Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vate Electric and Tawi Sam

Nakamals Visited
Started out at Reynolds Nakamal and ended at Ronnies

Kava Kwaliti
Ronnies is good for the size of the shells they serve up, but it's not the strongest.  The kava at Reynolds is good, the last stall if you follow the line from left to right in the back row.  I am a regular for her stall.  I here's a picture of her serving it up:

I treated the dudes from Vate Electric who came and fixed my wiring today for a few shells at Reynolds.  Ian (June from the National Library's husband) who is man Makira, Damien, and one other guy whose name I cannot seem to remember right now.  I got a text from Josue that he was drinking kava with my Tawi, Sam Dan, at Ronnies, so I hopped in the Vate truck and headed over to Ronnies to buy them their last shell and then story with Sam.

Amusing Observations
Supposedly, work is finished at 5 for the boys at Vate, and they have to go park their company truck at the workshop.  But we drank kava from 4 to 6, so...I'm just sayin...why make the rule, then?

Mi Harem Se:
I gat wan fatfat polynesian man we i peintem tufala eyebrows blong hem mo hemi stap pem ol boe 5000 vatu blong mekem ass blong hem i so...

Here's a real Mi Harem Se from the Daily Post archives:
"Mi harem se a certain middle aged long term resident and respectable CEO of a company in Vila has let slip he was once a cocaine addicted male whore in his younger days where rich older women paid him US$100 an hour to perform sexual tricks with cocaine, chocolate finger biscuits and chocolate balls in London, California and Hawaii that made people he told choke on their kava. RESPECT!! Silip!"


Death, magic, and more violence against women

Nakamal Visited
White Gate in Freshwater Park

Kava Kwaliti
I am finding that when Jimmy makes kava for sale here it's not the best, but then again it's mostly free for me so no complaints.  It's always clean, it's only one kind/species of kava, and it all comes from the same area on Pentecost, so those are three bonuses.

Brian and Malcolm for the most part.  Chief Willie Virasulu (Pete's papa) was there again too, but wasn't up for a story.

Amusing Observations
A man had died on Pentecost 10 days earlier.  On the island, when a man dies the whole family/community feasts for 100 days, non-stop.  In Port Vila, because everything is expensive here, they feast for only 10 days.  I guess when Walter Lini died the people of Pentecost feasted for 1,000 days.

A crowd gathered at the park when a fight broke out between a man and his wife.  Nobody could go break it up though, because they don't have the right to do so, traditionally.  A woman belongs to a man (so long as they are married and she's been properly paid for), and so stopping a man from beating up his wife would be like stopping a man from feeding his pigs or cutting his grass.  It lasted for a good 5 minutes though.

I found out how to get one kind of black magic, and all I need is a black cat, a biscuit tin, a fire, a mirror, and a good 3-4 hours.  I probably shouldn't write about it in too much detail, but I will say that if it works you have the ability to walk through concrete walls, steal things without anyone noticing you, creep women and leave no evidence, etc.  Heeeeere pussy pussy pussy pussy...

Friday Night Nakamal Crawl

Nakamals Visited
Started out at Chiefs Nakamal for a couple shells, then to 24 Haoa for a few, over to Islanders for a few, and back to 24 Haoa, ended at Green Lite.

Kava Kwaliti
The first bucket at Chiefs=always strong, and I started off with a 150 shell.  24 Haoa was okay at Fillamon's stall, then that ran out.  Went to Islanders to hear the live stringband playing for the Seaside futsol team fundraisor and the kava had turned.  Back to 24 Haoa at the Tongoa stall and it was good.  Green Lite to finish, didn't go down so easy.  9 shells.

I was joined at Chiefs by Ralph, Joel, and Francis.  At 24 Haoa I was with Job, met up with Uncle Frank at Islanders and went back with him to meet up with Uncle Joe at 24 Haoa again.  Last one with Job at Green Lite.

Amusing Observations
Chiefs has great kava but is shit for a nakamal, so it's strange seeing everyone there dressed up nice and on their best behavior all the time.  I left a bottle of wine in my SAIS bag at 24 Haoa and when I went back for it, Uncle Joe told me some random bus driver drove off with it, but he was just playin.  When he found out it was wine in the bag, he said he would have taken it himself had he known.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Time to re-org

Got a tip from an anonymous friend (not so much, it was Mischere Kawas, RPCV and master of human language) that I should break this up into sections to make it more enjoyable to read (meaning, allow people to read what they want to read and skip the rest).

So from now on, there will be sections for:

Nakamals Visited
Kava Quality
Amusing Observation

I will leave room, of course, for random sections, such as "Kava In The News", "Who Did What Where Now?", and "Yu Save Finis", and toss in photos and video/audio when appropriate.

Trial begins tomorrow...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Uncle Frank

Met an Uncle from the Tahisa nakamal in Tahi at 24 Haoa last night.  He has been in Vila since 1960-something, and is a heavy drinker.  But doesn't touch kava.  And he used a lot of English phrases when he spoke to me.  Ni-Vans that do that remind me of this one student at SAIS who would speak French with us outside the classroom because she wanted to practice, but deep inside I'm pretty sure she wanted other people to hear her speak French.  Or this one Aussie d-bag I met once at a nakamal in Vila in 2007 who refused to speak English to us, so we had to have an awkward interaction in Bislama even though there were no ni-Vans around to include in the conversation.

I think 24 Haoa needs better management, but they have a lot going for them.  The kava is good, there are only two stalls to choose from so people don't get too confused, the washem-mouth is cooked by Paama mamas (which is a bonus for everyone, trust me), and they are in a good location.  They don't try to entertain customers with loud video (like Labor, Islanders, Green Lite, and a couple others) which I appreciate.  And they have their own grinder, but they could use someone to better orchestrate when the kava is actually made.  It's embarrassing that they are known as "24 Haoa" but run out of kava frequently and customers have to wait 20-30 minutes for more to come.  Not cool.  If the two stalls rotated more efficiently between buckets I think the whole problem could be avoided.

I was talking to Noe the other day about how I would like to manage a kava bar here in Vila somewhere.  If it was a full-time gig I think I could do a good job.  Still just a dream though.  He just opened one up in Freshwater 5 that only serves Malo Malo, so I'm going to go check that out the next time the ship comes in with more kava.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stein Time

I ran into David Stein, an old friend and former PCV, last week and we made a plan to drink a shell.  Last night I was to meet him at SHEFA nakamal at 6.  I went early, and ended up meeting two VMF officers from Paama and storied with them for an hour or so.  The kava was finished before David got there, so we moved to Labor.

David is doing really well, he's very glad to have his Malakula family living with him here and to have a small nephew to take care of.  His business, selling solar and other forms of alternative energy to outer islands, is growing and becoming popular.  I know that my uncle Isaah, Amy's dad, is selling the solar lanterns that David's company supplies.  David also purchased/leased some land which he will leave to his family here.

We ate at the noodle place across from where I used to live across from VNPF and had a good story session.  One good one of his: he was reapplying for his residency visa, and he couldn't figure out what color hair he has or what his occupation was.  "I know I go to work every day, and I know I enjoy what I do, but I couldn't figure out what to say my occupation was."  He ended up writing down "consultant".  He asked other people what color his hair was, but couldn't get consensus: red, white, yellow, and blond were some of the responses.  He went with "reddish".  He has been living and working in Vanuatu for 14 years now, and is not a citizen.  Vanuatu does not allow dual citizenship, and since his mother is still living in the US and since he still travels from time to time, it's easier for him to continue on as a resident.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So Far


My sister Doroka was in need for school fees to repeat year 12, so Mama Elizabeth organized a small fundraiser to help pay for it.  Apeslom came by the house and we walked over to Freshwater around 4:30 or 5.  Found Colin John and followed him to his house where he was in charge of making the kava for the fundraiser.  All his brothers were there, Tony, Charlie, and Phillip.  A bunch of family from Nou village also showed up, including my small Papa John.

When the bucket was dry, Colin, Apes and I went to the park with some Tusker and kale-d with some slow reggae.  My other brother Colin (Reed) called up and said he wouldn't be able to make it down, so Apes and I decided it would be a good idea to hike up to Olen White Wood at midnight drunk on kava and beer.  I snaked it the whole way up, Apes hurled a couple times, and we finally made it.  I laid down by the rain tank in the church yard until the ground stopped spinning.  Couldn't manage to eat anything.

Kaison stopped by to bring me home, but Apes stayed the night at Colin's.  Gotta love fundraisers.

Mi Krae From Mama

I had a plan for Friday to meet up with Pakoa at the Department of Health and head to Islanders Nakamal.  I had heard the night before, though, that Mama Lydiano had passed away.  So I purchased rice and calico and decided I would drink kava with Pakoa and then go cry for mama at her house in Seaside.

Islanders is pretty decent at its new location.  Lots of space, it's clean, and they have good food to wash the stink of kava from your breath.  That said, the places to sit suck (speaking from a crippled point-of-view anyway) and they are constantly playing something not so quietly on a little television on their counter which can be irritating.  Pakoa I knew from my days on the CODEX committee in 2007 and he is a very interesting guy.  Man Tongoa, started out wanting to go into agriculture but then his community decided he should go into health, since the Department was actively recruiting from the islands and he was the only one in his community who was educated enough to join.  He did his training in Fiji and New Caledonia for 3 or 4 years before starting out in the Department in Port Vila.  He was one of the civil servants to strike in 19?? (80 something?) and then did a series of small health projects with Save the Children and a couple of other organizations.  Now he is back in the government working on environmental health, vector born disease stuff, and whatever else they throw on his pile of work to do.  He's always smiling, great sense of humor, always relaxed.

