Wokabaot wik has arrived! 5 of us trainees were sent to the island of Espiritu Santo ( Santo for short) to discover the place we will call home for the next 2 years. Our first few days were spent in Luganville. After we all went to our individual villages (sites).
I would like to share a story from our site visit. I would consider the adventure I am about to describe as a Type 2 fun situation.
The Three Types of Fun
- The kind you completely enjoy. You enjoy the time you are doing an activity and looking back on it.
- The kind that sucks when you are doing it but when looking back you see the value and fun/humor in it. You may or may not wish to do it again.
- The kind that completely sucks and at some points were scary and/or very dangerous. It makes for one hell of a story but you’d never want to go through it again.
It all began with a simple walk to explore the beach not too far from our site. Our host mama told us “turn left on the dirt road after you cross over the river and just keep going left until you reach the water”.
Getting to the ocean was easy and self explanatory. It did come with a lot of mud and a face to face encounter with a cow I didn’t notice standing on the side of the trail, but all was good. The beach was beautiful and was my first encounter with black sand. We could see plenty islands out in front of us. The river we crossed to get there ended by coming down into the ocean. Crossing over where the two met felt strange, but even then, everything was smooth sailing.
There was a second (bigger) river further down the shore so we walked a ways and met some locals. Marc asked if it was ok to swim in the water and they said yes. When asked if there were sharks, they also responded yes but stated it was fine. As long as we weren’t swimming in the waters of Tanoga ( one of the islands within our sight), where sharks were infamous, we were fine. It is still undetermined if we will be swimming here…
We reached the bigger river and saw a grandma and her grandson fishing. When asked if we could follow the river bank all the way to the road we were told yes. The little boy would lead the way. He took us up the hill and we walked through a very cool village. It appeared very bush. When we got to the end of the village he looped around and starting taking us back down again. We were confused. He stopped at his house and there we met his mom, siblings and great great grandmother. After chatting for a bit we went as a group back down to the big river. Marc swam with the kids and we continued our conversations of trying to clarify the situation of sharks in the area..
The mom told us that we could just take the trail the kids walk every day to school (our site) instead of going all the way back the way we came. She also warned that it would be getting dark soon… Marc continued swimming with the kids for a little more time and we continued back up the hill towards the village for the second time with our posse of locals. Before we got to the trail we were shown a lemongrass plant and given one to plant, as well as some leaves for tea. We were also given some grapefruits and a version of oranges that are the size of grapefruits. With arms full of produce, and our trusty little boy guide we started up the trail into the bush to get back to the main road, which would lead us to our house.
It started raining a small amount and the mosquitoes were already out in full force (I am no longer convinced bug spray does any good…). The mom told the little boy to take us to a certain point and come back home because it was already starting to get dark.. Both mother and son said to follow the trail, it was a straight walk towards the school. He took us a little way and said just follow the trail. Do we have to take any turns, we asked. He said no, just follow it straight… he went home and we walked for about 5 minutes before the first fork occurred… we determined to just stay straight…. about 10-15 minutes further the trail went into 2 very distinct paths. At this point, it was dusk. The first path we tried was straight up into the bush. Weird sounds were coming from the distance.. tempers were beginning to show and I was obviously angry that we didn’t leave the first time the mom had told us to. We grumbled at each other all the way down to the fork and tried the second way to no avail. At this point, we were full on arguing and it was basically dark. We decided to just go back the original way no matter how far away it was at this point.
Before we got back to the village we encountered another local who was walking with 2 younger childeren. We told her our saga and she suggested we follow her and once she dropped off the younger of the 2 childeren she would walk us the rest of the way to the school. At this point, it was pitch black and now raining. She took a left on a trail that was barely noticeable and continued for about 15 -20 minutes before reaching her village to drop off her youngest sibling. We met her grandmother, who insisted on giving us papaya straight from the tree despite the rain, the killer mosquitoes, or the fact it was pitch black. It was a very nice gesture, so Marc took it with his non-mosquito killing hand and we continued on our way with our newest guide. We continued walking through the mud and got to a hill with thick bush on the side of the trail. The next thing I know I have a lizard crawling in my armpit! I had 2 large grapefruit size fruits in the arm where the lizard was and the lemongrass leaves/plant and phone(being used as a flashlight) in the other. I threw both my arms up in surprise ( of course making some crazy sounds) and dropped everything. Since we were on a hill all the fruit rolled down and I was not about to chase it. I did manage to save the lemongrass. Thirty to 45 minutes later we finally arrived to the main road with our house right across the road. We were bite up by mosquitos, muddy, and worried our host mama was going to be sending a search party for her brand new volunteers. Finally, we made it home sweet home. Mama wasn’t mad, we were ok, had made about 10 new friends and still had that precious papaya.
If any of my future students are late for class I will not be giving them grief for it, but rather remembering and laughing at the first time I walked the road to school.