28.05.2018 By Heather Ware in Vanuatu
It is the small stuff that you notice when you hit Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.
Hearing Bislama, the local lingo, for starters. It sounds familiar, being a simpler, phonetic version of English, yet at pace you can’t understand it. I soon found myself mumbling the basic ‘Halo’ and ‘Gudmoning,’ which doesn’t really cut it for cross-cultural communication.
Lessons began just a few days after arriving. These were delivered by the bubbly Gael from the tiled floor, while I perched like a school kid on a chair – not ever having possessed a great yoga skill set. Bislama is both logical and funny. For example, ‘klosap’ is near, ‘kapsaedum’ is to tip over and ‘kilum’ is to hit. But ‘kilum ded’ – well, that is murder as we know it! The language learning is a work in progress.
Two days after arriving here, the 4-month drought was broken. Steamy 30 degrees days with 98 humidity turn to 100% humidity. This is code for torrential downpours, dashes of lightening and loud rolling thunder. But it is still hot. Very hot.
Getting used to 25 degrees at night, takes time. The stand-up fan trails me around the house like a pet dog. My other pets are the lizards. I didn’t know they chirped. Like some obsessed version of Mother Attenborough I have become fixated on their predatory moves darting across the balcony ceiling, all the while trying to cool down after walking home up the hill from work. My dad told me that “horses sweat and ladies glow”, but we’re talking lots and lots of sweat. I am a horse - no doubt.
Which brings me back to the hot, rainy season, Gael, and her phone. Most ni-Vanuatu in Luganville seem to have smart phones. But sadly, Gael’s screen was smashed a few months back. She hasn’t fixed it. During a storm last summer, fork-lightning struck her phone through her open door while she was breast feeding one of her young twins. So she has kept it, just as is.
I would too.