pants on or leave. I had brought my backpack with pants inside so I could hang around for a bit longer until everyone else was ready to leave.

It was a learning experience for me but I don’t think it was the same as what many women experience when they dress nice or dance at a club. Being physically bigger than the aggressive women and not outnumbered by them at any point, I never felt in any actual danger. For me, this was an unusual event and something I found interesting. If I had to deal with this crap all the time, it would get annoying and frustrating. Thinking about these aspects has given me even more respect for women who put up with aggressive males on a regular basis.

The event was also quite appropriately timed due to a training we had that morning on bystander intervention. The training was a very good conversation about when and how you can and should intervene when you see other PCVs (or anyone for that matter) getting into a potentially dangerous situation. One of the things that was re-enforced for me by the experience was the importance of the group. When I wanted to remove myself from unwanted attention, there were female PCVs I could go dance with. I could also move so that the group as a whole was between myself and the aggressor.

Having made self-defense training one of the major aspects of my life, this has been an invaluable experience for me. Most physical confrontations I am likely to find myself in are going to involve containing an aggressive individual. In teaching others, especially women, I need to also understand how to deal with situations where the main focus is getting away from a dangerous situation. Experience is the best teacher and walking a short way in those shoes allows me to better understand these kinds of situations in which I would not otherwise find myself.

Besides, how many people can say they went to a night club in a loin cloth?


We are in Vila again!

I am here for a workshop on HIV/AIDS and Jason is in for a short spell and to gather resources for his school. We will be posting blogs that I’ve written over the last few months as well as a ton of photos. The photos take a long time to upload so the first handful of blogs will be photo-less until we can get the uploads going. I’ll post when the photos go in so you can check back if you are interested. (The cats are adorable, I’d recommend looking at those pictures.)

We are around the internet for the next while so email us if you want to skype, or just email us to tell us what is new in your life. If you haven’t received a snail mail letter from us, send me an email with your address and I’ll write you from the island.

You may now return to your irregularly scheduled updates.

3-19 Vila

Vila is a terrifying place. I don’t mean unsafe or crime ridden. I mean that when you’ve been living on an island of a few thousand people and are all of a sudden in a town of 35,000, it is a bit overwhelming. There is traffic. This is weird. There are crowds to dodge on the street. This is weird. There is ice cream. This is good.

When we come to Vila for official Peace Corps business, like trainings or meetings, we get put up in one of a few different hotels. Each hotel is checked by our Safety and Security person before we are allowed to stay there. There is Coconut Palms, which has wifi in the rooms, a swimming pool and a nice sized kitchen we can use. It also has 4 people to a tiny room, rooms that are about 100F at night shared bathrooms and very few kitchen implements to cook with. There is Pacific Paradise which has wifi in parts, in-room kitchenettes and private bathrooms. The downside is the lack of communal space, a small shared kitchen and a 25 minute walk on a busy road to get there. The other current favorite is Whispering Coral, but I haven’t stayed there and can’t speak to it’s charms. If all of those are full, there is Formulae Holiday Hotel, which has great showers and the slowest internet I’ve ever encountered in my life. Peace Corps had some kind of a break with those guys, I’m not sure what happened but we don’t stay there often.
The Peace Corps office is divided into three parts. The “office” part where all the admin staff work is on the second floor and has private offices for the higher ups with half-wall cubicles for the support staff. The Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) is next to it, though there is no connecting door. Most of the staff aren’t supposed to have access to our room and we aren’t supposed to have access to the office when staff aren’t there. The VRC has four computers and four couches. I don’t know which I like more. There is also wifi, which puts Jason’s vote firmly on the couches. We each have a mail cubby and there is a tiny kitchenette in the back. The last part of the office is on the ground floor and firmly separated from the rest of the place. The medical office has lots of confidential stuff that no one should be allowed to see. We follow American HIPPA and privacy policies. In the medical office there are two offices and an exam room with the same tiny kitchenette and bathroom as the VRC. They also have the strongest AC. It is a good excuse to go story with the Peace Corps Medical Officers, aside from them being fun to story with and generally good people.
Night life in Vila is limited to a few bars, a casino and some night clubs. And the request million kava bars. There are no closing laws which makes for late nights or early mornings depending on how you look at these things. The clubs are unofficially broken up into the “ex-pat,” “tourist,” and “Ni-Van” clubs. The PCVs frequent all three kinds, sometimes in the same night. The casino is a strange place but has a great happy hour. It involves free food, anything that involves free food in Vila is great. The bars almost all have happy hour specials with happy hour ranging from 4pm until about midnight. On Sundays, the town shuts down. I can think of one bar open on Sundays and it closes at 5.
There is a pretty good variety of food. We can get pizza at several places, a few decent and not too expensive burgers, solid “asian” food (it’s a blend of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese), sushi and a variety of French-esque cuisine. This was a French colony, kind of. Of course, any of the food is incredibly expensive to my poor Peace Corps budget. The going price of most restaurant food in Vila is about what you’d expect from a mid-line restaurant in Minneapolis. Except, you know, in a third-world country in the South Pacific. Jason says the beef here is exceptional, which makes sense since it is all free-range, grass fed and organic just without all the labels. There is a significant lack of local dairy. They let the cows run around and never bother to milk them. It is a sorry state of affairs. It also means real milk is non-existent and cheese, yogurt and shelf-safe box milk are very expensive. Ice cream is still totally worth it.
That is at least an overview of what life is like in Vila and why we always seem to be in shock while we’re there. It is a happy and full of ice cream kind of shock.

2-1 The Big City

Vila’s current population is somewhere around 12,000. This is now the Big City. I find this funny, in an overstimulated kind of way. I don’t think the number of vehicles on the road or people on the street has changed, I think it is just me that has changed.

The first night I was in Vila, I was in shock. I went to dinner with a few other PCVs. There were enough of us around the dinner table to make for a few little conversation pockets. I was unable to participate in any of them because I couldn’t keep track of any single conversation. I have lost my ability to track a conversation if more than one is going on in English. I’ve gotten better over the last week, but I still find myself trailing off in the middle of sentences and being distracted by what someone the next table over is saying. I’ve lost my ear filters.

Going to the Mama’s Market was pretty intense, too. The Mama’s Market is a sort of busy place anyway. Last time I was there, my eye kept sticking on the stacks of live crabs, the piles of coconuts, the nangi on a skewer. This time, I found myself struck by the sheer number of people walking around and how many of them were white. The crabs barely registered a second glance, the coconuts weren’t even worth the first glance. I still look at the nangi because they are tasty. They are like buttery almonds. So good! The avocados the size of my head were pretty exciting, too.

I think the hardest part about being in Vila is looking at all the possibilities of food and only being able to eat four times a day. As Jake said after his first meal back from the island, “I can’t wait until I’m hungry again.” I ended up repeating restaurants, not because there aren’t enough restaurants but because I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know where to go. There are also some Peace Corps favorites that we just keep going back to. Jill’s Cafe has awesome ice cream. Chill does a good lunch special that includes a glass of wine or beer. The Port is pricey but worth it as a treat. La Casa has the best pizza in town. I’m not a fan of Olympic Burger, but that is just my vegetarianism speaking. Deli Cafe does French-ish type food and has an all9day pancake menu. There are options, but really, it is all too overwhelming when the only option I’ve had for the last 3 months has been “which house should I eat breadfruit in today?”

I’m heading back to my island now. There will be too much peace and quiet by comparison and not enough friends or family around. That’s ok, I’ll re-adjust in time to come back to Vila and do it again!