So I’ve been back in Vila for the past 3 weeks for Phase 2 of my pre-service training. Things are going really well these days. Over the initial “I live in a tiny village with nothing to do” feeling and now excited about all the projects I want to start. Training was chocked full of speakers, resources, and information. We are on information overload these days with too much to read, too many errands to run, too many things to do online, and a social scene that is always calling.
The thing about being a Peace Corps volunteer is you wear many different hats. For instance, I’m a mentor/assistant to the Village Health Worker, member of the Aid Post Committee, community health educator, community workshop facilitator, grant writer, and health, nutrition, and environmental science teacher at the primary school. I’m also a french student, English tutor, pet owner, daughter, sister, and soon to be auntie. And a struggling basketweaver, a chicken hater, a cow chaser, a gardner, a novice cook, and a want-to-be fisherman. Check out my work in the village page to learn more about my work!
I extended my stay in Vila a week after training because there was too much to do in just two weeks. Then my stay got extended even more due to lost wallet (found the following day at the restaurant I’d been at the afternoon before) and then a delayed flight by the airlines. In addition to getting more work done here at the Peace Corps office I’ve made the best of the extra wweek socially as well. I went diving on Monday which was great fun and I say many fish including a very friendly blowfish, a ship wreck, and lots more. I got to go diving last Wednesday as well with another volunteer who works on reef conservation here. We went diving at night to catch crown of thorns…which are bad and kill the reefs. We pried them off the reefs with metal rods and put them in bags to bring ashore and kill. I only got seven myself but still felt rewarding knowing I helped protect the reef! Then I went to a kava fundraiser last night for the men’s soccer team which is trying to go to the Olympics. My last adventure in Vila this time around is to go to Kakula Island (nearby) with some other foreigners in town. It’s apparently beautiful there! I’m heading out in an hour for a quick overnight trip and then back to the airport tomorrow morning.
More random stories….
We went to the warf yesterday to put our bags on the ship headed to Pentecost since we can only take a small amount of weight on the plane. I had way too much stuff, tons of books and resources, two smokeless stoves, 6 English dictionaries, and food items. One of the other volunteers there befriended the guys working on the ship and asked them to look out for our stuff (always a good idea). The all seems to remember my name from the time I took the Tina 1 to Vila-that’s what happens when you are the only white girl on the ship. The told Lucas they were sorry I wouldn’t be riding back on the ship this time. We also saw a bunch of white packages being loaded on the ship. It turns out they are mosquito bednets which the WHO will be distributing. Very exciting! Hopefully I can help with the distribution of these.
I became the laughing stock of my village one day for chasing cows. One cow which was not tied up with a rope came walking through my yard and trampled on my garden. I was really mad about it. Apparently the cow belongs to the church committee and they don’t have a rope. Well I had had enough of this cow so I took an extra rope of mine and chased the cow, hoping to catch it and tie it up. I was running down the hill after the cow; but no one helped. All the villagers just stood up by the church laughing at me. I felt like Anne on Anne of Green Gables (Mom and sister, you know what scene I’m talking about). Well sadly I didn’t catch the cow. It ran towards another cow which was tied up. The other cow’s rope was slack and just as I tried to run over the top of the rope it moved, making the rope taught. I tripped over the rope tumbling down the hill. Feeling defeated, and continuing to be laughed at, I gave up and walked back to my house. I guess I just have to build a fence around my garden because that makes so much better sense then buying a rope (church committee) and tying up the cow.