A French Man!?

The past couple of days a few exciting things have happened. Ok maybe exciting isn’t quite the right word but I can assure you that I cherish the dull moments around here because they are few and far between. A few days ago an older girl was bit by a death adder. For various reasons they haven’t taken her to the clinic at Bosavi and so we sent some ace bandages down to Salosaka so they could at least bandage her leg well. I wouldn’t say that i’m really afraid of snakes but i’m not extremely fond of them either. And the death adder, just in it’s name is freighting enough that I have no desire to see one up close and personal. Hopefully they will stay out of the village and off the paths I will be traversing here. Yesterday I spent the morning in the literacy office and had little visitors at one point. They wanted me to read some of the stories to them so I sat reading for awhile while a little one, Alibia, kept crawling around on me playing with a pen instead of listening. At one point I stopped reading because Alibia had stuck his little pointer finger up my nose. It surprised me more than anything so I assured him that my nose works just like his and his parents, then I continued to read.
I’m almost done organizing all the Onobasulu books into a handy spread sheet. Over the years, the amount of books that have been produced is quite impressive. Currently there are 180 titles, not including scripture and I still have a few more stories that need to be checked and pictures drawn but they will just add to that number. If I think about all the English books in the world 180 doesn’t seem that impressive but in comparison to some languages in PNG where there are no tokples (vernacular) materials, the number is actually quite remarkable. The task of sorting books is simply the precursor to curriculum work because these books are the foundation and building blocks that will make up a good, useable, relevant Onobasulu curriculum.
Later yesterday afternoon I went outside to talk to some ladies and to check the news on the radio from a plane that is supposedly bringing co-workers back tomorrow. We were just standing around talking when I heard “hagulo sabe!” (A white person is coming!). I thought this was strange because we hear ‘hele sabe’ (the rain is coming) or ‘sopa sabe’ (a helicopter is coming) or ‘kasu sabe’ (a plane is coming) quite often. And I do hear ‘hagulo sabe’ when i’m walking towards people sometimes but not when i’m standing in the middle of a group and Beverly was still in the house. So I was just as curious as the rest of them, who was this ‘hagulo’? I had Segea in my arms as we all walked around the church to where this person was coming up the middle of the village. It was a white man with a backpack coming along surrounded by Onobasulu men and a couple others who I didn’t recognize. Little Liz then took my hand and started running up the path towards them. I was just very confused because we hadn’t heard a helicopter or plane so how did this man get here and why was he here? Anyway I stood there quietly with some of the other women watching the parade come through. This man had a PNG guide with him who shook the men’s hands who had come out to greet them and then he saw me and because i’m white, came down to shake my hand too. I stood there with Segea burying his head into my shoulder as this PNG man explained to me that he had walked from Tari with this man and they were to spend the night here before continuing on to Bosavi in the morning. So I looked at this white man, who was obviously very tired and muddy, asked where he was from, said welcome to Walagu and that was it. He then followed his guide down the path to the house where he would stay and I got to listen to the excited chatter of all the women who didn’t follow the men’s group. I explained to them that he was from France and they speak another language there called French. And that France is a long way from my home but it’s close to Holland. The other woman who works here part-time is from Holland so that helped them at least have some perspective.
We then all trooped off through the village down to the basketball court. It was very strange to see the excitement that comes from another white person being around, basically confirming that we are old news. I kind of wonder what the people told the French man about the white women here. I’m sure it was just as surprising to him to see me standing in a cluster of PNG women with a child, obviously not my own, on my hip.
I can whole-heartedly say that I do not envy his choice of ways to see PNG. I am very happy just working and living in Walagu and do not need to tramp from Tari down to Bosavi in order to fulfill my sense of adventure. But to each his own, I wish him well and I hope he had a lovely stay in Walagu.

3 thoughts on “A French Man!?

  1. Nice blog.

    I thought I did something drastic, crazy and life changing, but it is hard for me to imagine moving to PNG and living in a village.

    It sounds amazing though. I’m sure that’s an experience of two lifetimes!

  2. Dear Joy: Maybe you need a small globe whereby you could point to France on the globe…. and other places like California.
    Best wishes from Bob at Fair Oaks, CA

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