Friday, May 25, 2007

What a week!

I'm a bit too lazy to write much about my week, which included the arrival of one of our board members from Australia to check out the organisation, a huge stuff up by the airline that was supposed to be flying Benson back from Epi, another huge stuff up on Benson's part, wasted money and time, the dog learning to "sit", and a hell of a lot more waiting around for Ben to come back from the island (which still hasn't happened).

So instead I'm going to post a joke and some photos...

Sleepy Dwarf and Grumpy Dwarf take Dopey to see the Pope.
They arrive at the Vatican and are shown into the Pope's private quarters where they are graciously welcomed.
"Pope," says Sleepy, "We were hoping that you might be able to shed some light on an issue for us... Can you tell me, do nuns wear black and white?"
"Yes", says the Pope. "Nuns certainly do dress in black and white habits."
Dopey looks triumphant and grins cheerfully at the other two.
Then Grumpy asks "But Pope... Do nuns have webbed feet and beaks?"
The Pope looks a bit confused and Dopey starts to look sheepish.
"No boys", says the Pope. "Nuns most certainly do not have webbed feet and beaks."
Sleepy and Grumpy look triumphantly at Dopey and sing "Dopey fucked a penguin! Dopey fucked a penguin!"

Benson and some of the kids from across the road on the fron steps of the office.

The "rego rainbow". This bus is still displaying its road tax stickers from the past decade! And what a lovely rainbow they make! (Yes, I have no life. I'm taking photos of road tax stickers... what did you expect?)

Friday, May 18, 2007

My chocolate dog...

It's been a rather stressful couple of weeks here in Vanuatu what with work going haywire and all. The major problem is too much work and not enough hands... Stressful and frustrating.

Benson has also been away for the last week and a half, on Epi Island for a family wedding which I could not attend due to work. To make matters worse, the first night that Benson was gone someone tried to break into my house where I was sleeping all on my lonesome. I didn't realise anything until the next morning when I went outside through the back door and turned to come back in and noticed a whole heap of scratches on the door near the handle where it looks like someone has tried to use a chisel to break in. The idiots didn't even try to do it properly though! Who tries to break in using a chisel on the door itself? You jemmie the door frame! Fools!

Anywho, I reported it to the owner of the house who tried to tell me that it was "wok blong puskat" (A cat did it), and I laughed in his face and asked him "what kind of cat? a tiger?" Honestly, I'm sure the man thought I was stupid or something. I told him it must have been one of the big two legged "puskats" that I've seen roaming around in the dark.
I made him put sliding bolts on the inside of both the doors and since then have had one of Ben's "sisters" sleeping in the house at night too. She's a whole other story though. It's all I can do to stop myself ripping her arms off and beating her about the head with them. Then again I suppose it comes down to the lesser of two evils... have the sister in law stay over? or potentially get raped and cut up into little pieces? Part of me wants to take my chances with the two legged puskats.

One of the only lights in my nasty fortnight has been this little green eyed guy.

This is Choco (short for chocolate dog), my puppy that Benson got me from his brothers house before he went away. He's cute and full of puppy unco-ordinatedness (and naughtyness too) and has made me smile, even on the worst days this week.

Don't you love him?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ding dong! Vanuatu calling!!

Well my first month here has ended and I’m into my second and I’m still alive, which is quite a big thing really considering the stress of the last month with 80% of our staff leaving, a visit from the big boss from Australia (which didn’t help us much I don’t think), and the huge amount of work that my colleague Joel and I are facing until the new Program Director arrives and our new staff begin. I am fast learning that working here is like trying to nail jelly to the wall… It would be a lot easier with support in the right places to stop bits falling down. However, as frustrating as it can be, the people that I get to work with make it all worthwhile!

In my work I am privileged to be able to work on a regularly irregular basis with Irene Malachi, an amazing lady who is one of only a handful of Ni-Vanuatu people who have been diagnosed and are living with HIV/AIDS. Irene now lectures about AIDS awareness for Youth Challenge at our Youth Skills Summits on outer islands and does a lot of other work for other organisations that are trying to raise awareness of AIDS.

My colleague Joel is another fine reason to keep turning up to work everyday. He’s a lovely guy from Erakor Island (the island opposite Le Lagon, for those in the know), and is always full of smiles, jokes and stories to get us through the day. He is a pleasure to work with and I can’t think what this last week (which has been pretty full on) would have been like without him.

In other news, Benson’s sister-in-law gave birth on Saturday to a beautiful little girl! We went around to her house on Tuesday, which was a public holiday, and met Fredalynn, who is absolutely beautiful. Fredalynn is the second of my friend’s babies to be borth this month. The day after I arrived here, my friend gave birth to her little girl, Lovelyn, nearly a month prematurely. Lovelyn weighed 1.7 kilos at birth and was kept in the premmie baby ward at the hospital until she reached 2 kilos. Apparently nearly 250 babies were born at Port Vila Central hospital in the month of April! They have been so busy that they haven’t been able to keep mum’s for more than 24 hours after birth unless there’s been a problem.

Fredalynn with her big brother and sister.

Last week we attended the Anzac Day Dawn service here in Vila followed by a tasty hot breakfast put on at the local yachting club (there's no RSL and the Anchor Inn had to suffice). I had a hard time trying to explain Anzac Day to Benson and justifying getting up at 5am to get to the service on time, but I think he got it in the end.

Sunset from our verandah.

The last month has been spent visiting friends and “family”, meeting other volunteers around town, working in our “garden”, and working full stop. Each Sunday Benson and I head out to Teouma to see his brothers who are all living there since the Blacksands riots, and to plant new things in our “garden”, which is more like a small farm really. So far we have planted more than 150 island cabbage plants, a heap of corn and spring onions, 40 taro plants (not my choice as I hate taro), and 70 chinese cabbage plants. This weekend we’re going to try and plant some garlic and some watermelon to add to the variety. Once everything is growing properly the garden is going to make things a bit cheaper for us as we won’t have to keep buying certain things at the market.

The weather here is still hot as anything although we have had a few evenings where Benson and others have worn their cold shirts (i.e. sweaters, jackets and jumpers). Mind you, these nights have been few and far between, and most nights I am still jacking up our electricity bill by running the fan full blast.

I haven’t been too home sick, I’m sure you’re pleased to hear. Mostly I wish you all were here rather than me being back in Sydney. However, I am missing the Thai restaurant in Lindfield. At this moment I would give my right arm for a chicken pad thai, some tofu and veggies in oyster sauce and some prawn crackers.

Hope you are all safe and well! Looking forward to hearing how things are going back in Oz!

Wish you were here!

Poor little Wigo, as mentioned in the last post.