Letter 21 / 10 / 82
Its good to know that we are getting through at last. Your letter (Sun Oct 10) got here on Monday (Oct 10) - but not the parcel.
Is it clearly marked "air mail"? Otherwise it won't come until the next ship comes. AVDEV, the bods that own the local planes tend to be a bit funny about carrying mail, especially parcels. Freight from TI (by air) is 55c/kg, with a minimum of $5.50.
But sometimes they just decide they won't take this or that. This is the
We tried to order a Bamix washing machine from
Time for a holiday
About the time you receive this we should be on our way to TI, then the next day to
There is a phone on MI if you ever want to contact us in a hurry - or if you are bored and want to spend an interesting half-hour. The TI exchange is manual, so you need to persuade the "Old Dear" to give you number 129.
If you get through (if anyone answers) bear in mind that their English isn't too good. Our house (if we are home) is a good 200m (that's metres, not miles!) from the phone, and Islanders rarely run. So tell them to get us and ring back 15 minutes later, or better still give us a definite time later that you will ring.
Sometimes the phone makes a funny noise and goes dead. Just keep saying "Allo? Allo?" until you get through again ...
There's an Anglican church, an Assemblies of God, and a "Body-Felt Salvation". We don't worry about Body-Felt, but we alternate between Anglican and AOG and try to keep "in" with both.
There is no real Christian teaching at either, the singing is lively at both and we hear a fair bit of Meriam language at both. We occasionally get criticised for not attending daily 7am mass at the Anglican - they seem to have no idea that you can pray at home.
The few that seem to be really born-again on Sundays have absolutely no Christian life on other days - swearing, getting drunk, quarrelling. We have never heard anyone here say anything nice about anyone else. Worse than that, everyone goes out of their way to slander everyone else. It's the weirdest thing. Its all part of their constant power struggle. We upset it all by smiling and greeting everyone and giving away biscuits and bread at random.
Peter was going to visit (Anglican) Fr Tabo today to strengthen our ties there - we are living in an AOG stronghold at this end of the village.
He was just helping Wilfred clean the head of a borrowed cassette recorder, and he broke a bit of plastic on the door of it ... Wilfred is anxious because the owner is liable to return any second and he has a tendency to drunkenness and violence. We've tried Araldite, no good. Peter's gone up to the school to see if he can borrow some plastics glue. I might have to use the pumpkin scones I just made for Fr Tabo to temporarily appease this other chap.
It’s been oppressive weather the last few days. The pump is still broken, people are bucketing well water. Our tank trickles on, thankfully. As far as I can tell from what they are saying, a large piece of wood from the pump broke off and got lodged down the well. There are 15 well casings, and as they were pulling them up to get the wood out, 13 fell back down the well. Its a bit of a disaster all round.
Burning the island
They burnt the island the other day. I gather it's supposed to make rain, but its a bit un-nerving to be on a tiny island that's going up in smoke. And of course there were black bits falling everywhere, and thick smoke. Sure enough, yesterday the clouds built up and threatened, and it even sprinkled lightly in rain, but most of it went out over the ocean and probably fell on
I saw a doctor the other day - a different one. He says I'm two or three weeks bigger than my dates allow, so he says my dates are wrong. Well, what's a couple of weeks between mother and child? We'll be back in
Poor James seems to be so insecure these days - its obvious in a number of ways. His toilet training has 'gone to pot' - he won't use his pot or the toilet. He wets everywhere - in bed, on chairs, on my knee. At least we've got the solids back in check after a bit of a 'rough trot' there too.
He cries uncontrollably if either one of us goes anywhere or is suddenly out of sight. I had a terrible day yesterday when Peter was helping out up at the pump all day. James was inconsolable - "Daddy! Daddy!" all day, but he's really not a "daddy's boy" normally at all.
Then there's the things he carries in his hands. Whether he's awake, asleep, eating, running - wherever. He always has two hands full of small cowrie shells, marbles, stones, usually a spoon (I keep losing those), often a stick, a cup ... And if he has a particularly large pile of things he wants to carry and they won't all fit in his tiny pudgy hands he just screams!
When he falls over he lies there like a turtle, on his tummy with his head and clenched fists (full of things) up in the air. He won't put his 'treasures' in the dirt to push himself back up again. Of course little darlings next door have observed how amusing it is to distress him by taking his treasures away.
I'd like to solve the practical side by giving him a large pocket or something (although I feel he may not readily accept that) - rather difficult when all he wears is singlet and trainer pants. I could put him in the "kindergarten" here - aged 1-5 - and have more free time for myself, but right now I just don't think he could take it.
Living with Margaret
Right now we are feeling a bit stressed and looking forward to our holiday down south. But when we work out what's causing the stress ... its not the place or the people - its our white-skinned neighbour, Margaret. She really has a split personality these days - nice one minute, screaming at everyone the next. Wilfred just keeps muttering "she's mad". I've stopped going out of my way to be nice to her, I mostly avoid her - she doesn't speak Meriam language and my association with her is blocking my way to any other women.
I'm beginning to hope they find us somewhere else to live when we return. The Anglicans have a little place Peter wants to ask Fr Tabo about. And it would be nice for James to have some new playmates too. At least Peter gets out and about these days - although 'the ogre' usually tries to take his head off on the way past. If it wasn't so hot, and me so tired, and James so heavy I'd take off via the beach (avoiding her) to find adventure with the other women ... but its a very sloping beach with (hot) soft sand and I always get such a bad back when I try carrying James along it, and he refuses point blank to walk.
I've planted a couple of sweet potatoes in milk tins as decorative indoor plants. They have really taken off. I half expect to wake up in the night with one wrapped around my neck.
Fish are not caught so readily these days, though we have one every couple of days. Its turtle season, and also there is still chicken in the store freezer so people aren't so keen on fishing.
Peter's biggest fish so far was a "black kingy" caught one morning - it was 49" long. After it was cleaned and everything we found some (weighing) scales and it weighed in at 26lb. We filleted it, gave away half, Wilfred and Margaret had two large meals out of it, we had one, then five of us and four kids tried to finish it off at a barbecue - but only ate about half of what was left, the rest went to the pigs and dogs.
The other day Peter and Wilfred and Dave went out fishing in a borrowed boat - with Fredwin.
Hoy! and darts
I think the Anglicans have a fete today. That means they sell a few things (cakes, bananas). But mostly they make money by playing "Hoy!" (its like "Bingo!" with playing cards), darts (a special gambling game) and Hoopla. We went to the cathedral fete when we were on TI - the money that was rolling in there was amazing. The Catholics on TI also had a fete, we heard that they raised $1400 in one day.
Trip to Dawar
Tomorrow we have been promised a ride out to