2010-02-14: Tamalikis

Finally, no more Valentines Day. It took 6,000 miles of travel, but I have finally found a place that doesnÂ’t give a rip about the greeting card holiday. I am about ¾ finished with this mysterious holiday and nobody has wished me a happy Valentine’s Day, given me a cheesy card, or worn pink. Well, Bale, my 10-year-old neighbor boy, did have pink camo shorts on today, but I donÂ’t think he meant anything by it.

I am back on the island after a trip to Suva. Kelly is doing a work exchange with another volunteer so she hasn’t made it back home yet. So far it has been pretty relaxing. The hurricane pounding Tonga has produced a lot of cool Southerly wind that we haven’t seen since September. It almost feels like the ‘dry’ season again. I just hope the storm doesn’t turn Westward, it looks nasty.

So more Canadians showed up yesterday and I have been touring them around the island a bit. Two of them are farmers and were very interested in the farms around the island. I was surprised how much I had remembered from my trips through the bush with Papa and things IÂ’ve picked up from other villagers here and there. It felt good showing off the island to people truly interested in how these folks live.

After the hike I wanted to take advantage of the cool weather and make a trip to a hill overlooking Bat Island. ItÂ’s a beauty of a view and would be a great point to catch the sunrise early in the morning, if I could ever motivate myself to get up and make the hike. The timing has to be just right, though, as you canÂ’t reach it in high tide very easily and there are often clouds in the eastern skies.

On my way, Bale, Vailua, Taapo, and Josiah decided to tag along. I was glad as tamalikis always make any hike more enjoyable. They taught me how to eat the tanu, which is young coconut sprouting from the ground. It tastes like a coconut sponge. We then learned how to slide down hills on coconut palms. After that we hiked up a steep incline through a cassava plantation to the crest of the hill. I was kinda thinking I would loose the gang, as it was a hard climb in the hot sun. Nope, they scampered up barefoot leaving me in their tracks. These kids definitely donÂ’t have an obesity problem with all the playing and running around they do.

When we reached the top of the barren hill I was hoping for a little alone time to reflect on the amazing view. I thought for sure theyÂ’d head back down for shade. Nope, they simply tucked under some Cassava plants and enjoyed the view as well. On the way back they picked some green mango and ate them along the way.

There is a lot to be said about the type of lessons children learn in an environment like this. Sure their formal education isnÂ’t the greatest in the world, but their education in life cannot be matched. I never met more polite, outgoing, happy, and accommodating children as those here and hope as the western influence grows in Fiji their rearing is complimentary to the new things they will learn.

image from http://vaportrail.typepad.com/.a/6a010536d5c24d970c01310f56a570970c-pi

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