The houses we are staying in currently.
The view from my house, an 'intracoastal' sort of, which goes out to the ocean.
We were greeted at the airport with lavalavas, suvasuvas (the necklace and skirt) and coconut water.
I’ll try to summarize my experience thus far with bullets:
-Flight was long and arduous. I was completely happy to have arrived here and have a safe place to drop my bags and not be sitting in an airline seat. Our Country Director said that its one of the longest transit times of any country that the Peace Corps serves.
-I had no anxiety whatsoever until the plane landed in Port Vila. It was a passing moment where I said to myself “This is your home now” as I looked at the airport, which is one rectangular, two-story building which you can walk from one side to the other in about 1 minute or less. The anxiety quickly passed (in about 2 seconds) and I feel totally at home here.
-Currently I am considered a Peace Corps Trainee, and at the end of eight weeks, I will be sworn in as a full-fledged Peace Corps Volunteer. If you are wondering how things are going now, I can sum it up in one sentence: I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
-This week we are staying at a resort which has sharks and coral reefs and some simple brick buildings where we sleep. Water is usually cold, electricity goes in and out, and our toilet does not flush, but it is still paradise. There have also been some reports of spiders that are as large as one’s hand which have managed to somehow ‘disappear’ as one of the trainees was trying to kill it. My roommate says he can hear a rat too, at night. This, and a few unfortunate run-ins with UNUSUALLY large webs which coat my face as I try to leave my room in the morning, cause me to shake the sh** out of any towel or piece of clothing I am about to put near my face. Keep in mind these large webs are INSIDE my room, not outside, which means there are spiders, I just haven’t managed to see them yet.
-I get up at 6:30a, do yoga with my friend Amy, eat breakfast, and have class from 7:30a-5:30p, including lunch and tea breaks. We follow it up with some snorkeling or kayaking before dinner in the evening. Classes taught include Bislama language (which I love), medical classes about how everything here will infect us and make us sick, and cultural training.
-The food can be hit or miss. For some reason taro root makes me gag. But aside from that most of the food is excellent if only a little bland, and the fruit is easily the best I’ve eaten in my life.
-Tonight we are watching a Vanuatu movie called “Sorry Sally” about Sexually Transmitted Infections. Sorry indeed.
-It turns out that Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have the highest incidence of malaria in the world. This hopefully won’t affect me, as I’ll be taking Mefloquine on a weekly basis. However, the World Health Organization asked that Peace Corps to assist in their new project for Vanuatu: malaria eradication. This won’t just be for health volunteers; I too will be assisting in ending malaria in Vanuatu. They asked us to help because we have a huge presence here in Vanuatu, and decided we would be easier to use than to try and install their own people in the villages. I’m really excited to be a part of this legacy.
-This Friday, I am moving off to my training village, which is on the north coast of Efate Island (I am not allowed to say the specific location for safety reasons). Here I will be staying with a host family (Helen and Taman) with about 4-5 other volunteers near me, staying with other families. I’m really excited to meet my new “mama” as they are called.
All in all, everything is perfect. I don’t feel homesick at all, I love my training group, and I’m really excited to get my technical training started so I start to hammer out my actual job. For now, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves. Don’t be too jealous, this one week is just to get us all of the critical information before we get put out into malaria zones and have to communicate with Ni-Vanuatu (the term for people from Vanuatu). You probably won’t hear from me until November, so for now, I will say goodbye in Bislama: “Ale, lukim yu bageken!” (Alright, see you again!)