16 March 2007

March 8-15: Village Life

Without further delay... letter-post #2

9 March
Hotel, S. Tarawa

This is my last evening in the hotel for some time. I am excited to go meet my host family tomorrow. I hope my language skills are good enough to be able to communicate with them. Today we went shopping in Biriki. I visited the only internet cafe in the country and was able to post my first in-country entry. This also means that for a few days every 3 months or so I will be on gmail to chat.

10 March
Nooto, Kiribati

Today was the day... I moved in with my host family in Nooto. I feel like I am starring in 'The Last Samurai' but, unlike Algren, I am not a linguistic genius. It is difficult not to fall back on English upon occasion. I even had a walk with my 10 year old tiram (sister) just like in the film- awkward pauses and all. Sometimes, I feel a bit like a pet. They watched me eat and go to bed. But I hope I made a good impression. I understand that these things take time.

11 March

Went to church today... I did my best to sing along. I also tried to use the time to meditate.

12 March

I'm growing.

I'm also analytical to a fault... at least I allow it to become a fault. I will not let a single mood become my existence. So what... I am overwhelmed- I have had little sleep and I am not in my comfort zone. I just need to so something I enjoy.

Things improved drastically. But I just need to recognize that this is hard- language aside, just living here is an accomplishment. The I-Kiribati don't see all the health concerns, dietary restrictions. It is nothing for them to live without privacy in a small room with rats. All that... and so far from my friends... I'm growing.

14 March

I enjoy the challenge and frustrations of learning a new language. I've also started taking up old passtimes in new ways. I just built a bike rack out of pandanus bark and making a meditation cushion out of traditional woven mats. Little things that remind me of home and of who I am are important. Just negotiating my schedule each day with my tamau (dad) is a cross-cultural exchange. In a male-dominant country, an unmarried woman/daughter (my relative family status) has few rights and priveleges. But for myself, a woman as independent as they comes, it takes empathy, humility, and a sense of purpose to maintain my composure when I am told regardless of logic that I will do some particular thing, like return home at a certain hour. But this type of interaction is why I chose to join the PC.

15 March

Another volunteer has gone back to calling me by my affectionate nickname 'Beefykins'! I must admit it makes me smile.


Paradise disguised... not lost.
We all create our own circumstances.
Whether the water is clear and bright
or dark and clouded.

Phrase of the Week: Ko Kewe! (You lie!)

- More Kiribati Language
- about the Public school system in Kiribati
- It is difficult to give up concern about appearance totally.
- Sleeping in a hammock is bad for your back.
- Your leg can indeed be covered entirely in mosquito bites.
- My skin can sunburn and then peel, making me look like a zombie.
- Sometimes the best thing you can do is breathe.