Monday, September 13, 2010

My first from Vanuatu

Well, I’m back in the “city” for interviews with the Country Director, and the medical staff, so I’m taking advantage of the internet available in the Peace Corps office. I made it to Vanuatu and we’re currently living a few miles outside Port Vila for our first week of training, and have been bombarded with information. Unfortunately we’ve been learning a lot more about what could go wrong than language and culture training, but I’ve been assured we will get there. We’ve spent lots of time in health class learning about the possibility of malaria, dengue fever, worms, giant poisonous centipedes, scabies and lice, coral cuts and infections, etc. etc., and we are having a 2 hour session just on diarrhea tomorrow. . . before lunch (E, I guess you should have given me that book ☺ ) . But although my head is reeling, I am having the most amazing time.

Last night we had dinner at the Country Director’s house, and our first Kava experience! His house is beautiful and looks right out on the water, and he and his wife were so welcoming and wonderful (note to anyone who will understand this: the Country Director reminds me so much of Doug Banks! It makes me feel at home and hope later we’ll be throwing spaghetti on the ceiling ☺ ). I was, however, slightly disappointed with the Kava. Despite all the buildup, really all it did was make me kinda tired. But the strange thing about Kava is apparently it works the opposite of alcohol: instead of building up a resistance, it affects you more intensely the more you drink it. And, it takes smaller people MORE kava to feel anything. So maybe I’ll give it another try.

We will be staying in this village until Friday, and then we’ll be split up into “training villages” where we’ll spend the next six weeks. We have a huge group of 40 volunteers, but only about 10 or so will be in each village. I have a really awesome group and am looking forward to getting there. Right now we’re sleeping in tiny houses with 9 other people, living out of our bags, and I can’t wait to get my own room, unpack, and start to feel settled in. We do have the luxury of running water here, but the showers are cold (very very cold!) and this site has a generator, so we have a few hours of electricity every night (although I think there are about 2 outlets in the whole compound, so charging things can be tricky). We don’t have any information on how our training villages will be, but I’m assuming this is pretty high living as far as Vanuatu is concerned. We were issued a bucket for showers and a solar powered lantern, so I have a feeling rougher living is to come. Despite this, I am so happy here. The weather is perfect for me, and even though it’s been pouring rain today, the temperature is still around 80 degrees. The people are amazingly friendly, the water is the kind of blue they don’t even have in a Crayola box, and the natural lush beauty is breathtaking. There are lots of little critters here, but we’re told only the centipedes are poisonous, which makes it easier to appreciate the cute little geckos and brightly colored (giant!) cockroach‐type bugs.

I can’t wait to get to my village, meet my host family (I can’t wait to have a “mama” although I know she’ll be a poor substitute for my mama), and start practicing the language. We’ll be back in town around the end of the first week in October, so hopefully I’ll be able to update on all the new happenings. The only thing that could make this better is if all the people I loved were with me.

I’m off to roam the town looking for things I’ve been told I need to buy. Including a machete. Which should be interesting considering I’m afraid of my Swiss Army Knife. Can any of you imagine me hacking
my way through the jungle? Apparently that’s a likely possibility. Pray I don’t cut off a finger. Ta‐ta! (Bislama for bye)

A quick note about communication: I have a phone! It’s fairly expensive for me to call and text the United States, however, it doesn’t cost me anything to receive texts and phone calls ☺ . I’m told that Google Voice is an excellent way to call internationally and I think the rates should be pretty reasonable. Just thought you should all know that. My number is 011‐678‐5690395. I think the training village will have reception, so for the next six weeks I’ll be available, but I’ll have to wait for site assignments to give you any information after that.

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