I headed down to Mama's family's house in Seaside to cry and give them the rice and stuff, but then found that all that crying drove my kava away.  So....back to 24 Haoa and met up with Apu Willie once again, where we talked about different leaves we eat on Paama.  Had to call a brother to find the name of one leaf that is the first eaten after a natural disaster on the island.  It's "feak" for those of you also wondering...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Apu Willie

I met with Apu Willie, man Luli, for kava last night at 24 Haoa.  He has been in Port Vila since 1968, worked for a while on fishing ships (has been to Philippines, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, and PNG), and stayed for some time in Noumea to learn construction.  He has been a builder ever since.  He said the earthquake last week was the strongest he has ever felt.  Unlike everyone else I've spoken with, he believes the Seabell hotel that cracked during the quake is still strong, just the plaster cracked, and even though it was built on reclaimed land the foundation is very very deep.  I've heard ex-pats say they wanted it to fall down because they see it as an eye sore.  I've never heard a ni-Vanuatu say they wanted it to fall...

A daylight view of 24 Haoa Nakamal:

The kava at 24 Haoa ran out at like 9, which is funny since it has a reputation for having kava available until 8 in the morning.  We went up to Seaside Green Light for a few more shells and his wife met up with us.  She is woman Lironessa and works as the house girl for David Stein, a former PCV who started a business in Port Vila selling solar and other alternative energy sources to people on the outer islands.  She told me the news that one of my mothers and former Home Care trainer, Lydiano Dick, passed away on Sunday.  That was a little bit of a shock for me, she was not old, in her late 50s maybe.  Everyone things that when she got remarried to man Malakula (her first husband died), that's what caused her to pass away.  I guess this guy had two wives before her, and both of them died as well within a few years of getting married.  And a former student of mine, Krissy, is getting married to one of their sons this October.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bringing the nakamal to you

Yesterday afternoon I was having a long discussion with Joel about land law in Vanuatu, and what his vision is for future land development in the country.  He's one of the most outspoken opponents to land lease, sub-division of land, and land survey in the country, and he manages the Land Desk at the Cultural Centre.  We started heading to the Chiefs Nakamal for a shell - a very natural thing, really, an unspoken agreement, we both were just walking toward the nambanga - and this young guy walked past.  Joel called out to him.  He didn't recognize his uncle at first, but then Joel introduced himself to him.  The boy, Joshua, is also man Aneityum, and is the biggest table tennis star in Vanuatu.  That's right, the ping-pong champion of the South Pacific joined us for a shell.

We met up with Jimmy, the former Curator for the National Museum, and decided to pitch in for a plastic of kava and drink it at the small nakamal at VKS so we could sit and enjoy the kava.  It was raining, and Chief's is now notorious for not having the greatest place to sit.  When we got back down to VKS, we met up with Noe, Francis, and Marcellin, started a small fire, found some coconut shells, and storied.

The VKS nakamal that night:

Topics last night covered: Vanuatu's corrupt justice system; Digicel's controversy in North Pentecost (I guess they started building a tower on taboo land); the World Bank's disturbing agenda; where the best (and only) ping pong table is in town (second floor of the MOK store in Namba 3 area, and it's free if anyone is interested); and a mini-arts festival in Southwest Bay Malakula.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A history lesson, and intercultural marriages.

I went to Reynolds nakamal last night to meet up with a friend of mine, Sarah, a former Peace Corps volunteer who married a man Tanna and now lives and works here in Port Vila with her family.  They have what I consider to be a healthy married life (healthy = there's some love going on there, non-abusive, respectful of one another, etc., a loose and general category really, I try not to judge anyone).  Before she came through, I sat and storied with Richard, the archaeologist from Aneityum.  He talked about the various theories of the origin of the ni-Vanuatu people.  One interesting thing he mentioned was about the people of mainland PNG, how they were the first to cultivate crops like 30,000 years ago.  I asked him how he bridges the gaps between older traditional beliefs about the origin of man, introduced Christian beliefs about the origin of man, and his own understanding of evidence-based archaeological history and human evolution.  He said that, basically, the bible is right, but they have the dates wrong.  He said that they have it right from Abraham to present time, but between Abraham and Adam and Eve they only have 1,000 years, and science has proven that the Earth is older than 4,000 years old.  As for traditional beliefs, he said they evolved through story since there are no written languages in this part of the world, and that explains the variety of stories on creation in the area.  

Mural outside Reynolds:

When Sarah came, she and Richard discussed some issues he is currently having in his own relationship.  He is struggling with a problem he has full ownership of, and Sarah offered advice and since they have know each other for a long time it seemed to me that he really respects her opinion.

When I left Reynolds, I went down to 24 Hoao (the name I found out for the Paama nakamal I've been going to in Seaside) and met up with another former PCVs ni-Vanuatu husband (so random, he doesn't even live close to that part of town and I've actually never hung out with him before last night) who then took me to Islanders namakal next door for another couple shells.  There have been more women PCVs that have married ni-Vanuatu men then men have married ni-Vanuatu women.  Sarah thinks it's probably cultural - if a man begins to friend a ni-Vanuatu woman here, there is much more pressure for him to take her as his wife.  That's probably the best explanation of the phenomenon I've heard.   I kind of imagine intercultural marriage as having twice the challenges and twice the rewards of intracultural marriage.  Just a thought.

Road to Reynolds:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Swing raon long evri ples...

