Letter 30 / 9 / 82
Thursday already, I'd better start building up a stack of mail for Monday's plane. Rumour has it that there may be a ship next week too, but no one ever really knows when the ship is coming.
This last Monday we waited in vain for our first mail plane. A team of doctors from TI were to make their monthly visit too, and I was looking forward to a check-up. But the plane broke down (as it does frequently) . The doctors cancelled their visit until Oct 20, and the plane finally came in on Tuesday afternoon. Even then we waited in vain for mail - its the policeman's job to deliver it. The tractor came by with a box for us from TI with some sultanas for James (even on TI they are hard to get) and a couple of lamps for us. It wasn't until mid-morning on Wednesday that we finally received our little stack of mail.
The chairman, James Rice, isn't a bad old stick, though he is a little bit strange. Without our typewriter to make it easier for me to write at length I haven't a hope of beginning to tell you about the workings of "Island Politics" and the struggle for power.
Anyway, Chairman James Rice was delighted to meet our James, and immediately "adopted" him as his grandchild ... and, as far as I can tell, we therefore get this place rent-free and the use of the generator (when there is diesel available) free too.
Its all to do with who you are related to. Somewhere James Rice has picked up a peculiar dry sense of humour. Like when Peter was discussing our plans ... there is a teachers' conference here about November 12, accommodation will be tight, so we'll take a holiday in
Edge of the world
We haven't received any mail via
Peter's caught a couple of fish at last, and now he can relax a bit.
We had all been sleeping-in every morning (no point in getting up before James) - the sea air makes us all very tired. James picked up a runny tummy virus from the grubby brown boys he plays with. But yesterday he woke up early, so we all got up and Peter went fishing.
He couldn't borrow a fish-spear to get sardine bait so he was using dough ... but he caught a sardine on the dough, and a lovely golden trevally on the sardine.
This morning once again he was up early and we had snapper for breakfast. We have learnt quickly that we can't keep fish more than 3-4 hours - morning fish gives breakfast and/or lunch. If you fish in the evening and catch a great mackerel you have to eat it for supper or waste it. We eat so much fish. At least one meal a day, often two, sometimes three. (And not in small quantities either). If you can't catch some, someone's bound to give you some.
My bread making is going well - though only white flour is available. I make a couple of loaves every 2-3 days - we eat one and give one away (helps to build friendships). Our hosts here, Wilfred and Margaret (I did tell you about them, didn't I?) give us so much fish I had hoped to repay a bit with bread. But now Margaret has learned to make it herself and is doing quite well.
Peter's out working on our housing survey - at least its nice and cloudy for him today. Our work at present is a bit indefinable, but a map of the village seemed a good place to start. He's looking mostly at types of houses to start with, with a view to our own house-building. Then we hope to be able to fill in who lives where and work out how some of them are related.
People are beginning to accept us a bit as we walk around the village - everyone greets us (and kisses poor James). But we still haven't a close enough association with anyone in particular to get language helpers. Each family is closely-knit and so jealous ... we can't hope to please all the people but we'd like to remain friendly with most.
Fruit and veges
We finally got some garden produce. Wilfred and Peter went up the hill the other day and came back with heaps of over-ripe pawpaws and green bananas. The pawpaws did not sit at all well in my tum, and we had to throw most of them out. The bananas are now all ripe and I've been dishing out banana cakes and banana biscuits left, right and centre.
We were looking forward to being a little more permanent and growing a few veges ourselves. It would be so nice to have a fridge too. And we plan to bring some chooks up here. The only "phat" available here is tinned butter - once a tin is opened not the flies, nor ants, nor rats are the slightest bit interested! Don't blame them, its horrid stuff. There were some tubs of "Softa" butter, but like the eggs in the store they quickly went off without refrigeration. Can't seem to get egg powder either.
Well I have some "culture" stuff to write up. Its getting towards 11am and James is looking tired so I must soon give him some lunch (and a wash!) and put him to bed. He hardly eats at all, drinks a couple of cups of milo a day - I guess that's where he gets his sustenance. He's still a stocky, strong-looking chap - of his three play-mates he is as big as the 3 yr old and as heavy as the 4 yr old, (and he's not 2 yet). Their mother force-feeds them (lays each one on her lap and holds his nose so he opens their mouth and then rams a huge spoonful in...) on white rice and noodles, and thinks I should do the same with James because he won't eat. But as far as I can see he's doing alright - if he's hungry he'll eat. He enjoys sultanas, and we scrounged a packet of All-Bran from TI for his fibre. And he eats Vegemite or honey on his bread, so his diet isn't that bad.