My time on Ambae is drawing to a close and my emotions are . . . all-about. Within five minutes, my attitude can change from “If there was a plane leaving now and I could get on it, I would. In a second.” to “How can I be leaving already? How am I going to say good-bye?” It’s exhausting. I could maybe describe the experience as bi-polar . . . . . dichotic? . . . . intense in its opposing natures?
The experience has been long at times and short at others. It has been incredibly frustrating and extremely rewarding, sometimes at the exact same moment. Two years of boredom have also been two years of new experiences. It’s hard to reconcile all of that in one sitting. As soon as I commit one comment to writing, an opposing or qualifying statement has to be added. There are things I will miss and things I will be glad to escape. I am looking forward to being back at home, close to family and friends again, but I know there will lows in the months before a new job or grad school begins. My thoughts go around and around. I’m sad to be leaving, and I’m grateful that I do feel sad because there was a long while when it was just hard to be here. It’s going to be hard to say good-bye but I am so looking forward to saying hello again to people at home. This has just been a very complete, multi-faceted experience. And the more I think about it, the more I think that, as personal therapy perhaps, I’ll be continuing the blog for a while. There are so many things, little things, that have happened that were pushed aside by bigger events for the blog that I’d like to do some reflecting and remember even after I’m back. The nice thing about a blog is that, once it’s out there, it’s in your hands whether you want to continue with me. No pressure.
Here’s a little glimpse of life that normally wouldn’t make it into my blog. There is a cement water tank attached to the corner of my house. It is quite large, especially for one person, so lots of people in my community make use of the water. We use it for cooking and drinking, some of the men use it for cleaning and preparing kava, if the running water is turned off we use the tank water for washing too. But these last few months have been the dry season, and the water level in my tank has been dropping lower and lower. The water trickles instead of pours into the waiting kettle, bucket, or jug. I hear people come to the tank at night—to avoid detection or because they just thought about it, I don’t know—but they are filling buckets, big ones. And I fret. However, my tank continues to provide. At night, a small rain will fall and it is just enough to provide water for that day. It makes me think of the Bible story--Elijah, or was it Elisha, and the widow with her never ending oil and flour. I remind myself that there are other water tanks in Saratamata, but word goes out that they are emptying too and that is why more people are coming to my tank. But the last two days have been rainy, very rainy, and in 48 hours my tank is full to overflowing and the worry recedes. Cabbage leaves stand up again and the lone pineapple in my garden has had a growth spurt. Just like that. It's beautiful.
Here are my plans for leaving Ambae and Vanuatu, just so you know.
Last day on Ambae—November 12
Last day in Vanuatu—November 20
Traveling in Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan until December 12
Arriving home--December 13
There is a lot to do before leaving so I haven’t had much time to enjoy all the possibilities of going to SE Asia, but I’m working on the to-do list. There are reports to write, grad school essays to complete, last kakaes (good-bye dinners) to schedule, and a house to pack. Most of my belongings will be given away or sold so I’ve been making piles all over my house—things to give to people, things to sell, things to mail home fast road (expensive but safer), things to mail home slow road (3-4 months but cheaper), things to carry with me on my travels, things to burn. Not much can be done with them until closer to the end but I feel like I’m making progress. It pleases me to see how little I will be bringing home. I've returned to the days when I could fit all of my belongings into my car. . . . until I get home and take a look into the storage container.
That’s the update from Saratamata, East Ambae, Vanuatu. Five weeks to go, counting down.