Saturday, November 24, 2012

More on Pulawat

Where do I start? I'm on information overload. Ok, I'll start with where I left off and
try not to skip around too much.

It turns out Joey had a change of attitude when we showed up to fix his boat. He was very grateful and well, just a different person. We also gained a little more insight on what appears to be a rivalry here on the island. I'm making some leaps here to fill in some gaps in the story but Joey told us that his family and ancestors own tons of land (relatively speaking) here on the island (he actually gestured to the whole island). Apparently, way back when, there were some "bad guys" here. They would kidnap the women, eat other people's food, and well, just weren't very nice. So Joey's ancestors got a group of men together - "army" - and snuck up on the bad guys and killed them all (as well as their families) so they wouldn't have that gene pool to worry about. And so it is, that he owns the land now. As for the mayor....well, I think it's a case of traditional meets new ways and they don't know yet how to live together. The idea of a mayor is fairly new here and typically, on the islands we've been to, you don't have a mayor and a chief. So they have a bit of figuring out to do. It seems civil enough though...we're spreading the love to both villages and so far, it's working out for us.

Andy putting a fiberglass patch on their boat.  Lots of
Andy has spent a couple of days fixing Joey's boat and I think he's about done. I made them some ahi poke this morning with one of the tuna's we caught and the ladies really liked that (the sauce in particular). We've received 6 coconuts, a stalk of bananas, and two coconut crabs(actually, Andy just pulled up and it turns out they want to sell them to us for $15...I don't think coconut crabs tonight). I also had the opportunity to buy one of the handmade lava lava's here(and I did). They strip the "skin" from the trees and they take part of the leaves and roots and whatever else and pound them to make dye. Then they weave these elaborate fabrics - elaborate in the sense that this is all made out of a tree and done by hand and it turns out to be a bona fide fabric - that they use for skirts or sell for wall hangings or what have you. It's beginning to be a dying art (ha ha, I just reread this and got my own joke), so my guess is they're becoming more scarce. I'm glad to get the opportunity to actually purchase one. I'm hoping I can catch them making one before we leave and get some pictures. Overall, my opinion on the gimme gimme attitude hasn't changed (see the incident on the coconut crabs after spending 2 days of hard work and at least $100 of materials and gifts), but I'm growing to like the individuals.

While Andy was working and I was socializing, Jake was playing with the kids in the water. They had a funny little game(and I'm sorry to say my overprotecting nature didn't really allow Jake to actively participate - he was more of an instigator or spectator). They took a piece of fabric and wet it. Then they would put it over their head and crouch down in the water and float on their backs, making a bubble of sorts over their faces and bodies. It looks like some sort of floating corpse. I could see all kinds of wrongs happening there and I wasn't paying 100%attention, so rather than have my own corpse to take home, I just encouraged Jake to splash around with them :). He seemed fine with that. The other game they were playing was for one kid to hold a big rock and the others try to jump on him to get it from him. A tug of war, hold your head under the water until you give it up type of game. I pretended not to notice whether Jake was playing or not. It's hard to encourage him to play and then to tell him he can't play... He's learning "good judgment" and "common sense."

I did learn something new today...a man's lava lava here in Micronesia is known as a mungca, with the enunciation on the "ca." I learned how to say bye (twice since we've been here) but for some reason it isn't sticking...I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Everyone watching us talk to the principal
when we were giving our supplies.
Joey is a teacher at the local school, so he sent a kid to show us the way and we gave our usual school supplies of paper, pencils, sharpeners, crayons, dictionaries and flash cards. What really needs to happen is for someone to just spend a few hundred bucks and load up on all that stuff for the whole school for a year. We can't carry that much on our boat and I'm not sure our budget could handle it for each island, but when we worked and had jobs, it wouldn't have been a drop in the bucket. I wonder what would happen if everyone did something like that for the local inner-city school (or any needy school) in the U.S.? I'm not turning into a softy here, but it's so amazing how much we have compared to these people. We are considered living "without" by so many of our friends and family. After all, we live in a small confined space, no dishwasher, washing machine, toaster, coffee maker, etc. all the comforts of home. But my gosh, we roll up in here and we might as well be Bill Gates or Oprah for all they know. These kids come on the boat and they just stare. Literally sit and stare at you and your stuff for hours. They live in tin sheds or shantys made out of pandanas leaves. They sleep on woven mats on top of layers of palm leaves. They have no running water and no electricity. Their clothes (if they're wearing any) are old and tattered. Thanksgiving was a good time to roll up in here. It brings things into perspective.
This is the school here in Pulawat...
Jake and I at a little shrine we found.  They
have many of these around here, much like in Mexico.

There is tons more to tell but I think I'm going to spread it out over the next few days. Maybe separate the info between the two villages... There's so much to take in, I just want to share it all. So stay tuned for more on canoes, bare breasted women, and our invitation to eat taro.

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1 comment:

The Homesteader's Wife said...

Monica, there is tons of cheapo school stuff/supplies here in MD at the Dollar Store, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. I could mail you guys some if you want (as a personal contribution to the people you're trying to help out, no money required on your part). If so, send me a snail-mail address to:

I've been reading your blog to Jeremy and he was very surprised to hear the kids in the islands don't have a lot of school supplies. He said, "We have lots of that stuff all over the place here, Mom, can we send some to Andy and Monica to give out to the kids?" Out of the mouths of babes! Anyhow, we'd love to send some supplies to help "the cause."

Becky (and Toddy & Jeremy, too).

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