Last night I went to Shefa Province nakamal and met up with the PCV that is finishing up at Vaum RTC in Tahi, Paama and her boyfriend and a group of young people that run a program where they take a yacht and deliver medical supplies to clinics on rural islands.  We talked about the island, and my brother Kaison showed up for a couple shells before having to get back to business.  He used to play football for the national squad, so he's traveled a bit in the region.  Now, he drives a bus for Le Meridian and has to pick up and drop off employees at all different times, and in between he services passengers to pay for gas since he only gets paid at the end of the month.  Last year he picked apples in New Zealand, which seems to be the new thing to do here for young guys.  Not sure if it's really for the money or if it's for the experience and exposure, but I think it's more the latter.  

When the kava was finished, I walked to the spitting wall nakamal behind VNPF and had a shell, and when I came out onto the main road again by Radio Vanuatu Kaison drove by and stopped to give me a ride home.  On the way though, he wanted to drop these two Indo-Fijian USP students off and they wanted to pay with 1000vt but he didn't have change, so I gave him my 500vt note so he could make change and told him that we will just stop some place for another shell to get change.  So we dropped someone off at Tebakor and stopped in at Shepards Studio, a place I used to go a long time back.  Then we hopped back in, drove back through town, stopped at Ah Pow so I could see Papa Lani (who handed me a hot loaf of bread and some gato), and then we went back to Shepards Studio for another shell.  We continued to service until around 10, stopped again at the spitting wall for another couple shells, and storied.  Kaison really doesn't even know Paamese that well, he understands and speaks the language from South Santo much better.  He doesn't even really know most of his family.  He's only spent maybe 1 year of his life on the island.  And he's 35, wife from Paama, and two kids - 7 and 3.  I think he'd be a great football coach.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Violence on a dark corner

So, I met up with my Tawi Jimmy from Tavie last night at Seaside Paama, and he told me a story.  I guess the day before, he was playing futsol with some guys at XFOL and was walking back to Seaside at around 7 or 8 p.m.  He was with maybe 4 other guys, a few girls, and a bunch of little kids.  They were walking past VNPF and this dude was calling for his sister, so he told him to back off and the guy took those as fightin words.  And in true Tanna style, the guy called all of his friends over with a whistle and like 10 man Tanna came from some dark corner over near New Look and started beating the living shit out of them.  The sister was getting her head slammed repeatedly into a table, some of the little kids were getting punched and kicked, and one of my Tawi's friends was on the ground calling out for his mama.  They finally were able to run to the police station, where they gave a statement, but the one that was beaten the worst started puking blood and had to be taken to the hospital and monitored over night.  So, Jimmy told me that they had already cut up some pipe and wire and were going to get a camion to take them (all the Paama youth from Seaside and Namba 3, and a big group of young Tongoa dudes) to this Tanna guys house and kill him and anyone who tried to stop them with stones and iron pipes and wire and machetes.  I casually suggested that violence may not be the best answer, but...I could totally understand why they were so angry.  I'll be interested to see if they actually go through with it.  I suspect they won't, because I think this sort of thing happens often.  Just last week I saw another fight involving man Tanna, with the same kind of group-on-one technique used, and nobody can really stop a fight like that.  Police just wait until they stop.  I mean, what are they gonna do without weapons?

The kava was good, had lelas cooked in true Paama-style (aka, lots of coconut milk used) for wasem maot.  It's not a great nakamal - no good places to sit and the nastiest toilet of any in the city - but I go there mainly for the Paama fix.  I feel fixed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It has always been about the kava...

It has.  I drink it every day.  I talk about drinking it all the time.  I think about it when I'm not drinking it or talking about drinking it - who will I drink with today, I wonder, and where will that first shell go down?

So I started writing a kava journal, to record the when/where/with whom of each evening and highlight the sometimes strange conversation topics or interesting unplanned events that go down, because every single moment in this country is an adventure.

Here are a few interesting backlogged entries from my kava journal beginning in early July.

10/07/2010 – Shefa Nakamal with my brothers Colin, Apeslom, and Kelep, and some dude named Andrew from Vutekai.  I used to go to Shefa a lot in 2007 as it is very close to where I used to live then.  It was the first time hanging out with Kelep in a long long time, he has a little baby now and is with a woman named Lolita from Liro.  We all had 3 shells of kava and then 3 Tuskers for kale.  Apes puked again, as he did two weeks before on the same night (from the same kava).  But unlike that night two weeks ago, I did not join in the yacking.  Since Colin likes to tell his story about beating up his girlfriend because he caught her drinking a beer so much, I asked them when it was okay to beat up a girl.  The example Apes gave was, let's say you wake up early in the morning to do some work in the garden, and you tell your woman that you want food to be ready for you when you get back because you know you'll be hungry, and when you come back there's no food ready and your woman is off chatting with a friend.  Then it's okay.  

11/07/2010 – Green Light Seaside and the BP Wharf nakamal, Tawian Aru picked me and Jack (the anthropologist) up and took us over to the wharf for kava.  Aru shared his twisted story about why he is now in town.  He and my brother Oko didn’t get along (Oko cut up his markings for the house he wanted to build on Paama) and he ended up leaving the island.  I remember when I was on Paama, he was really trying to assimilate the best he could.  I think there was resistance to him being there in general, because normally if a woman Paama takes a man from a different island/village, they go to the man’s place and not the other way around.  For some reason, Aru didn't want to make a family on Ambae.  Oko felt competition for land probably and reacted to that with force.  Also, Aru used to be with Oko’s cousin sister, and Esther was the house girl that he cheated on her with (and now has two pikinini with).  Now my brothers don't want me calling him Tawi anymore, and I suppose technically he isn't.  

12/07/2010 – Vanuatu Cultural Centre opened their Independence exhibition with speeches by the first President of Vanuatu in 1980, the DG of Internal Affairs, the MP for Port Vila (Ralph nomo), and the director of VKS Marcellin Ambong.  June headed the committee and also gave a speech.  Probably about 60 or 70 people turned up.  There was good kava from Pentecost provided, and a stringband performed an independence song.  Sael (man Vutekai) was guarding the kava during the speeches.  Prior to the start of the event, Noe, Richard and I went to Reynolds nakamal for a couple shells (the VKS thing didn’t start until 6 and we didn’t want to wait that long).  Richard is interesting, has the mindset of an activist.  He considers himself an archeologist even though he never went to university, simply because that’s what he is interested in and he took a course in it in year 13.  His views on politics were interesting, he knows a lot about politics in the entire region.  Guy wants a revolution.  He and Noe said Ralph may be launching a new party by the end of the year.

13/07/2010 – Hit up Shefa nakamal first with Matthew Kalotiti and another man Mangaliliu named Wari Jimmy, they were interested in the story of my fall in '07.  They left and Wotti’s brother Alfred came by with a cousin brother of his also named Wotti and we just got to know each other really.  Alfred works at TVL and has been trying to help with my internet installation.  Apeslom called from Sophie’s nakamal, so I left Shefa to meet him there.  He was with Papa Lani at Ah Pow bakery who sliced a fresh loaf for me and set the program for Friday night at Green Light nakamal in seaside.  Apeslom told me Sophie’s used to be ‘lucky’ for him in terms of getting laid.  He has changed a lot since, now a father and all.

14/07/2010 – Chiefs Nakamal with Francis, Jack, and Malcolm from VKS.  Stood up by Rebecca Iaken.  Had one shell for 150 vatu and it was strong.  Then two for 100 and three for 50.  Jack and I went down to Green Light in seaside for another two shells for 50.  It was his last kava before heading back to Melbourne.  He is an anthropologist from New Zealand who works mainly on Pentecost.  We talked about the network of anthropologists in Vanuatu, he said it’s strong and supportive and much larger than other countries in the Pacific.  Interest in working/studying in Vanuatu probably comes from the diversity factor as in PNG.

15/07/2010 – Went to a place over near VNPF with a giant "spitting wall" with KT and a PCV from SW Bay Malakula named Igor for two shells, then over to Sophie’s to meet up with Beks and her co-worker friends from Save the Children.  After a couple beers for kale, they wanted to go out to Club 21 but I skipped out.  Can’t hang.  Beks said Lensley, the father of her baby (or babies, but that's a complicated story) is coming back from the island tomorrow.  Interesting relationship she has.  Lensley's a cool dude, works at the Department of Education.  Man Ambae.

17/07/2010 – The white gate at Freshwater Park with Malcolm from VKS and his family.  It was his family's nakamal and all the kava comes from North Pentecost.  It was his treat, so I ended up drinking more than my fair share of around 7 or 8 shells.  The washem-mouth was not exciting in that area compared to the Seaside area, just pieces of cow tongue and baked taro, but the kava was good anyway.  While drinking, the SDA people held worship in the park with a loud speaker for like two hours, and people were shooting off fireworks.  It was the day of the horse races in Vila.  And Malcolm’s uncle, Brian, decided he liked me and wants to adopt me as his brother.  I explained I was already adopted on Paama but he didn’t seem to care.  We’ll see what happens there.  After kava I started walking home and ran into James from Nou village, Apenas’ brother, and his wife who were walking back from Colin John’s family fundraiser.  I called Colin up and ended up walking with them down to a store near the freshwater football field that was still selling beer and kale-d on the stoop until very late.  I was pretty messed up, but it was fun.  Got home and couldn’t find the power to cook something to eat.

19/07/2010 – Bamboo then Ronnies with Amy Chan, the PCV at Vaum RTC in Tahi.  She is my Tawi, since she calls my Uncle Isaah "papa".  Today was lil’ Jamie’s birthday on Paama so I passed a present along with Amy to take back to site (an Obama t-shirt and a little vanity license plate that says America/USA and his name, some goldfish crackers).  Told Amy stories about when I was on Paama: the chicken massacre; the pig story; the cyclone story; the charcoal story, and many more.  She really likes it there, which is good, but she’s concerned about the sustainability of the school after she leaves which is normal for a PCV.  She told me all about the school's trials and different projects they've started.  It's just great to know it's still going, even if it still doesn't feel sustainable.  It was started nearly 7 years ago!

