Friday, June 25, 2010

Learning how to live in a village

Jim and Houghton have had a few tries at learning how to live in a village.  Gretch and I were in a village overnight on Santo island back on our first survey trip in 2007, and Tania and I spent a few nights up on northern Efate (the island where Port Vila is, where we live now) in a village, but really us girls have had very little opportunity to learn about village living.  The women of Rambwe taught us how to cook creek-grown cabbage, (reminded us how to cook) laplap and scratch coconuts, wash clothes on a board, and luckily we were smart enough to figure out on our own how to use a squat toilet, do bucket showers, and rig up mosquito nets.  We also got good at pumping purified water, doing the buddy system for night toilet runs, standing around in the dark together for brushing our teeth, swatting each others' mosquitoes, and waving moths off the lantern and each others' food at night and flies off each others' food in the day.  Unfortunately we didn't get experience cooking over a fire - that'll have to be next trip.

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Island kakae (food)

The people of N Ambrym went all out in their preparation of food for us.  For what is available this time of year, we were given good variety of foods and were certainly never hungry.  If anything, there was continually far too much for us to begin to eat everything, which was a bit of a dilemma.  They were very concerned that we like the food so we continually ate to bursting to prove we did indeed, enjoy it.  Mornings meant hot water and baked little bread rolls made by John in the village.  Lunch and supper were divided between 5 groups in 3 villages so sometimes Rambwe cooked, sometimes some from Ranon did, and sometimes a group from Lonbwe did.  My favorite was going to someone's home to eat, which we did 3 times.  It meant being able to eat just until full (as they'd be finishing the rest) and enjoying storying with them for awhile, as well as sometimes being able to help with prep or clean-up.  Our main foods were taro, yam, manioc and rice.  Quite often we had minute noodles with a bit of canned tuna thrown in.  Also pumpkin/cooking banana laplap (see pictures) was common, as was island cabbage and cooking bananas.  I LOVED getting the island cabbage and also fairly often some pomplemouse (sweet grapefruit).  Every so often there was some local chicken and a papaya.  Once someone brought freshwater prawns enough for everyone to try one.  YUM!  And of course, there was the wild pig we had on our way out which had amazing flavor.  Local butchering is pretty different than in the States as pieces are just cut wherever they go and all parts are eaten.  And of course wild meat (including chicken) is somewhat tough, but the pig even without seasoning was worth the gnawing it took to eat.  I've put pics of the pig here but please be aware that they are graphic shots so don't watch if you're squemish or don't want kids to see.
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Hangin' with the villagers

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Ranbwe was the village we stayed in the vast majority of the time, although we did head into Ranon (across the creek) a few times and up the mountain to Fanrereo (an hour and a bit hike up) one Sunday.  Most of these pics are of our friends from Ranbwe, who were the main ones feeding us (along with some from a few surrounding villages) and who made sure we had a place to stay.  They were very generous with us, friendly, and always willing to story-on.  We very much enjoyed the time spent with them!  On our way back to west Ambrym to fly out, we stopped in at the hotsprings again and the guys ran (wild) pigs and speared one.  Mmmm, fresh roasted pig is tasty!

On the way to Ranbwe village

To get to Ambrym island, we took a little plane (they had to upgrade the plane size to fit all of us) from Port Vila to the west coast of Ambrym, a village called Craig Cove.  See Tania's pictures on her blog for that leg of the trip at:
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At Craig Cove we hooked up with Sandy (a guy) who runs a boat between the north and west of Ambrym.  At the halfway point (about an hour & 1/2 in) we took a break at a freshwater hotspring.  Sandy and a teacher we were riding with went and dug scrub duck eggs for us and we swam a bit and headed on.  God gave us BEAUTIFUL calm waters and I felt absolutely no motion sickness, hooray!  What a pretty place, hey?

Friday, June 4, 2010