Wednesday, September 06, 2006
This weekend I tried my first fresh coconut! I’ve never bought one before since I haven’t the slightest idea what to do with it, and they are pretty expensive in the states. Coconuts here are tasty and cheap. My friend Anita invited me to go for lunch at the Tide Table on Friday. She is the new chairman of the business department, one of very few other faculty members under the age of 40, and also a returned missionary. The city opened a new outdoor market for local farmers adjacent to the restaurant, and they had young coconuts for 25 cents each! The Taiwanese embassy was there (with my volunteer friends Amber and Roxanne) doing vegetable cooking demonstrations in an effort to convince people here to eat more vegetables. I was so excited to see so many local farmers being supported and there were tons of breadfruits and coconuts…it was great! I didn’t realize before this that you can eat a coconut with no utensils. There is a soft spot on the top (one of the three holes that makes it look like a bowling ball) that you can poke with your finger and then suck the juice through. When you’re done there’s another soft spot that you just need to bang on a tree or any other hard object to get the coconut to split. Anita’s from Kiribati so she’s practically professional at these tropical things and I was so glad have someone show me how to do it so I’m not ignorant anymore. The way to envision where to crack it is to pretend it’s someone’s head (the three holes are eyes and nose) and aim for this weak part of the head. It’s not a very pleasant mental image, but it tasted great. The local bananas here are also out-of-this world. Chiquita doesn’t hold a candle to them. They are only about 3 inches long (probably what the ones back home used to resemble before genetic modification) and so flavorful! I love it! There’s a Philippino restaurant across the street from the college that makes the most divine Banana Lumpias. They look like egg rolls but instead of veggies inside there’s banana. I am going to have to be careful not to develop an addiction to them
My Marshallese is coming along very slowly. Most of the relatively new foreign teachers are taking the class together. The grammar is pretty easy, but pronunciation is not at all. There are 3 kinds of o’s and n’s, and two kinds of a’s, l’s, m’s, and u’s. My favorite phrases that we learned last week are “enana jook” (don’t be shy! Which is appropriate to say with my students if I can get them to recognize what I’m trying to say), and “enana bwin” (that’s a bad smell…speaking of the community dumpsters that are located every couple blocks…uncovered in the humid tropical air). Also, anything that westerners brought with them to the island is marshall-sized….like “pajkot bool”= basketball (very popular here), jikuul (school), and tokto (doctor). We have a lot of fun laughing in class at absolutely ridiculous we sound saying words we should be familiar with.
At church I got some adorable pictures of kids (I’ve posted them here). They are so cute and so outgoing…well, except for one little girl. She is absolutely petrified white people. Seriously, she looked at me like I was the devil incarnate. Her mom couldn’t even attend the Sunday school class I was in because she panicked at the sight of me. But she’s pretty small. Once they’re about 3 or 4, they’re fearless. In fact, I regularly see them in the lagoon jumping off rusty old boats into the water. It’s such a fun sight to see them playing together. They are so creative. This is a place where it’s still considered safe for the adults to stay inside while the kids run around the neighborhood unsupervised. It’s a shame that the world is getting less and less safe to the point where kids can’t be kids anymore. It’s fun to see them running around having such a good time.
Well, that’s all I can think of for now. I’ll write more if I have any interesting experiences.