Saturday, December 13, 2008


I posted some pics recently of the gorgeousness of God's creation on display in Vanuatu and you can check out the bottom of this e-mail for a few more. This is a lovely place scenery-wise. It's really not so lovely in smell though. Here are some (literally) stinky things about Vanuatu:

Contrary to what one would expect of the capital of a 3rd world country, Port Vila has a trash pick-up system complete with garbage trucks and everything. It works quite a bit different than what I knew in Idaho and Montana, however. Of course there's no separating out recycling and no sorting required. Trash pick-up ideally happens 3 days a week. I say ideally because there are a million and one public holidays here so many times pick-up days are skipped or they just don't feel like collecting or they take too long and don't get to all of them... Garbage is to be in tied plastic sacks. Pretty much all businesses and all the white folk here have garbage bins. Garbage men don't just dump the whole bin into the truck in one fell swoop though. Rather, they reach into the bin and remove each individual garbage bag from out of the bin, examine it (to see if there's anything they may want), and toss the sack into the truck. Nasty! For everyone else, most ni-Vans just have roughly built wooden shelves up off of the ground that they set their trash up on top of. The idea is to keep trash off the ground so the continually roaming dogs and chickens don't tear open the bags and scatter everything all around. Well, the idea works in some instances but is pretty typically ineffective. The chickens often just fly up to the shelves and dig into the trash. This makes walking tricky here because one can expect to be wading through or stepping around all types of trash, from mango skins to cracker packaging to cans to milk cartons. Most Westerners throw their degradable trash right in with the rest, but ni-Vanuatu throw out things like peels and coconut husks and rotting vegetation into piles. Periodically they burn these piles (they aren't for municipal pick-up) so this makes for two smells - one, the sweet rotting vegetation smell, and two, the smoky burning smell. Mmmmm.

Walking into my building to come home means entering and to the smells of.... well, mold and shoes. (It is considered impolite to wear shoes indoors here so in my building, shoes are taken off in the entryway. At most homes or huts they are left just outside the front door.) Not quite home sweet home, but the smell does remind me of the basements of buildings at Grace College in Indiana, where I graduated from in 2000. The memories there with roommates and friends were sweet so the smell-to-memory trigger is something to be thankful for after all. :)

If you live in a humid State, and have lived in your State without air conditioning or dehumidifiers, you know about this one. It is about 2 days that my bath towels smell good and after that, it's like rubbing your face on an unwashed sock - yuck. The problem this time of year is that it is rarely dry enough to fully dry clothes (and no one has dryers here - or dehumidifiers). Therefore, things never really fully dry,which breeds mold and stink. And, with such high humidity and heat now, I sweat continually. If it's not raining from the sky, it's raining from my head sooo, some of my clothes never fully smell free of sweat either. The other day I was hanging up my (clean, just-washed) clothes and sniffing, thinking, whew - what is that disgusting smell!? After some sniff tests, I realized it was 2 things: my clean clothes, and my just-washed hair. Nice.

Yep, my hair reeks most of the time. Maybe I just need to buy something other than the cheapo shampoo and conditioner I use, but pretty soon after I get out of the shower, it already smells. Unless I entirely shaved my head, there is really no way of keeping my hair dry here. Within seconds of getting out of the shower, I'm sweating and need a shower again, so that could be quite the deal, spending all day in the shower. :) I don't bother, by the way. And since I'm always sweating, even if I sat perfectly still in my house, my hair would never fully dry. Rather than try to let it dry, I just brush it wet and pull it up. It stays up and wet all day until bedtime, when sometimes it dries when I let it down for bed. That means wet scalp all day and stinky, itchy head. Again, nice. :) Speaking of the heat, there are many times now that I have to remind myself not to make an idol of my ceiling fan and stationary fan... :)

Ok, so now who's ready to come visit stinky me and stinky Vanuatu? If I scared you off, just ponder God's creation and beauty here in these last pics and maybe you'll decide to keep saving those dollars for a plane ticket after all. :)

No comments: