Monday, 10 April 2017

Weekend Six: Bread and High Commissions

It was odd to be back with the other volunteers, we were all back together which wasn’t meant to happen. But then again, most of what had happened in the last week wasn’t meant to happen.

Where we were staying people had realised there wasn’t really enough space for all of us to fit in and sleep, 19 volunteers, a family of four, soon to be five, and our two co-ordinators who had flown in. 
The other people in the complex had opened their houses to us so we all got to sleep on a mattress of some sort. It was thicker than 5cm, that’s for sure, but apparently I thought I slept better at Level because I wasn’t so worried about them there, and I knew what was going on with my life.

On Saturday morning, I had an interview of sorts with Phil about what had happened at Level and that I really wanted to stay in Vanuatu. The future of that dream was looking pretty bleak because I was becoming aware of just how bad everything was.

Courtney and I were on a mission that morning, we went and found an internet café that also had computers. We did actually google our names and it’s so weird seeing your name and photo in the top hits of a google search. We read a few of them, but mostly we were there for facebook, to talk to people at home and reassure everyone that we were definitely not dead. It turns out there were 800 articles about me, which is insane. My mum told me that was the figure and it till blows my mind.

Our next trick was going to the supermarket. We bought what we considered a feast. There was no fruit or vegetables in the town so it was pretty much all bread based. There was a croissant each, chips, fruit juice, skittles and m’n’ms. When we got back to where we were staying we the only people around, so we enjoyed our feast and just hanging around doing nothing.

The two of us then went off to the airport to collect Kerri, Courtney’s mum. She was coming to look after all the volunteers so that the co-ordinators could get on with their jobs. We waited for ages at the airport, watching flights of defence relief workers come in, expats return, tourists roll out and aid come in. Kerri was among the last people off her flight but the screaming from her and Courtney was so worth it. I found myself dragged into a tight hug too.

She had brought food with her, we were all a bit amazed at how much she had managed to bring with her, people had donated so much. We were pretty pleased with ourselves because people had sent chocolate. If that can’t lift your spirits, I don’t know what can.

There was another briefing that night, our organisation wanted to keep us as busy as possible so we didn’t have time to mope around. Some guy turned up and asked if we could help him fill up water containers. So we did, because it was something we could to do help.

Sunday was just bizarre. I ended up at the Australian High Commission, meeting Julie Bishop. The lunch itself was pretty disappointing, but I can say that I have met some pretty powerful people and been interviewed about a hundred times. The paramedics who had been on the helicopter were there, Edda and Dave, and they helped us pull off the food heist of the century, smuggling out juice, chocolate and biscuits for the non-Australian volunteers who hadn’t been allowed to come.

That afternoon, Violet, Jasper and I collected plastic bottles that had been abandoned in the streets. There were 120 of them, which I washed and filled. Doing the maths, I think it was about 90 litres of water to hand out. It was something to do when I felt like there was nothing to do.
I found out that I couldn’t go back to Level, it was something that I knew but I had to be said before I would accept it. I had no idea what I was going to do next, it hurt so much and I cried so much I didn’t think I could cry anymore. All of this in a room full of people. There worst part was, there was nothing I could do about any of it.


Love From Me and My Backpack

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Vanuatu Week Six: Silence and Roaring

Losing your voice for 18 hours is a lovely way to start a Monday. I felt like death warmed up. I even missed a taro and chicken feast because I didn’t feel hungry. That said, taro is good for sore throats. Eating rice made me think of swallowing pebbles. Thankfully, I was still able to eat gateau and drink tea.

For all her health on the weekend, Courtney was slammed on Monday. I may have felt like death warmed up but if that feeling was a person, she was it. While I was boiling, she was freezing and couldn’t move. We were worried because 10 days earlier she had missed a doxy and malaria takes 10-14 days to show up. Thankfully, she ended up just being sick.

I washed for the first time since classes were cancelled, which felt amazing because I was grubby and sweaty. I never realised how much I liked showers and being clean until this week. When you’re constantly filthy, you appreciate the scrubbing and the freezing water.

The week progressed in the weirdest fashion. Buildings were chopped to pieces, other buildings repaired. School was cancelled for the week because the weather was still unpredictable, the classrooms were too damaged and the students needed to help with the clean up. The phone reception was still terrible and I thought it might just have been us, so I was ready to walk further north when my lungs stopped trying to escape my chest. That was until I found out it could be a month before the phones were back up.

We did slowly but surely get better. Well enough to focus on other things. Myra, my friend, was meant to come to visit us in two weeks. We just assumed she was still coming, so we’d be able to pass messages through her. We discovered a lime/lemon drink which was heavenly, so we kept an eye out for lemons.

Even as this happened though, food was running out and so was water. Bananas were at every meal and there was no more aelan cabbage. There is only so many bananas a person can eat before they go crazy, these bananas were also not quite ripe and cooking them had not improved them. Water had to be hauled up from the river past Wosak because the tank had run dry. Things were not looking good.

Thursday was the worst of it for Courtney and I. We ventured into the plantation to open coconuts and pour the water into the water bottles we had. The water we had been given had questionable floating things in it. We opened 20 odd coconuts to fill the three bottles. While we were out, we saw a helicopter flying super low. Everyone was going nuts about it because planes are a rarity, let alone a heli. It seemed to hover in front of us for a bit, the two of us waved but couldn’t see who was inside. We made a joke about Americans and could they please fix the phone towers. I didn’t know just what that helicopter would mean.

Mamie discovered the coconut water and marched all of the kids, the two of us included, off to a neighbouring water tank to fill the drinking containers. Somehow there was taro and cabbage at dinner. The afternoon and evening were spent chewing sugarcane, laughing, playing ukulele, dancing, painting nails and hanging out with our family.

Much like the Friday of the cyclone, I will never forget the Friday that followed. Nothing could ever have prepared me for that. We woke up late, just after seven. Courtney asked me what time it was, she didn’t hear my response, so she turned her phone on. It nearly exploded with messages. I leapt out of bed and we started laughing and dancing. Dad ran to our door and banged on it, thinking something was wrong. Everyone was in our house, Courtney called her mum while my phone caught up the texts. All we could hear to start with was Kerri screaming. 

Then I called my mum. The call came up as an unknown number on her phone, so she answered with just her name. “Hi Mum, it’s Zoë” I have said those four words before and after that day, but never have I been so glad to say them. I spoke to Mum, Dad and Angus. It was amazing, Dad was about to go on the radio. Apparently I was all over the news. There was a helicopter being sent to collect the two of us. It just didn’t seem real.

The next three hours were a blur of getting messages through to people that we couldn’t get to the harbour, the helicopter would have to land closer to us. We saw it go over us but then it didn’t come back. I later found out it was getting other people. A young man from the village ran up the hill shouting about coconuts falling from the sky. He had a plastic bag, which had had a coconut and two notes in it. He had offloaded the coconut to run up the hill with the note. It said the helicopter was coming for us.

While we waited, we ate breakfast, tiny birds are mostly bones. Jineth braided my hair, we sat with our families and stopped our sisters painting their teeth with nail polish. Then the helicopter started to come down where the church had been. We ran up the hill, hugged and kissed our way through the crowd and ended up in the helicopter. On board was Terry, two paramedics, two pilots and an Australian official. We were given a chocolate muffin each and shared a bottle of water. They said they had more stored but we didn’t care, we were happy to share.

The ride to Santo was 20-30 minutes and was incredibly loud. It was pretty awesome too. We had been the hardest people to find but not the last to be picked up. They were going back to get Ally, Camille and Fineen.

At Santo, it was like stepping into a different world. We washed our faces, cleaned our teeth, ate chips and got our hands on a newspaper. My photo was in the paper. The story was about me being missing. It was so weird seeing that. We gave a report to a medic who was working on food and water supplies.

We were flown to Port Vila in an Air Force Kinger. It seats six, one of the seats was taken up by a life raft. Flying over Vila, there was no green, just brown and smoke from people burning all the debris. The airport wasn’t too tidy itself but that was not the biggest thing I had to think about. I was about to shake hands with the Australian High Commissioner. His name is Jeremy, he’s very nice. We signed information release forms, had a media briefing and then we stood behind the commissioner in front of news cameras. We ended up giggling a bit because it just didn’t seem real.

Courtney and I answered three questions afterwards. We told people we were good and very glad that no one in our community was hurt and that I didn’t know what I was going to say to my parents when I saw them next, I wanted to stay until July. We were asked how we felt when the coconut came down, we just laughed at that one.

We were taken to where everyone else was staying and ate peanut butter on bread, which was amazing. There was pasta for dinner. Everyone talked about what happened to them, sounded as though Level was hit the worst but Ambae barely felt it. We were having interviews the next day and then Courtney and I were collecting Kerri from the airport.

My family saw me on the news. I got to call Jack, I texted people back home and I ate enough food and drank a lot of water. I knew one thing for sure, I did not want to go home, I was not ready to say goodbye to Level and I was not finished in Vanuatu. I just hoped I was going home to Level soon.


Love from Me and My Backpack

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Vanuatu Weekend Five: Damage

We survived! Happy one month on Pentecost to me. I spent Friday on the floor in the same room as all the sisters, Kerina, Basil and Leona. Mamie, Viran, Kelly, Lavi, Krystal, Sorina, Roger and Dad slept in the other room. I got kicked in the head all night by Jineth, Kay kept rolling onto me, it was about the same temperature as the surface of the sun but we got some sleep.

After breakfast we waited for the all clear. We spent our time playing with the local kids. The ones who aren’t at school yet are either terrified or completely intrigued by white people. Some liked having their tummies tickled, others screamed when they saw us. Can’t win them all.

The climb back home was silent. There was no wind, no rain, just Courtney, Faylina, Kesia and I. 
Surrounding us was destruction, fallen trees, ripped branches. Raton Village had a house with a tree straight through it while the house next door was untouched.  The school station had taken more damage. The school office, known for its drunken angle, had collapsed, class six was all but destroyed, I climbed in under broken beams, had I been sitting at the teacher’s desk in the storm, I would have been squished. The cobana was gone, kindy and class three had lost their roofs, class one and two was a mess and the water tank had a massive split through the bottom.

My little house hadn’t escaped. The roof at the front was gone, there were holes over the bedroom. The toilet had survived, so had the kitchen. The shower didn’t have a roof and the door wasn’t attached anymore, that was going to make life interesting. Our belongings were just in need of a wash.

From what we heard, no one was hurt during the storm, not even a chicken. Ours had sheltered in the big kitchen, which was total mess from them. The cows were already back to their usual antics. Sadly so was the Small Devil but the rats seemed to be in hiding.

The Ni-vans are incredibly resilient. My dad was straight up on our roof, reattaching it. Mr Kelly was doing the same to his. We were all out collecting the fallen fruit. The calm now wasn’t waiting, it was the resting kind.

Sunday was kind of the start of many problems for us.  Turns out it takes a cyclone to take me down and I got really sick like everyone else had been before. Coughing, sweating through whatever I was wearing, itchy ears, sore throat, the works. As soon as the Panadol started to wear off, I felt like my head was going to explode. Courtney, on the other hand, actually felt better and was out helping with sweeping in other buildings. She also had flying fox for lunch. I tried it and I am never keen to again, but she claimed to like it. I am not going forget the smell of burnt fur for a long time.  

The phones were down too, so we had no way of telling people that we were ok. I hoped people weren’t worrying too much but I knew that the news would be reporting the worst of the damage. I didn’t think that’s where I was because we were all still alive, life was getting back to normal and the cyclone had only skirted us. I also reasoned that soon enough Australia and New Zealand would be sending aid in. Surely it wouldn’t be too long until we had contact.


Love from Me and My Backpack

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Vanuatu Week Five: Cyclone Pam

I could have edited this episode but instead I took it straight from my journal entry that day. And yes, I was painfully aware that it was Friday the 13th.  This was written in Wosak Village.

This morning the wind got heavier and the wind stronger. We had gateau for breakfast and that was when it started to get bad.

We had to bolt from the kitchen because the roof was being showered with coconuts. We hid in the store until Mamie told us to run to Miss Viran’s. We were there until lunch. There were 11 kids, Courtney, Miss Viran and me in the house.  I managed to rescue my passport and important documents from our house. Viran’s house literally bowed in the wind. The school office is down, I don’t know where the water tank is. There was a scramble by assorted Ni-van adults to reinforce roofs further, ours in particular but I doubt the classrooms will have them when we go home.

Funny to think I refer to a dirt and bamboo hut as home but it’s true and I pray it’s still there when we go back. Daddy Ben’s place blew down already but him, Mammy, Hensley, Firenze and Nikki are all safe.

Anyway, there was an almighty crack and Kelly’s kitchen came crashing down. Kerina and Auntie were both inside and Mamie said that Dad had to lift the building to get them out. So it was decided that we were evacuating to Wosak. We were sent home to grab clothes etc and I was lucky enough have my journal and bible in the bag I chucked stuff in.

The walk down the hill is the single most terrifying thing I have ever done. Future me, should you decide to walk down a muddy hill in a cyclone, you are crazy and should stay put unless there is no other option. The path is entirely surrounded by trees, which in strong gusts can and do fall down. The descent was a mixture of bolting as fast as humanly possible, screeching to a stop and sliding through mud, half falling the whole time.

I prayed my way down that hill, a tree fell just behind us, Roger was carrying Lavi and I thought we’d lost Basil for a minute. Even though they were telling us not to be scared, every single person scrambling down that hill was in some way. I prayed that we made it to the village intact, nothing more. I had to talk to myself rather sternly for a minute because there was no way I was going to die terrified on a muddy hill. It paid off.

We made it to the Nakamal in one disgusting, soggy piece. I was soaked though, my pyjamas were due for a wash anyway and it was easier to walk in them than my skirt. Oh, the rat that ate my shoes took a few good chunks out of my favourite skirt. I fixed it yesterday. I hope the rat drowns. At the Nakamal, we changed and ate. I have never been so happy to be inside in my life.

Since then, we’ve been moved to a very sturdy house, it’s raised off the ground and you can’t feel the wind. We’ll stay here until the cyclone passes. She’s expected to hit Vila at 1:57 tomorrow, I believe in the morning. This time tomorrow, 3:30pm, we should have survived the worst. Perhaps we’ll be home.

So I don’t forget, the rain is so heavy at points that you cannot see. Complete white out. The wind bends trees in two, they crash into each other and domino down. It’s not hot, it’s constantly dark and the sound of air and water is ever present. This is the worst cyclone Vanuatu has faced in 35 years, since 1980. It’s going to be a hell of a story to tell.

I didn’t realise just how true that sentence was when I wrote it. Just because the cyclone was passing didn’t mean life would go back to normal.


Love From Me and My Backpack

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Vanuatu Week Five Monday to Thursday: Batten Down the Hatches

Monday started with bad weather and Courtney having a cold. The weather was so bad that the edges of our roof would lift up and there was a patch of rain water on my bed. The pouring rain did have one advantage, I had the biggest bucket shower of my life. I felt clean for a whole ten minutes.

We were sitting outside in the afternoon when Lavi appeared and started pretending to read us Courtney’s book. We had some picture books inside, which I grabbed. She was delighted with them and spent the rest of the afternoon laughing at us and the pictures. She also got into a fight with a chicken and stole my hat, there is never a dull with moment with that little girl about.

The other exciting thing about that Monday was that we had been in Vanuatu for a month. Somehow we’d actually managed to not make complete fools of ourselves the entire time. It was quite an achievement because every day there was something else that I’d never experienced before.

Tuesday explained why the weather was so bad. There was a cyclone hanging out near the Solomon Islands and we were getting updates about where it was headed. Courtney and I packed away our belongings and stored them under the beds, important documents waterproofed. We just had to hope and pray for the best.

The rest of the day was just normal life. I sewed my sandals back together because a filthy rat had eaten straight through the straps. They were the only shoes I had left and I really wanted to keep them. The Ni-vans were amused, I was not. We had namumbwai which I split open myself, before I could eat it, cheeky baby Krystal came and nicked mine straight out of my hand.

Waiting for a cyclone is not a very exciting experience in many ways. Classes were cancelled on Wednesday. Everything was moved to the class five room because it was deemed the most structurally sound. After that, we were practically confined to our house. All around us, trees were being cut down, branches cut back, roofs reinforced and belongings collected. The metal roofs were taken off buildings and weighted down because it is hard to come by and can be deadly in the air.

I got a call from my mum, asking me if I was worried. I was less worried on Wednesday because people had been preparing for it, unlike on Tuesday. My brain had decided there was nothing I could do about this cyclone and that what was going to happen would happen. I just had to trust God and that his plan was the best thing for me, there was no point fighting that.

Thursday morning we got a message, the cyclone, Pam, was not coming at us as a 3 but as a full on 5. On Pentecost there is a kastom that spitting a certain leaf into the wind would keep the cyclone away from us. Needless to say, I was a little sceptical about that.

The weather really started to creep me out. I could deal with the wind and rain but there were these moments in between the two where nothing was moving. I began to understand why people who had been through cyclones and other natural disasters say the calm is the worst. The waiting is the storm getting close enough to do damage but not being quite close enough to actually show up on time.

Admittedly, we were better off than the Solomons, who had been beaten by Pam and then had Nathan smashing into the other side. There was also a third system developing between Fiji and Tonga. I decided that it must have been “Let’s Destroy The Pacific Nations” month.

Meanwhile, more trees were coming down. We helped drag coconut palms up the hill to secure the roofs. This involved hoisting them up to the person on the roof, who would then tie two together that were draped across the width of the roof. This would stop the roof lifting in the wind, no one wanted that in the night. 

Kerina, Kay, Wawa and Jineth stayed in our front room on Thursday night. They made a real slumber party of it, hair braiding and everything. The rain was torrential, the wind knocked the trees about. Sadly, the worst was yet to come. Pam was just getting started.


Love From Me and My Backpack

Monday, 1 February 2016

Vanuatu Weekend Four: Gardens and Visitors

Saturday was the day that Phil, the Australian co-ordinator, and Terry, the in-country co-ordinator, were meant to arrive in our little slice of Pentecost. We got a text saying they were coming on Sunday, giving us a free day.

I discovered the name for the eight shaped donuts is “gateau”, just like French cake. We helped make 47 of them for breakfast and as a result didn't  eat until after 10 because it takes a while to cook them all. I ate two without blinking. The rest of the morning was spent lazing around and reading. Kesia, my sister in year 3, came to collect me to go to the garden. We left Courtney sleeping off a headache and I grabbed my bush knife. In case you haven’t guessed, I love my bush knife.

Turned out I was going to the garden with my family, the ones that are not Courtney’s. Kay dropped me off at my family’s garden. I hadn’t seen a great deal of my family. I taught two of my siblings, Hensley and Firenze, but they live down at Wosak village and my Daddy is a francophone so I had to learn Bislama. My baby sister, Nikki, was not at all impressed with me and spent a lot of time crying. Weird, white girls, I know right. By the end of the day, she was better but I still didn't get a cuddle.

I spent that afternoon with them, eating sugar cane and answering questions before lunch. They had a lot of questions about family and Australia. Daddy is very talkative, Mammy would help when we got stuck with the language. We had banana laplap for lunch with island cabbage. Island cabbage will never be on my list of favourites, but I ate all of it and most of my laplap. I also had pawpaw which I was truly in love with. Firenze, who is in class one for the first time, and I ended up sitting outside while Mammy roasted taro in the garden hut, baby Nikki did not want to join us.

On the grand tour of the garden, I quickly discovered that they grow just about everything. Sugarcane, kava, banana, manioc, yam, taro, kumala, pawpaw, island cabbage and coconut. I planted a banana tree which I was assured would grow big and strong. I also helped Mammy pick island cabbage and wrap it into the packages to be carried back. I didn’t carry the cabbage but I did carry a piece of sugarcane longer than I was tall all the way back to Level and I didn’t fall over once. Mammy informed me that she was going to teach me to weave. They were going to make a proper island girl out of me.

Daddy came to visit a little later and gave me a tin of corned meat, meat blo taro. This was after I had showered, so I was clean and wearing different clothes. He thought I was Courtney because I washing clothes like she had been when he walked past earlier. We both laughed when we established that I was in fact the daughter he was looking for.

This is the time that I had discovered that there was a rat eating my sandals. Turns out that leather sandals are a tasty snack for the rats who lived in our house. I had to keep finding new hiding places for my shoes because everywhere I thought up seemed to not be as rat proof as I thought. I didn’t wear my sandals for the most part anyway. My thongs broke in Mangaliliu and it took a lot to explain why I didn’t wear shoes, so I needed my sandals to stay in one piece for when I did need some form of protection.

Sunday dawned on us with excitement in the air and pig on our breakfast plates. We didn’t go to church because no one really knew when Terry and Phil would be arriving, instead we stayed on station and made banana pie. It amused everyone passing by as we were still fairly hopeless at making fires. My Mammy came past and gave us a hand with that. She also gave us taro and kumala. A lot of the local kids came with her and were intrigued by our cooking. The best part was baby Nikki holding my hand twice!

Terry and Phil arrived in style as Courtney and I were drinking tea. They were walked to the school from just outside the station, surrounded by a group of the men who were singing before they were presented with flowers and baskets. Many speeches were given by board members, Phil and Terry, Dad and a letter from a previous volunteer, Nikki, was read out. The year 1/2s sung the choruses very quietly but word perfect. We were all given morning tea and we presented Phil and Terry with the banana pie, topped with Nutella. Everyone laughed at the pie, not because it was funny but because they were proud of us and impressed that we had tried something like that. Phil was amazed we still had Nutella.

Lunch had the two of us eating out of banana leaves and not being treated as guests anymore, we sat with the women and kids after a bit of talking with the men. The mixing of the cultures was a bit funny. Shortly after lunch Phil and Terry had to leave and life returned to relative normal. The afternoon was spent painting nails, playing ukulele, painting Courtney’s ukulele and writing out the words to Christian songs we could remember so we could teach them to the kids. 

That evening all of our sisters started getting sick with coughs and shivers. They had been fine while the entire village system was about but they ended up falling asleep in the kitchen, poor things. It was a busy weekend for everyone so maybe they were just worn out, the kids were often sick though. Didn’t seem to stop them enjoying themselves for the most part.


Love from Me and My Backpack

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Vanuatu Week Four: Alphabets and Feasts

A lot of people are not fans of Mondays, particularly that morning struggle to pull yourself together and get to work or school after a week. This Monday morning was a bit harder, not because I didn’t love where I was and what I was doing. No, after the wretched dog barked all night. The cows started mooing at 5. At assembly it was revealed that if they’re on school property, we are allowed to kill them. Jeffery’s dad’s bullock needed to watch himself because my mamie had plans involving a bush knife and a feast.

