Sunday, August 29, 2010

It took longer than I orginally suggested it would, but here are few pictures from the last few months.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday the 28th

Hey everyone,
Alex and I are alive and well in sunny Washington DC! We've been in town for a couple days, eating a lot and sleeping a lot. The new group of volunteers arrive in Vanuatu next month, they have a group that they have organized on facebook (V-23), it's fun to read their entries and kind of feel the excitement and energy that comes with a new group.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 18th

Alex and I just arrived in Port Vila this afternoon. We are well. We are coming to America next week. One of Alex's best friends is getting married. We'll be in DC for two weeks. We are excited to see our families. It'll be fun to see what surprises us about America.

The battery for our solar system at site died a few weeks ago. This meant no charging the computer, so there's a gap with no blog entries for the last couple weeks.

We've led a couple more PHAST workshops since the last blog entries. It's been good. We feel like we are building capacity. We are waiting for our first major setback, we expect it should come one of these days soon.

Since we haven't many blog entries, we'll try to include more pictures. Check back in a couple days.

Don't Wait

April 23, 2007 - Began hiking on the Appalachian Trail. This will be my longest trip yet, hoping to get three months out of my budget. There was a ATC volunteer at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail whose job it is to write down the names and trail plans of everyone beginning the trail. As one is obliged, we made small talk about the prettiness of the area, the delightfulness of the weather, 'interesting' hikers he had met and such things. I asked him if anyone had started the trail today. Two had began, "a nice fellow" trail-named 'Don't Wait' whom I would meet that afternoon and a female "about your age" who was walking to Hot Springs, (whom I would marry).

Don't Wait is a slender man, probably in his early fifties with a well-groomed salt-and-peppered beard and an external frame backpack. He was photographing a trail-side wildflower as I caught up to him on the trail. "Uh......the for my wife", Don't Wait assured, "....she likes that sort of thing".

"Nice iris" I replied.

Don't Wait and I were the only two at the shelter that evening. We had a small campfire and talked about the purpose of life and how great it was to be in the woods completely removed from cultural expectations and responsibilities (these were, of course, separate conversations as the purpose of life is not likely to be a bum). Don't Wait taught me how to use a flint and magnesium contraption we found in the shelter to build a campfire. My first ever flint and magnesium fire! This was Don't Wait's first trip on the trail and had been a long-time coming, hence his trail name.

I spent two days hiking with 'Don't Wait'. We had several pleasant conversations. On the third day it was raining and we came to a hostel on the trail. 'Don't Wait' chose to stay at the hostel and I chose to go on. I met Alex a few hours later. I saw 'Don't Wait' one more time, at a hostel about two weeks later. He had finished his hike on the trail and had loved it. He wished us well and went back to Kentucky the next day.

June 28, 2010 - We [Alex and I] were meant to catch a plane into Port Vila yesterday. The plane didn't come because the grass runway was too wet from all the rain. We spent last night in the guesthouse near the airport. We received several packages at the post office today. Letters from friends and family, packages from each of our parents and a padded envelope from a name we did not immediately recognize. The person had sent us giant pumpkin seeds, pictures of Halloween and several pictures of the American countryside from an old calendar. And a note that read:
"...I've been following your blog off and on for a while now....Congratulations on your marriage and life...It's great that your doing this when you're young. I think most people start their family and careers and never really get the chance to break away....Don't Wait"

A big Vanuatu tank yu tumas

Arriving in Port Vila a few weeks ago, Alex and I were surprised and excited to find a significant number of boxes from America with our names on them. We received a significant number of care packages from Parkway High.

In 1994, I (Lucas) graduated from Parkway High School, a small school system in rural Ohio. As I understand the story, it goes like this: (please forgive any inaccuracies)

A group of students from Parkway High found it appropriate to do a service project. They wanted to do something for the U.S. military men and women. They decided to collect donations from the community and send them to Parkway Alumni currently serving their country in association with the U.S. war efforts. They collected donations and began to seek out Parkway Alumni to be sent the care packages.

Ourselves and our community very much appreciate everyone's thoughtfulness and have been putting the donations to good use. The monetary donation has gone to support our PHAST project (we'll send you pictures); the pencils and paper are being used for PHAST work as well. The socks are keeping toes warm during the tropical winter (it's colder than you think!! and cold is relative). The Jolly Ranchers are bribing children to come visit us. We have all (including myself) enjoyed the cookies and crackers. Our friend, Mikey, who lifts weights (we call it pumping iron in Bislama) daily in rural Vanuatu absolutely loves the muscle magazine.

Does anyone really understand the appropriate use of a semi-colon? ;

July 17

Hello again from beautiful Pentecost.

Alex and I have a few friends who are currently spending the Antarctic winter in Antarctica. For them, it's been 24-hour darkness for months. Presumably the first sunrise should be coming soon (I don't know and I can't google it).

Our friends that are currently living in Antarctica are friends that we met when we were working there. We had similar lives while we were working together. We shared the same meals everyday, knew the same gossip and had the same after-work social options. And there seemed to be this level of kinship because we were going through the same exotic experience together.

And now are lives are vastly different. Most of their food has been in the freezer for years; our food is typically in the ground the day before we eat it. On exceptionally cold days they must ensure bare skin is not exposed; we must put on a long-sleeve shirt. We don't wear shoes; they wear gigantic boots. They are making tons of money; Peace Corps Volunteers do not make tons of money. They have lots of social options that involve alcohol; we couldn't buy a beer if we wanted to. (This list could go on, but I don't see the point.)

I have never (nor will I ever) be in Antarctica in the winter time. I don't have a clue what it is like to live in 24-hour darkness with no possibility of escape. Nor will most of them ever understand the Melanesian culture as Alex and I do.

I want to write about how it's neat to have friends whose lives are so drastically different from your own; and I want to write about how our lives are similar because we are both just trying to live in a world we have not known before and that there is kinship in doing so; and I want to write about how friendship transcends environment; and such.

But most importantly I think I just wanted to write about some of my friends from the ice, as I've been thinking about them lately.

To my friends on the ice - if your after-ice travel plans include small tropical islands, I doubt there is a better option than to come and visit your friends on beautiful Pentecost. E-mail us before mid-September and we'll get back to you with all the logistical information you will need. It's a little expensive to get here, but Alex and I will take care of all food and such things after you arrive. And it should be the beginning of mango season come late October.

July 13

Hello all,
Alex and I have been on site for close to a week now. We have been busy. A friend from another island, Jared, has come to visit us at our site. We have a PHAST workshop starting the day after tomorrow. Jared has come to both visit us and see how the PHAST goes, if it's something he wants to do on his island (Epi). We have been spending our days preparing for the PHAST workshop and visiting with Jared. We have been watching a movies most nights with Jared. Last night we watched Battle Star Galactica. Robots are warring with humans, we don't why. It's kind of like Star Trek, but with different people.

Jared wrote about his visit in his blog: