One of the main reasons we’re attending this course is to brush up on our Tok Pisin language skills. Some people find the language instruction here rather unorthodox since there is very little lecture time, minimal focus on grammar and almost no use of a textbook. For the most part we just interact with our Papua New Guinean teacher.
We usually have a theme for the day like family relationship terms or market vocabulary, and we listen to our teacher talk. He might tell us a simple story using a picture book, and we ask questions as needed. Or we’ll complete commands as given by our teacher—kind of like “Simon Says”. One of my favorite activities is the progressive story. As your turn comes up, you make up a line or two in Tok Pisin to add to a totally random story. A “use-the-knowledge-you-have” kind of activity—no wrong answers. I like that. It’s funny, though, how our stories always seemed to be about people wanting to get married. <grin>
Yesterday we enjoyed a little reprieve from the demands of our course schedule, and spent the day at the ocean. The photos don’t do justice to the turquoise blue of the water that day. The kids spent the day hunting for shells, crabs and sea cucumbers. I’m told that just beyond that island in the photo is a coral reef and drop off not unlike the one in “Finding Nemo”. We did take a canoe out to explore that little island, and imagined how we’d survive if we were marooned there, but I spent most of my time just sitting on that tree listening to the water lap against the shore.
Sooner or later you knew I’d have to do a blog on PNG’s share of creepy crawlies. I’d say they have more than a fair share of them!
Someone found this guy hiding out in a woodpile. I’m glad it wasn’t me. He was about 8 inches long!
This leaf requires a second glance!
These 4-inch long millipedes were almost as common as dirt.
This non-venomous snake became the school pet. The kids named him “Forest”.
This weekend we started living out of our newly constructed “hauskuk” (literally house cook). We’re quite pleased with how it turned out. The open construction provides ample ventilation should our variable temperature, wood-fired stove by chance smoke and attempt to asphyxiate those inside. We have our dining room table with only the finest of bamboo benches and a lino-covered eating surface to make clean-up a snap. The kitchen counter converts quickly from food prep area to dual basin dish-washing area. And don’t forget that patriot touch of a fluttering PNG flag.
Today we practiced cooking over an open fire. Not a completely new experience since we like to go camping, but then again I’ve never tried making pizza over a campfire! See that golden brown crust? The key is to keep your fire at a constant 400F. Yeah right…. Move over Pizza Hut! This PNG bush version features SPAM look-a-like and “cheese” that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Yummy!
We are amazed by what our local friends can make out the natural resources found in the jungle. Almost every plant to be found has a practical use. Coconut and sago palm leaves and bamboo feature heavily in the construction of their homes—from the floor to the roof and even the walls as well.
We got a little practice building from bush materials too. Soon we will be cooking our own meals over an open fire on the weekends, so each family is building their own “hauskuk” (cooking house). We cheated a little using a tarp for the roof and some synthetic raffia to tie everything together, but as you can see the rest is all natural.
We’re also learning that right after air, water and food, the machete (or bush knife as they’re called here) is essential to life here in PNG. We’re getting pretty handy with them ourselves, but we have long way to go compared to the Papua New Guineans who seem to be born holding a bush knife. <wink>