6. Sex-crazy roosters
I called them the rapist roosters, which pretty much sum them up. Not that roosters in New Zealand are any different, but I had a fair bit of down time in Vanuatu, and unfortunately became a witness to these roosters doing their ‘thing’ while I was happily minding my own business under a tree. Those poor chooks, no wonder none of the families in my village got any eggs, the hens were always busy having chicks instead!
7. Our housemates
My roommate and I encountered various species in our house during our time, which we proceeded to name. First there was Larry the lizard, he was an approximately 20cm long reptile that chose to live in our food cupboard with the bananas. You’d open the cupboard and get a massive fright when Larry would jump off the inside of the door onto a wall and run away to hide, he certainly kept us on our toes! Then there was Alby, Larry’s albino cousin, he was just as big as Larry, except white. Lil Alb, was the next lizard that began to inhibit our house, he looked exactly like Alby, except was smaller. We wondered if Lil Alb was the offspring of Larry and Alby, but we couldn’t quite figure it out. Next was Sally the Spider, she was really something. She had the leg span of my hand, and loved to just sit on our wall and watch us, with her 8 eyes. I made sure not look away from Sally for too long just incase she decided to go on an adventure around our room and I had to make a run for it!
8. Wood-chopping procedures
Lighting the fire was an essential part of my day, without it there would be no food, and without food, there would be no Saskia. Point made. We had plenty of wood that we’d collected and had given to us, but most of it was way too big for our fire, so we had to chop it… with a rock. There was no saw or anything normal we could use, so I used what anybody else would use during desperate times, rocks, and big ones too! I would get the large branches and sticks we needed to chop and balance them on top of two rocks. Then I proceeded to choose a really big rock, bring it above my head and throw it down onto the innocent branch with heaps of force. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I missed the branch itself. Every time I the rock hit the branch I had to be ready to jump out the way, because there was no telling where that rock would ricochet to after snapping that branch. I had many scratches and bruises after some of my more ruthless attempts at the rock-throwing branch-breaking adventures.
All the pikinini really love stickers. That’s probably the only reason some of my students even did their work in the first place! You would see their face light up when you told them that they got to choose the sticker for the work. However, I always got told off when I stuck the sticker in their book, because the sticker would loose it’s stick! Instead the pikinini preferred to have the sticker either on their hand, forehead, nose or cheek, they usually went for the forehead though. It was hard not to laugh when I looked up from marking work to see a classroom filled with forehead-stickered students.
The kids also loved the word ‘excellent’. If I wrote ‘good work’ next to their spelling test they would get angry at me and say “Eh miss! Put excellent!”
10. Dead animals
This isn’t something that particularly disturbed or surprised me, but I thought I’d add it in anyway. I remember one time Georgia and I went to a wedding in another village. We were climbing up a hill to go to the bride’s house, all of a sudden we ran into a bunch of dead pigs hanging from a tree. It was one of those moments where you just had to take a step back and laugh. Imagine if you went round to someone’s house and they had a bunch of gutted pigs hanging from a tree, and not just the body’s hanging but pig heads too. It was just one of those moments.
Another time I looked outside my house only to find a really big fish hanging from a tree, they were massive! It was rather exciting because I hadn't eaten any form of meat in a month, so I was looking forward to eating them for tea!
Check back next week for "A day in the life of Saskia Whitelock", during my time in Vanuatu!