Although I greatly enjoyed my journey into the land of hot showers and cold beers, I have to say I'm actually very glad to be back in my tiny little village. When I finally arrived back in Quatamele after a 14-hour day of plane rides, truck rides, boat rides and lots of hiking, I was greeted by my family with my favorite kind of laplap and smiles all around. I laughed with my dad, played with the kids, and handed out presents from Australia, and although my first bucket shower in over a month was quite a shock to the system, I felt so relieved and happy to be back with the people of my village. The entire next day was devoted to claiming my house back from the squatting tenants who had occupied the empty space in my absence. I swatted spiders, shooed cockroaches, swept out rat droppings, and put EVERYTHING in the sun to try to fight back the encroaching mold. A few hours later my house was finally habitable again and I snuggled into my freshly laundered sheets.
The next few weeks were taken up by planning and running a small business workshop. I developed a three day training that would help people start a business, manage their business, and of course control the money within the business. Once again I tried to use a lot of games and activities to get people to really involve themselves and take the message to heart. One of my favorite activities was the first of the workshop. I gathered about 25 different items - all things that could be found on Ambae. There was a saucepan, a piece of fabric, a fishing line, an empty jar, a bag of sugar, a piece of bamboo, and other small things. Then I split the participants into groups of two or three and had each group choose one item. They then had to come up with a business idea using that item and decide on five other things they might need to start their business. I saw this activity open a lot of eyes and turn on a lot of lightbulbs. Sometimes people think that they have to move to the capital or work as migrant workers in New Zealand to make any money and I think they started to understand that money can be made on the island too. We live in a place with amazing natural resources and I loved seeing people start to figure out how they could use those resources. We had a lot of fun over the three days and of course ended with kava and a pig (as you have to with anything in Ambae). And then I slept for two straight days :)