20/07/2010 – Reynolds with KT, Beks, and Lensley.  12 stalls to choose from, which I think is ridiculous, but now the owner doesn’t even sell kava he just rents out the stalls at 1000vt/night.  There are other places doing this system to, so only one has to pay for the license to sell kava and the actual kava makers/sellers just pay rent.  Some dude got so drunk on kava that he fell to the ground and was shaking, knocking over chairs and tables and kicking people.  Gravel.  Ouch.  That lasted for about a half hour, before Lensley called a bus driver he knew to come and carry this guy home.  I went home and picked up some simboro on the way from greenlight seaside.  Tomorrow bakegen.

21/07/2010 – Red Light nakamal at Independence Park with Roger, Benuel, and Kevin from NSO.  I also ran into Aru Huntington and met his brother while there.  Kava from Ambae which explains why so many from Ambae there.  Ndui Ndui area.  Roger is from Malekula though, and he and I went festaem and storied.  He is fresh out of University at USP in Fiji where he majored in geography and demography.  He liked Suva a lot, and Nadi - likes it better than Vanuatu which I found surprising.  He wants to go for a Masters sometime, but rules of civil service are that you have to serve at least two years before you can go.  Benuel came and kept saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” over and over and laughing.  I didn’t get it.  Maybe just because it was in English.  Many Anglophones here think English is funny.  Explained the story of my fall again several times.  Took off around 9.

23/07/2010 – Fundraiser at Seaside Paama for James from Nou, drank with Jimmy from Tavie, Eskol from Nou, Colin John from Nou and his brother from a different mother from Epi Stanley.  String band played, the one that wrote Luli Village and Onak Vaoleli Village, they were practicing for the upcoming 30 July competition and they sound good.  Colin was telling me about the black magic going around the Freshwater area lately, one of his uncles hung himself and when they took him to the hospital the doctors said he had been dead for three days already.  They (sorcerers) kill a dude and then singsing (some kind of spell) and walk around as if they were him for a period of time, usually 3 or 5 days, and then the body turns up.  It’s always someone close that knows your schedule/routine.  Oh, and a pregnant lady and her 3-year-old son were murdered in Freshwater like last month, she was clubbed to death and her little boy was stabbed.  The kava was shitty at the fundraiser, so we went up to Green Light seaside for a couple shells and kale-d with a Tusker and this strange chick started following Jimmy.  Pretty sure she was a prostitute.  Jimmy seemed high toward the end of the night, but swore he wasn’t.  Don’t believe him.  All he wanted to talk about was how all the young guys get high all the time, but he doesn’t anymore.  Then later he said he only smokes after the sun goes down.  Stori i jenis finis…

24/07/2010 – Freshwater White Gate, nakamal blong ol man Pentecost.  Brian, Malcolm's uncle, "adopted" me as his brother today by grinding kava in the traditional fashion, using a coral stone and something blong coconas blong sevem I go long wanwan shell.  He doesn’t drink, never has.  Kava is woman.  He told me the custom story from North Pentecost about the origin of kava: there was a strong man, he killed and ate almost everyone, then his twin nephews killed him and his wife and buried them and kava grew where the wife was buried, and then they saw rats eating it and getting drunk and a light went off in their heads…this shit is good!  We should drink it!  But I was thinking, good thing they didn't see the rats eating human shit...

There was a blackout, lots of fireworks going off in that area and all over town for that matter as it’s close to Independence Day.  They let me know before I left that the Pentecost mafia is my protection now, and to feel free to come whenever.  This one guy from Tanna named Ialu is like the leader of the youth of Freshwater and he hung out for a while, told me to come visit him sometime and to use his name if ever I was in trouble.  Met Willie Virasulu, Pete’s dad from Leone in North Pentecost.  He talked a lot about Pete, said he heard Pete would come back this month to dig up some of his kava.  Talked about black magic.  Lots of ni-Vans in town are afraid of Paama because they think the sorcery there is the strongest.  I always thought it was strongest in Ambrym or Maewo, but that's not what they were saying tonight.

25/07/2010 – Wharf nakamal with Captain Kidley and some of his friends from the tugboat he now heads that goes to New Caledonia and back with crushed coral.  Before he got there though, met this guy named Takao from Vaoleli village, born in Santo, only been to Paama for a few months when he was 8 years old or so, about my age.  Ten years ago he moved to Vila, works as a chef at Flaming Bull.  There’s a nudie calendar hung up in the wharf nakamal.  A troupe of young women wearing tight clothing drove in and made a stir.  Kidley’s doing well, lost some weight claiming it was all thanks to a leaf Uncle Isaah made for him years ago, has three kids with his other younger wife in Santo now, wife number one lives in Mele village with Aman, his son.  He was going to take off to Santo for the Independence celebration, so glad I caught him.  His quote, “fasen blong fak olbaot I finis nao”.  Highly doubtful.

26/07/2010 – Stopped by the Red Light nakamal at Independence Park, nakamal blong ol man Ambae.  Went there to meet up with Aru but he didn’t show until late.  Benuel came, and shortly after there was a woman, I guess she’s the lawyer for maybe Westpak or something, maybe VNPF, and she totally bitched out this young dude that was at the store and told her little daughter to fuck off.  It was heated, he got up in her face and started screaming to scare her and it didn’t work, that lady is not afraid of anything.  The kava was good.  They kept cutting Orchy plastics to cover a lit candle, and it kept catching on fire.  But they kept trying anyway.  It’s colcol now, been wearing a sweatshirt to kava every night.