Monday afternoon was spectacular! Courtney and I watched Sorina and Lavi while their mum taught class five. We made sweet rice, ate fruit, coloured and scrubbed some pots. When school let out, the sisters came and collected us. We were off to the garden for the first time. I have major respect for the gardens and their owners, the sheer amount of food that comes out of them is incredible. It took half an hour to walk there, barefoot up and down the hills sliding in the mud, bush knife in hand. We dug taro, collected bush cabbage, picked island cabbage and devoured sugar cane. I loved the garden, as you go down into the valley there is so much greenery hiding the actual gardens. It’s like walking into a secret, as though the place might be forbidden for some reason, it is so beautiful.

In class one and two we ended up with four English groups. I still had the top level Pineapples, but I also had the Soursops. Soursop is a fruit that smells nasty but is delicious, it was the only fruit we could think of in a pinch. The Soursops were 5 francophone transfers who no idea what was going on. Their main goals were learning the alphabet and writing their names. They really needed a confidence boost too. It looked like it was going to be an uphill battle. On Tuesday, Familla and Jerine, two of the soursops, managed to write the whole alphabet out between them. It took an hour and a half but they did it! I was so proud of them!

Reading was my planned activity for Tuesdays in classes five and six. I had no other explanation for that disaster other than God testing my patience. I got totally blank looks for the hour I spent with each class. It didn’t matter who I asked to read, how slowly we went through the work, it just didn’t work. Why anyone would write a book about a Mexican walking fish called Pepe who looks like a banana is beyond me. In class five, I kept repeating the word banana. Lavi walked into the classroom, handed me a banana, smiled so big her tiny face nearly split in half and left again. She didn’t say a word. Everyone in my class looked at the banana, looked at Lavi, looked at each other, looked at Miss Viran, looked at me, looked at the banana, looked at where Lavi had gone and then we all burst out laughing.

Tuesday was also Mamie’s birthday. Courtney and I spent the afternoon with Wawa (Auntie) cooking. We made banana laplap and while it was cooking we had to keep running out of the kitchen, eyes streaming because of the smoke. It made splitting the cabbage take a very long time.  Birthdays mean feast in Vanuatu. Mamie’s birthday was no exception. We had laplap, noodles, rice, bread and cake. There was cordial as well. I never claimed that the food I ate was healthy but parties really were all about the carbs. We played uke and cards, two things I was getting very good at. There was singing too, there is always singing though.

It was a food week because on Wednesday, we were hanging around before breakfast when Dad and Daddy Presley showed up carrying a whole pig. Well, half a pig each which they had already gutted. It certainly explained the barking we woke up to. Breakfast was the eight shaped donuts, except not eight shaped and real bread. I had some of my bread a s a snack later. We had island cabbage and namumbah at lunch. Namumbah is a kind of nut that you cook at eat. It’s not particularly flavoursome but it is tasty. Then the school was having a fundraiser after classes so we had baked taro and pork at 4:30. This was after I had eaten a simporo roll that was actually really good. The day was polished off with more pork and taro for dinner. I have never had food baby quite as spectacular.

It was a good thing it was sports day as well. The whole school played Cat and Mouse and Seaweed, which started people laughing. Then while the big girls played volleyball and the boys played soccer, we taught the year 1/2 girls the hokey pokey. The whole body shake had all the parents laughing. We also played left, right, under, over which was designed during maths week and duck, duck, goose. No one could stop laughing and when I almost rolled down the hill we were playing on, I had to agree.

On Friday I opened a coconut all by myself! I popped a blister but I was still super pleased with myself. We also got to use our little kitchen for the first time. We made soursop and orange tea to celebrate and didn’t burn ourselves. We then invested in a box of matches and a bag of sugar. Phil and Terry were due to visit us that weekend, so we taught year 1/2 the choruses to “Our God” and “10,000 Reasons”, they could sing the song but they liked to do it in an echo. They’re funny kids.


Love from Me and My Backpack