Tenā koutou! How y’all doing? Olrait olgeta? Chur.
As I write this I am listening to The Camel by Fat Freddy’s Drop, track one from a mix CD sent to me by my flatmate of three years Mr Lennon Bedford. Cheers mate, am playing it loud! Spent two and a half hours last night listening to the tracks my mate Nick sent (awesome!), and last Saturday I debuted a new Metallica single thanks to Ms Nikki Stilwell. It takes ages for mail to get through, and all of a sudden three packages arrive from around the world. I can’t put into words how stoked I am :)
This is going to be my last email for quite some time, probably until February, so hopefully it doesn’t suck. I figured its time for some reflections on my time in the land of bogans ...
“It’s the little things”
So today they were selling 1.5 litre bottles of Seven Up and those slices of cheese that come individually wrapped. Never seen that sort of thing here so of course I had to buy one each. Feel free to laugh at me :) but things like that are a treat over here.
This may sound crazy to you, but I was getting sick of being able to buy everything now. I was actually becoming jaded with life in a developed country and wanted a lifestyle that helped me to enjoy the little things again. Turns out, moving to a pacific island was the solution. I love making my own coconut milk for my curries, enjoying a cold coke when its 35 degrees outside, keeping a wary eye on my water tank (more on the tenk wara later) and gathering paupau from my paupau tree (which actually just involves leaning off the deck). Chocolate bars taste better, a quiet moment to listen to some favourite tunes is bliss, each dinner feels like a small victory and a text from a friend puts a big smile on my face.
No man is an island
Having said all that, I’m a social animal risking social isolation coming here. There have been days when I’ve missed being able to rock over to a friend’s house or go for a cruise in Bluey when I’m feeling a little low. I miss meeting up at the bar to talk smack and play some pool, going out for dinner and hanging out at the beach.
I have been lucky being based in Buka though, as there are a few ex-pats up here from all walks of life. I’ve got a good support network with VSA, and we’ve had some cool trips together. Oddly, I don’t actually want to spend time with ex-pats though. I’d much rather hang out with Bougainvilleans and I’ve been lucky to make some local friends. Rayleen, Agesta and Jo Vilosi (local hospital) have been great company, my mate Francis the bogan (head boy at the local school next year) pops over to listen to metal with me and there are always people stopping me in the street to say g’day, which is cool. The recently started public servant sports days (once a month) have also been a great opportunity to mix with the locals. So is going to Kenny’s but its always a bit of a gamble going there (two fights the first time, nothing the second time but my mate was armed – but ‘normally’ its ok).
Having a few spare rooms has been good too, I’ve got a flatmate (Melanie, here until March), another flatmate moving in for a few months starting January (Kim, VSA) and so far four people have stayed, which works out at one a month! So I’m hardly banging around by myself.
People do come and go here so friendships can be fluid, and you can either treat that has an opportunity or a loss. For me the glass is half full and I enjoy making new friends.
Health is wealth
I certainly know how to make things difficult for myself. Last year featured many physical crashes, I was doing too much and I must admit, I’m not very good at looking after myself. To be fair, the hospital visits were just bad luck, but I would be the first to put my hand up and say yes, I could be doing better.
Ending a relationship, leaving friends behind (and my CD collection), moving country, and a new environment have been a bit of a challenge to the mental health. The frustrations of work in a developing country have also taken a toll at times, and to be honest having people stay here at the beginning when I should have been taking it easy actually worked against me.
Being here has, however, given me plenty of time to think and reflect (and poor Melanie has been a sounding board). Some of you will be relieved to hear that I’m finally learning how to take care of myself. But you can only spend so much time navel gazing because…
I’m doing development work in a development country and its getting better and better with each week, my friends are great and I’m lucky to have them, I’m travelling and I’ve got great music to keep me company. The past is the past and its time for a new chapter. I have so much to look forward to in 2009, but I will leave that for the next email.
So a merry Christmas to all, wherever you are. I hope this finds you in good health and with good times planned for the weekend. See you in the new year.