Jungle Fever – Santo Building Project
Well, we’re briefly back in civilisation from our first remote village experience. It was only 10 days, but it felt like a month! The village we went to, Angoru, is approx 2.5 hours by 4WD from the main town on Santo island. A couple big river crossings means you can’t get in or out if its been raining for a few days.We joined a building team from Brisbane to dismantle an old village hut and build a new hut in its place with a concrete floor, and new structure, walls and roof, using local methods and materials. The old hut had been standing about 6 years, and was the Pike’s house when they first moved to the village. Bamboo walls and pandanus roof doesn’t last forever… we built a new hut which will be the translation office.
Hauling supplies back from the jungle
Laying a concrete slab
Friday night ‘String Band’ entertainment in the nearly finished ‘office’..
Aside from the building project we filled our afternoons and weekends hanging out with the locals, talking to Adam and Hester about bible translation and village life,’showering’ in the river, and convincing the local kids that just because we are white doesn’t mean we are going to give them an immunisation needle. We are friendly! For many of them, the Pike family are the only white people they’ve seen. So 4 ute loads of white people is a very scary thing! When we first arrived in the village, we felt awkward, all too aware of the differences between our culture and theirs, but after only a week the village took us in, and graciously struggled with us in our awful attempts at Bislama and their language, Merei.
Our accommodation was pretty rustic. Tents set up inside a nearby village house. Since there are no windows (lest the evil spirits get in) it was dark all the time, even in the middle of the day. Thank God I brought ear plugs, with the men snoring, the neighbours up cooking and playing guitar hours before dawn and the roosters crowing constantly… ear plugs are the only way I got any sleep.
Brad quickly earned the trust of the 3 youngest Pike children and turned them into ‘mini-slaves’ with an elaborate system of point scoring and prizes to reinforce good behaviour.. and ensure they were at his beck and call. Quite genius actually. They are lovely kids anyway, and handy at translating Bislama to English for us..
In a word, just being there is… exhausting. The extreme humidity, the mud, the mozzies, the effort it takes just to clean yourself at the end of the day, searching around in the dark to find your things in the pitch-dark village house, the culture shock, the struggle to communicate – not to mention the heavy work load, and push to get the hut finished in 6 work days.
I couldn’t sign off without a photo of Elyse’s ‘lovely’ moo moo – island dress as promised.
More on Angoru village, Santo later… we’re off to Tanna island tomorrow morning. If you’d like to see more photos – follow this link… http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=120437&id=728601078&l=93ed8463c0