Monday, January 16, 2006

Hairy Faces

excerpt from "The Twits" by Roald Dahl

What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays.
When a man grows hair all over his face it is impossible to tell what he really looks like.
Perhaps that's why he does it. He'd rather you didn't know.

Then there's the problem of washing. When the very hairy ones wash their faces, it must be as big a job as when you and I wash the hair on our heads.

So what I want to know is this. How often do all these hairy-faced men wash their faces? Is it only once a week, like us, on Sunday nights? and do they shampoo it? Do they rub hair-tonic in to stop their faces from going bald? Do they go to a barber to have their hairy faces cut and trimmed or do they do it themselves in from of the bathroom mirror with nail-scissors?

I don't know. But next time you see a man with a hairy face (which will probably be as soon as you step out on to the street) maybe you will look at him more closely and start wondering about some of these things.

As you know, an ordinary unhairy face like yours or mine simply gets a bit smudgy if it is not washed often enough, and there's nothing so awful about that.

But a hairy face is a very different matter.

Things cling to hairs, especially food. Things like gravy go right in among the hairs and stay there. You and I can wipe our smooth faces with a flannel and we quickly look more or less all right again, but the hairy man cannot do that.

We can also, if we are careful, eat our meals without spreading food all over our faces. But not so the hairy man. Watch carefully next time you see a hairy man eating his lunch and you will notice that even if he opens his mouth very wide, it is impossible for him to get a spoonful of beef-stew or ice-cream and chocolate sauce into it without leaving some of it on the hairs.

Mr. Twit didn't even bother to open his mouth wide when he ate. As a result (and because he never washed) there were always hundreds of bits of old breakfasts and lunches and suppers sticking to the hairs around his face. They weren't big bits, mind you, because he used to wipe those off with the back of his hand or on his sleeve while he was eating. But if you looked closedly (not that you'd ever want to) you would see tiny little specks of dried-up scrambled eggs stuck to the hairs, and spinach and tomato ketchup and fish fingers and minced chicken livers and all the other disgusting things Mr. Twit liked to eat.

If you looked closer still (hold your noses, ladies and gentleman), if you peered deep into the moustachy bristles sticking out over his upper lip, you would probably see much larger objects that had escaped the wipe of his hand, things that had been there for months and months, like a piece of maggoty green cheese or a mouldy old cornflake or even the slimy tail of a tinned sardine.

Because of all this, Mr. Twit never really went hungry. By sticking out his tongue and curling it sideways to explore the hairy jungle around his mouth, he was always able to find a tasty morsel here and there to nibble on.

-This blog post inspired by Lucy Bansley

Friday, October 28, 2005

ice cream and omens

I'm sitting in Port Vila at the moment, recovering from a case of...well, something. We (the Peace Corps doctor and I) haven't exactly pinpointed it. We've been eliminating diseases left and right, which is basically how everything works in the medical field. Many times all you really know for sure is what you DON'T have. Anyway, I don't have lots of things. I've learned that I have had Mono before(something unbeknownst to me) so I can't have that now, I don't have HEP B or C (still might have A...don't know...probably not), I don't have Leptospirosis (a bacterial infection that comes from rat piss...that's lucky because rats LOVE my house), I don't have malaria, and I don't have AIDS. So the way I see it, I'm doing pretty good.
The reason I left site and came to Vila is because I was sick. I was weak all the time, I didn't have an appetite, I had dark yellow pee, and my eyes turned yellow (jaundice), I felt like sleeping (and many times did) after every meal. Anyway, I thought that I had hepatitis, which scared me, so I called up the doctor, and she didn't disagree. She told me to come in, and we could check things out...Test some blood, take some R&R. Now, we have decided that something is NOT okay with my liver. Either from kava, or melfloquine (anti-malaria medicine), or from another antibiotic called Fluxicillen, which can cause jaundice/hepatitis/general liver problems (one of those "rarer" things, but the closest thing to a diagnosis that we've come up with so far). Oh, and I've had an open wound (a boil) on my foot (right smack in the middle of my tattoo) for about 6 weeks now. This is something that I've begun to consider as some kind of omen the more I think about it and the meaning that I vested in my tattoo, being that the boil has pretty much desicrated a critically important symbolic part of the tattoo, thus changing the whole meaining in a way (although I won't go into all that). But artsie-fartsie tattoo philosophy BS aside...
...things are on the upswing. I feel much better now. My open wound is beginning to show signs of "closure," and now I have energy. I just have to let my liver heal. No kava, no beer, for at least 6 months. this shouldn't be hard considering there are no refrigerators on the outer islands for cold beer, and kava tastes like shit. So, it's no sweat off my back to quit that altogether.
I have about 3 more days here in Vila, where I can eat litres of ice cream to my hearts content. That's been my own personal "custom medicine" while I've been here in Vila...A litre a day. I've almost tested every flavor now! But this is not gluttony, rest assured. I am really eating all this ice cream for the containers. Good tupperware is very hard to come by in Vanuatu.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Mefloquine kava
making me weak and yellow
killing my liver

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

kava haiku

kavalactones soak
then I see double vision
now I sleep all day

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ooooohh, volcanoes!

Pentecost Island

This is my island. To give you an idea of scale, if I were to walk from Bwatnapni to Labultamata (also on the west coast just north) it would take about 4-5 hours...depending on the condition of my weakling feet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Here is where I am...

Central Pentecost is my new home.
Bwatnapni Village, which is not listed, to be more specific. It's on the west coast and is not very big. 200 people. 150 of them are students in the primary and secondary school there. The secondary school is a boarding school. Until now (for the past three months) I've been living on Efate.
Look above to see more maps!

Givum titi hemi numba wan

Bislama is a great language. Not necessarily when you’re trying to explain anything with any sort of detail, due to the fact that one word here can have five+ different meanings. Whereas in America you and I are “spoiled” with five+ words, which all mean the same thing, but that pretentious beings long for to make themselves sound smarter. But, I digress. Bislama is such a fantastic language because it’s hilarious (see title!), it’s simple, and there don’t seem to be many tabu (off limit) words, unlike in our overflowing-with-political correctiveness American society. PC makes us lame.
Anyway, here are a few words/phrases that I’ve encountered thus far. You be the judge.
Givim titi hemi numba wan - Bislama
(to give titty is number one) – literal translation
Breast feeding is the best – English

1.Doa blong sit sit
(door for excrement)

2.Taem we san I draon
(time when the sun drowns)

3.Sacum laen
(To throw out your fishing line)
To try and attract a girl with your mad skills

4.The word “pulum” (it’s got 15 different meanings!)
My favorite meaning = “to attract”
The example sentence in the Bislama dictionary =
Man ia I stap mekem masing blong pulum ol gel.
That guy perfoms love magic to attract girls.

5.Rod blong man
(rod of a man)

6.Planem Fes
(to plant your face)
To fall down after you have had too much kava

8. Hem I bin kakae tel blong pik
(he ate the tail of a pig)
When someone cannot sit still

9.The word “putum” (14 meanings)
Here = “to develop”
Example sentence=
Wan bigfala boela I putum long lefsaed as blong mi.
A huge boil has developed on my left buttcheek.

10. China wantaem
(China one time)
Something that is made in China and lasts only one day.
*This is by no means a racist comment. It’s just a fact, and something that everyone here must deal with every day. Here in Vanuatu there are tons of Chinese shops, and they all sell cheap low quality crap.

That’s all for now. I hope you all find these at least partially as enjoyable as I do. I’ll post more when I get back to a computer in a few months.


Long yia 2005
Pis Kops Kam long yu
Yumi wan taem 23 strong be noia yumi 22.
Numba 12 Jun kasen 25 Auks
Ol famili blong mi helpem fulap
Mangaliliu mi likum yu
Vanuatu mi likum yu

Som man huk noweeta o pullem Kanu
Ol mama karem lunj evridei
Oli tijim mifala long kakae laplap (pause for drum solo) Klosap evriwei
Mangaliliu mi likum yu
Vanuatu mi likum yu

Klosap long 3 am
kranke faol i singaot...woo, woo!
(Barbershop quartet break)
Mangaliliu mi likum yu
Vanuatu mi likum yu

Klosap long 8 am
andanit long mango tri
afta wan haor aelan taem
Mangalili mi likum yu
Vanuatu mi likum yu

Taem we sun i draon
Tuska no stap pleis ia
Afta kava go daon
kava mi likum yu
Tuska mi likum yu
Naoia mifala go wan wan
Tankio olgeta tumas
Tankio ol mamma mo pappa mo bigfala jif
mo....(more random thank you's)
Mangaliliu mi likum yu
Mangaliliu mi likum yu
This was our string band song that we performed for our training village. They really enjoyed it, and have since requested many encores.
Emu and me

made for walking?

I think therefore I am
I think I am a man with wimpy feet.
my foot hurts.
It hurts because it is swollen.
It's swollen because it's infected.
It's infected because my feet are weak.
Man Vanuatu has tough feet.
Wimpy eats hamburgers.
I do not.


As i sit on the rim of Yasur overlooking a seemingly prehistoric panorama of black palm, coconut, Banyan, and ash plain, with my legs dangling vulnerably into the smokey nether-region of the active crater before me, I find myself thinking how incredibly fitting it would be if I suddenly heard a loud roar and then saw T-rex rounding the bend of the next mountain over with his little midget arms fidgeting and his mouth watering as he eyeballed me sitting next to the oven. And then I find myself thinking, as I dodge a red hot pyroclastic fireball the size of a VW bug, "damn! This is really cool! I'm sitting ontop of an active volcanoe right now!" And then, "ow! where'd my arm go?!"
Yasur volcanoe is located on Tanna island. Tanna island is the place that i just came back from a 4 day in-service training. Tanna island, aka, the place where you drink only chewed kava, and the nakamals (where they prepare said kava) are inside Nabanga trees (Ewok style!); the place where during custom dances the dancers stomp so hard that it literally feels like an earthquake if you're within viewing distance of the dance; the place where shoes don't exist because the ground everywhere is nothing more than soft volcanic ash from years and years of constant fallout. It's a pretty special place as you can tell.
The workshop was on slope stability, and we had a full day of practical hands-on trail maintenance work, which was cool because I finally got to get my hands dirty(in the working sense), and I was deemed trail guru after the other participants learned of my prior experience and then saw my biotechnical engineering wizardry...that's water bar for short. Whether or not this title was deserved is up for debate, but I can safely say that my knowledge was at least at the top of the barrel...i was definately above grasshopper. I don't know, a nice feeling when you find yourself habitually second guessing yourself every other day due to unfamiliar territory and poor communication.
Anyway, it was a great workshop. I learned some good stuff, I got a free trip to a sweet island, all of us volunteers had our host country counterparts (who will be are site "work buddies" and will assist each of us with future workshops) there with us to learn too, I was taught how to make a sand drawing of a pigeon (here, a pigeon is any bird), and I got to snowboard down a volcanoe! Shaun, Clay, Muth, Dan' got some catchin' up to do. Snow and Sand are one thing, but ash is somethin' else. It tastes much more bitter.
Now I'm sitting in Vila waiting to go to site. I got off the plane thursday afternoon with my feet running, ready to run around like a chicken with its head cut off to finish up all the shopping/networking that I failed to accomplish the week after swearing in. But, instead I came to find out that my house still isn't finished in Bwatnapni, so I've got to wait smol. Now, I'm either leaving next thursday or wednesday, or tuesday...or maybe monday? I really have no idea. I actually think that now (saturday) my house should be done, but the Peace Corps staff who I negotiate with in regards to traveling likes to forget everything that I tell him or request of him, so I am in the dark. It's okay though, today I bought a sweet shovel.
I hope you are all well. I'll have computer access until I leave next week, so if you want immediate response write me now!
lukim yu,

Thursday, June 02, 2005

blog attempt

this is a practice