Sunday, 27 April 2008

Taking the heat

After six months in the tropics, I’d say we’re about as acclimatised to the heat as we’re ever going to get. Unfortunately, I still sweat profusely with quite low levels of activity, talking to a patient, for example, or slicing our home-made bread on a Sunday afternoon. I am convinced that I sweat more than my fellow volunteers, although Rob thinks he rivals or surpasses me. That we sweat in the heat is not surprising, however we have noticed of late our increasing sensitivity to cold. Of course it never gets “cold” here in the Solomons, but our goalposts have certainly shifted.

Departing Australia in October, I remarked to Steve that it would be another 18 months before I had cold feet again. I and the other females in my family are rarely without our fleecy slippers at home, trying to prevent iciness of our extremities. Walking on chilly surfaces such as tiles in a Melbourne or Auckland winter borders on painful, but surely there would not be such problems for me in Solomon Islands? It turns out that twenty four or twenty five degrees these days is practically Arctic, and the kitchen lino in these temperatures is cold to the point of being mildly painful!

Sitting down in the evenings sees the temperature drop below thirty degrees, usually, which is comfortable. Lose a couple more degrees, and, with the fan running, I start getting cold. Steve thinks I’m crazy, and won’t let me turn the fan off, so I have been resorting to long-sleeved shirts and light trousers recently. I am not quite resorting to the winter woollies that the Solomon Islanders do, but all the same, would never have dreamed of feeling chilly here.

Our coffee and tea consumption has risen again as we have acclimatised, and we now think nothing of having a cuppa in the afternoon despite it being thirty one degrees or so. Steve’s favourite coffee mug, his Greenlane Christian Centre mug, has just lost its handle in an unfortunate fall during Steve’s haste to get himself caffeinated. He is distraught but consolable, and refuses to drink coffee from anything but the handle-less vessel. I may not be able to convince him to leave it behind when we go.

In nine weeks time, my mum, dad and brother are coming to visit. I’m hoping that they will sweat more than me….and maybe bring me a few more long sleeves.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

River Fiu Adventure

Many a discussion had been made on floating down the Fiu river on a tyre and finally today was the day. After being assured by our contact the night before that the truck inner tyres required would be ready at the local work yard the next morning, we arrived to find . . . surprise, surprise, they weren’t. In fact there was only one truck tyre, the other three were hylux tyres plus a car tyre and all needed repairs and pumping up.

2 hours later, a bit despondent we assembled at the starting point. The truck tyre had become flat during the 15 min ride to the river so that left Kelly, Steve & Rob with the hylux and Lara with the car tyre. John & Dave well prepared, both had their truck tyres.

The first part of the journey was spent experimenting with positioning in the tyres and how to manoeuvre them in the current while attempting to avoid the rocks and branches. There is only one way to ride the car tyre – on your tummy like a boggie board, knees and legs up to avoid the rocks! Two of us (guess who!) became rather chilly. I was able to scavenge a thermal top and gloves off Dave and Rob ½ way. The rest found the temperature rather pleasant.

The peaceful tranquillity was often shattered by John’s rendition of “That’s why I tell you . . . you’d better be home soon” (Crowded House) The water was so clear you could see the crocs coming a mile away!

Despite sore and hungry bodies, the 4 hours & 20 mins was totally worth it. Although an increase in water flow would have created additional delight. Unfortunately due to the isolation of the river route we fear we have inadvertently caused many a pikinini to have nightmares of whiteman floating down the river!!!! One wee fella was so terrified of the 6 whitemen he sat frozen in his tree petrified crying!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Cooking Class

When accepting a request to provide a cooking session for the woman’s group, I was unsure what exactly that would involve. After extensive questioning in pijin, I continued to remain in the dark about how these sessions usually operate, how many attend, with the only expectation verbalised – make a fish curry.

Rising to the challenge I delved into my cookbook, searching for enticing, healthy recipes that can be made with readily available ingredients. Keeping in mind the local kitchen consists of a fireplace so usual forms of cooking are via frying pan, pot or steaming with the food wrapped up in banana leaves. Selecting four recipes I proceeded to translate them into pijin. I did try to have these checked by a local woman.

The anticipated day arrived. 30 mins before intended commencement time, the 3 recipes (one I had never made!) had been mentally sequenced; ingredients and kitchen had been prepared so I was able to relax with a book. 8 local women appeared as well as Kelly. And so the fun began. I launched off with sweet and savoury pinwheel scones, followed by the requested fish curry, and while it simmered created a stir fry. I had not written out the stir fry recipe figuring that it’s such a flexible dish. This was however asked for. I hesitate to suggest that the session will be recalled for its fine cuisine as I suspect the most memorable incident was when the lighter didn’t turn off, causing the container I threw it in, to alight. Blissfully focusing on the fish curry, I turned just in time to see Kelly putting the fire out! Oh well. . .

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Wedding Anniversary

Yes we have made it to our first Wedding Anniversary (still no arguments)!! I’m sure relatively few ‘normal’ kiwis can boast of celebrating theirs in the Solomon Islands, having spent the last year in 3 different countries, 4 different homes and two different jobs each.

Our day was spent in Honiara as we had come over to catch up with Steve, Kris, Noah & Roman, the AVI crew and the wonderful National CBR therapists. We were shouted lunch at our favourite cafĂ© – El Shaddei, and of course had the special ice coffee (best in SI). Evening meal was celebrated at the Honiara Hotel. Rob indulged on a big slab of medium rare steak, Lara enjoyed the titillating taste of fresh scallops and prawns smothered in a lime and butter sauce. Polished off with a rich chocolate mousse for desert. Guess who chose that?! This was still less than a night out in NZ.


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