27/07/2010 – Mele village independence stalls with KT, Junior (Wyclef), Moli, and two Kiwis that were carrying around a bottle of wine.  The stage had this guy from Pango entertaining that night who is famous for some song he wrote about dead babies.  There was also a couple ladies dancing Tahiti style, and a comedy troupe.  The kids were digging it.  I like Mele a lot, it is the biggest village in Vanuatu with about 3,000 people.  Some dude that couldn’t have been older than 16 came up to me and asked me if I smoked weed.  He said his name was “fatso”, from Tanna.  Got some island kakae for $1 to take home, Junior and Moli (man Ambae) took me back home in Moli's bus.  

28/07/2010 – Parliament Park stalls with Alfred Lobu and Alan Simeon, string band competition night.  And the Independence celebration begins in Port Vila!  Tokosawia took first place and Torotua took second, with the boys from Seaside Paama taking third.  Alfred thinks its okay for men to cheat on women because women can forget easily, but it doesn’t work the other way around.  He kept hiding the “Smile” TVL logo on his shirt because for some reason it looks bad if you start drinking kava right after work (?) which I was not aware of. 

29/07/2010 – Parliament Park stall kava, stall 121 was Benuel’s kava bar with fresh stuff from Ambae, saw Sailas from Vaoleli for a bit, then met up with Colin Stephen at the stall for Maewo kava since there was good places to sit down.  He met up with a few of his friends who all wanted to go smoke weed, so he left me there and said he’d be back.  I hung out with Alfred and his uncle, drank a few more shells, had a couple Tuskers, then took off.  Colin called just as I was leaving, tried to guilt me into coming back but that didn’t work. Mare ming ta vare kei!

30/07/2010 – Independence Day!!  Drank kava with Apes and Colin at Parliament Park and then up at Reynolds and Konata Bulu, where we watched the fireworks while listening to the reggae from Saralana stage.  Met Apes’ little girl, Sera, and his woman from Tongoa.  And, the daughter from a mystery papa…about whom Apes doesn’t want to know anything.  Ditched Colin when rain crashed the celebration to hang with Neely at her place, played SkipBo and drank some Tusker, walked home.

1/08/2010 – Freshwater Park, White Gate nakamal with Brian and the gang from Pentecost.  He bought a new phone for 7000vt and it plays ‘clips’ including the Jamie Fox “We Are The World” video.  He has Ga Ga and Lucky Dube and Bob Marley songs on his phone.  Asked the nakamal owner's wife about the bandage on her leg, said that her husband stabbed her a couple years back with a knife and cut her Achilles tendon because she was having an affair with another dude.  Wheelchair for a long time, then crutches, still not good.  Her husband is deformed, with one very tiny arm, and he walks like he had polio.  They have four kids.  Gave Brian a DVD, something action related with Denzel Washington, he said he likes war documentaries.  Brian told me this awesome story of a white boy being shipwrecked and his father was dead or eaten on the ship and a dude from his area in North Pentecost raised him as his own.  Simmy (Jimmy) was his name.  I want to check that out at the Cultural Centre one of these days.

2/08/2010 – Seaside Paama with the men from Luli village who came do dance custom for the mini arts festival this week.  I watched them perform at Saralana field earlier this afternoon.  Missed out on the Independence Forum on trade with John Salong and Roy Mickey Joy, but I’ll hear about it later I’m sure. 

3/08/2010 – Freshwater Park White Gate with Brian’s Tawi James and some dude who was full of stories.  Talked a lot about the matrilineal system that North Pentecost is known for.  Turns out, even though the land is technically the property of women and is passed through them, when there’s a dispute about land it’s not the women arguing in the nakamal.  Basically, they don’t control the land even though it’s really theirs.  Bought a mat from the Lulep mamas who came from the island to sell.  It was woven by a former student of mine, Meriel, who has since had a son from a mystery dude and is with man Lulep now in the village.  Got a ride home from the nakamal from one of my brothers, Kaison.  I didn't know it was him until he stopped at a store to let a drunk passenger go buy more beer and we started to story.  I met him only once in 2005, shook his hand and that's it, so it's no surprise that we didn't recognize each other, but he was all about getting together and drinking a few shells sometime.

5/08/2010 – Reynolds nakamal, with a former student of mine Ham and his friend Fanu.  Got there, and this guy who says he's the PM of Tahiti was playing the uchaleli and singing in French.  Reynold gave him a red mat to shut him up, and apologized for what many drinking kava would find disturbing to their kava buzz, but the guy just kept playing.  Then I asked him about the Tahitian independence movement, if it had gone to referendum, and he was like, "you don't understand human rights like I do", and "I'm going to make sure all the white people leave, and all those opposed to independence leave", and "In my constitution, I will make sure people go to work on time and don't sleep too much"...as he chugged his Tusker.  Some guy was like, so basically you will be a dictator, and he was then trying to explain his way out of it by telling this ni-Vanuatu that he understands the history of Vanuatu better, which the ni-Van understandably took offense to.  One of those crazy nights.  Went home to try to look this guy up, but it turns out there is no PM of Tahiti.  Go figure. 

