It never ceases to amaze me how creative children can be. They may not have remote control cars or even matchbox cars to play with but they will find a way to create their own toys. Old bottles, discarded string, bits of wood and four large seeds can become functioning racecars. These boys were happy to show off their creations.
Lalu and I had an adventure going down to a nearby village because she wanted to show me what a pulo tree was (more about that adventure later). The pulo tree is covered with fuzzy red pods containing seeds that can be used as face and body paint. The seeds use to be used to paint “bilas” (decoration- both verb and noun) on the skin during traditional singsings or other celebrations. This shows up beautifully on their black skin but just gives me a red-tinged jaundice. Anyway- Lalu and I brought back a branch of this tree to Kapawa in order to show Steve and whoever else wanted to see it. When I got back, I sat down below my house and just storied with the women who were around. Their children were all playing in and around the classroom and some of them were very curious what this red fuzzy plant was (it doesn’t grow in Kapawa so the little ones had never seen it). I broke open a couple of pods and showed them that it could be used to paint their skin- then after convincing them that it was not edible, I went back to talking with the mothers. I watched out of the corner of my eye as these young girls proceeded to paint their finger and toe nails with the seeds. Then one of the older girls painted each of their faces. It was very cute to watch these beautiful little girls bilas themselves and each other.
Before I left for Kapawa, I was praying for a friend- someone who I could talk to and spend time with while I was out in the village. Let me introduce my friend Lalu. Lalu is 19 and the second child in a family of four. She has an older brother named Max (the guy holding the bee hive), a little sister named Kiu and a younger brother who they call Denge. Lalu is very sincere and has a natural gift of patience. She is a patient language teacher and a very patient trail guide. I look forward to spending time with Lalu again when I am back out in the village in May.
One Sunday she met me at the bottom of my stairs and asked if I wanted to visit the Kunai which is a grassy hill where the cows tend to hang-out and graze. It’s only a short walk but of course, down a steep ravine and then back up again. However, it was worth the walk. The view from the top of the hill was spectacular (this picture does not do it justice) and it was great to send some time with the girls. Lalu and her cousin Lizeni are showing me the watermelon that Lalu had bought at the market the day. As we ate slices of watermelon, I told them stories about seed spitting contests and watermelon eating contests in the US. They thought it was pretty funny that we don’t save the seeds to plant again and that we would give a prize to someone just because they could eat fast. Then we watched the clouds roll in and cover the hill. This picture is me standing close to the same spot but a half an hour later (wearing yet another pair of super stylish culottes;-).
We see the world as we are, not necessarily as it is. – Mark Ambrose
Sitting in the STEP course, we were shown a picture of a pig and asked what we associated with it. The Americans and Canadians assisting with the course responded- farm, bacon, Babe the movie. However, the Papua New Guineans responded- brideprice, compensation, money/wealth, food/fat and markets.
While I was in the village I would often take a walk and end up visiting with Lucy (little Adoniya’s mother) in her haus kuk. One morning she was boiling a very full pot of food and she told me it was for her pig. I was pleasantly surprised because many nationals just let their pigs forage for food. A few days later I visited again and once more she was boiling kaikai bilong pik (food for the pig). It seemed to me that this pig was living the good life- a shelter over its head and a semi-consistent supply of food. A few days before we left, I went for a walk again and visited Lucy. I noticed the pot boiling away over the fire and just assumed that it was for the pig. After being asked if ate pig, I noticed the distinct smell of cooked pig wafting through the haus kuk. The boiling pot wasn’t food for the pig, it was the pig. Evidently Lucy had decided the night before to butcher it because she felt like eating meat. It smelled pretty good so I accepted the offer of a piece of meat and some kaukau. While I enjoyed my food I got to observe once more how Papua New Guineans don’t waste anything. Children happily ate pieces of pig- skin, fat and all. Adults gnawed on the backbone until there was no trace of meat left. And the dogs lapped away at coconut shells filled with the soupy drippings and carried away the remaining bones. As I observed the scene I noticed an addition to the pig jaw bones that were lined up on their wall- the jaw of a pig who just a few days earlier was living the good life.
People love getting their pictures taken, especially now that we have digital cameras and they can see the picture right away on the screen. I guess in a place without many mirrors, seeing your face is a novelty. These women asked me to get Debbie to take a picture of them with me. It took a few minutes to line up in a way that satisfied them and I was happy to end up in the middle holding little Ella. My favorite part of this picture is the little boy at the right who is wearing one oversized flipflop. Although most people don’t wear shoes, it is not unusual to see kids or even adults wearing only one shoe. Shoes are expensive so if one breaks, they don’t throw out the one that didn’t break. They continue to wear it until it completely falls apart.
Isn’t he precious? Adoniya (the Tok Pisin for Adonijah) was named after the Biblical King. He is Bomes and Lucy’s 4th child. Bomes is Steve’s co-translator and their family has been and continues to be a blessing to the McEvoys in many ways. Lucy was one of Debbie’s first friends when they first came out to the village, Lucy is easy to talk to and very smart. I look forward to spending more time getting to know Lucy and Bomes when we go back out to the village.
While I was cleaning my room in the village and preparing to move in, I heard a loud buzzing coming from one corner. I told Steve and after further investigation he uncovered this large hive in the wall where my bed is now located. As soothing as the hum of a bee hive can be, I am very glad that the wall was opened and the hive was removed. Max took the hive away and i’m not sure what he did with it. I also got to learn that Steve’s brother and Dad have a business taking care of honey bees. Maybe someday Steve will have his own honey bees in the village, but I hope they will be housed someplace other than my walls.