6/08/2010 – Fundraising at Seaside Presbyterian church for the Luli custom dancers.  Met up with Tawi Samson and his friend Toa from Eratap, and Collin Nepot.  The server was a young guy from Luli who knew me and every time I would buy a shell he would fill it all the way to the top regardless of how much I paid for.  It was strong, and it actually tasted like Paama kava which I haven't tasted in a long long time.  Me and Collin and a newfound papa named Terry from Tahindan drank Tusker at Green Light until like 11:30.  Former Speaker of Parliament Tawi Sam Dan was there but only for a little while.

7/08/2010 – Freshwater Park White Gate nakamal, stone ground kava, first ever boot and rally for me.  Drank two, puked, then went back for three more.  I couldn’t move or open my eyes after the first shell went down.  Brian didn't mix water with it at all.  Storian after the boot went from monkeys to evolution to belief in the Bible (which Brian does not, interestingly).  Lots of stuff.  Brian thinks ni-Vans are getting shorter on average.  I don't know if that's possible, but I respect his observation.

9/08/2010 – BP Wharf with Kelep and Captain Kidley.  Met up with Kelep and Lolita buying rice when I was walking out of the NSO, so Kelep and I put Lolita on a bus and made our way to the wharf where we met with Tawi Kidley and his crew from the tugboat.  KT and Alexia (PCVs) turned up a little later.  Talked to Kelep about what Papa Hapi said about me building a house on Paama, and he told me that his line has tons of land due to not having many boys.  Papa Hapi had no brothers, and neither does Kelep.  I proposed that the two of us make the joint investment and build a house we can both share.  He seemed to like the idea, but I told him to think about it more.  He ran the Round Island Relay and his team (VMF) came in third place behind two Tanna teams.  The Tanna teams ran barefoot.

10/08/2010 – Chiefs nakamal (always a great first bucket) with Marcellin, Francis, Joel, the dude at PIPP, a Nepali guy, and the Australian High Comm guy Jay at Finance.  Talked about the earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning that hit earlier at around 4:15.  I was in the group of a couple thousand people in the seafront area that panicked and ran for the hills.  I mean, it was right after a 7.5 earthquake and police were screaming "10 Minutes, Tsunami!!".  You would run too.  Then I got a ride with Benuel who was looking for me after the earthquake, he had all my stuff, went home to check if there was damage and then went to Seaside to meet up with my crazy Tawi Morris.  He has a short-term memory problem, which I have no experience in how to deal with, so I just keep repeating myself.  That said, one positive is that he keeps forgetting he just bought me a shell of kava and so he just keeps buying me kava until I run away.  I met the chief from Tavulai and had a good conversation about Tomaso structure.  

12/08/2010 – BP Wharf, Shefa, Labor, and Reynolds with Wotti.  A bit of a nakamal crawl, starting at the wharf because the Saratoka was supposed to take all the mamas from Lulep back to Paama tonight and I wanted to pass something to my bro Morris Luli (stick tobak) but it ended up delaying departure until the following morning, so I just had one shell with Tawi Kidley and some guy from the Seaside area I vaguely recognized.  Met up with Wotti and we went to Shefa where the kava was water and some asshole was playing loud music on his laptop in the only shelter that had space to sit, which I can't stand and this is starting to become a thing now, listening to music while drinking kava.  Went to the spitting wall and had a few shells but my back started to hurt and so we hiked to Reynolds for their awesome plastic chairs and decent kava.  It was a late night, Wotti didn't have to work until the following afternoon.  It was the first time I've hung out with him since he returned to Vila from his home island in the Banks group for a month-long holiday.  He really liked being back home.

13/08/2010 – Chiefs with Marcellin, Aminio, Francis, Joel, Noe, and two dudes from Futuna.  Your basic, after work shell, talked to Marcellin about training fieldworkers to pilot the community well-being survey towards the end of the year and he said he'd be up for it, or that I could use them the way the radio station used them for their survey last year.  Seems interesting.  Aminio wants help to start a coconut oil business to provide employment for Pango village youth, so I said I'd help him write something up.  Francis and I settled a financial accounting hiccup between our two budgets.

14/08/2010 – Freshwater Park White Gate nakamal for a few shells with Joe (Wilco) and Gordon (Municipal Police), then ran into Colin Nepot and Papa John from Nou and had a few Tuskers in the park.  Talked about how Apu Iso in Nou has black magic and has done something to Papa Edwin's jaw by blowing on him.  Or so says an oracle boy on Epi.  Used to be a little girl on SE Ambrym that would be consulted on matters like this, so it's interesting to learn that the title has changed hands.  John thinks that Iso is the reason there's nobody left in Nou village.  And the reason his wife is sick.  Met Mama Elizabeth and she said she's shooting for early retirement due to an illness with her ear.  That means there is no nurse manning the clinic on Paama.  Fundraiser next Saturday at their place in Freshwater, so I'll be there.