Monday, 29 August 2011

Almost half way...

There is a new principal at KIT, where Pete works. He also has a new trainee and is pretty busy with starting and finishing different projects.
Nicky’s role at KPC has changed. She's no longer with YCL (youth centre) and RAK (women's centre). The Project Office caught on that there was an imatang (white person) about and decided they needed a native English speaker to write funding proposals in English to donors, so they snatched her up with a letter addressed to Mrs Nicole Peter (here the woman takes the first name of her husband as her surnam when married). The letter said she would be 'escorted' to her new office. It's funny how subtleties in English can make friendly directions to a new job sound as though she's in trouble.
A couple of weeks ago we went to a dinner at the Australian High Commission to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Australian Volunteers International (AVI) and 29 years in Kiribati. It is nice to be acknowledged as volunteers every now and then. They played the DVD we starred in that has been made on volunteers in Kiribati (we are yet to receive a copy, so don't bother asking for one). President of Kiribati Anote Tong was expected as a guest, and eventually turned up very late after being stuck at sea coming in by boat from another island. He sat a couple of rows in front of us and watched our DVD with everyone else. There was a 2nd screening especially for him- everyone else had already watched it before he turned up. Surprisingly he didn't ask us for autographs afterwards. He must have been too busy talking with AusAID and AVI staff to get to us. He did a great speech acknowledging the work volunteers do in Kiribati. It was a bit surreal sitting so close to a country's President and toasting moimotos (new coconuts) while wearing casual clothing and thongs (that's 'flip-flops' for non-Australian readers).

At the airport with Bruce.
No, Nicky isn't wearing maternity clothing- it is KPC clothing, popular in Kiribati.
Pete's dad Bruce came to visit us for a week, arriving from cooler Fiji in a jumper, shoes and socks. He came, he saw and he conquered Kiribati. He told everyone the same joke that at least now they will know where Pete got his good looks. And high 5'ed about a 1,000 locals to great applause. He certainly left a mark. It was great to have him here to see where we're living and working this year and to spend some quality time together. We like having visitors... 

At Teirio with friends
We took Bruce to Teirio (where we went with Nicky's parents) with some other ex pat friends for the weekend. NB: One of the only few photos of Pete's hair when dreaded... Discussed below. 
Bruce with his buia. These line the beach front at Teirio, so everyone gets a view and breeze.
Bruce seemed a bit put off at first by the out-door living accommodation in buias at Teirio, local-style sleeping quarters. He soon realised that they're great for air flow- very suitable for living in coastal Kiribati. We really enjoyed the snorkelling at Teirio and in the lagoon of Abaiang (the island Teirio is part of). This time a few of us went out further into the lagoon on a boat to snorkel. Someone asked if there would be sharks and we were a little concerned by the response- “No, there won’t be sharks, but there are often barracuda in this passage”. Nicky didn't previously know that barracuda (long fish with sharp teeth) are fairly viscious, and she kept referring to them as barramundi (much less scary). Thankfully, we didn't see any. However, we did see a few big sea turtles right underneath us- that was exciting! The boat engine konked out a few times on the way back to shore, which was a little worrying. The other boat of spear fishermen who were out there with us came to the rescue a few times thanks to some big waving hundreds of metres away. The boat ride home to Tarawa was a very bumpy ride- every bump jarred through our bodies to our heads. Nicky recommends some extra support up top for the ladies if heading out on a boat in the open sea.

Pheobe and Iota having a go and knotting Pete's hair into dreads
Pete got dread locks done by a hairdresser in Fiji, only to find a couple of weeks later than they didn't hold well. Nicky and some friends tried again, but again, they didn't hold. His curls are stubborn.

Peter has suddenly been getting into running. Every other day he runs to Marys Hotel and back, which is a few kms each way. We think 6-7km each run. The dreads fell out so he has massive afro that bounces as he jogs. Nicky has slacked off with her running, generally only going once a week. Her "running" involves running between some light posts and walking between others for a bit of a break. It is more of a social occasion than fitness.

The party girl, dressed in pink with about 20 hair clips
 We went on Saturday to what we call a "period party". In Aus, you would think we're referring to a party where people dress up in costumes from the 1800s. Here, we're referring to the celebration of a teenage girl's first menstruation. Mum and Dad, thank you for never throwing a party for me for this stage in life. I would have been humiliated. Here it is the norm, to celebrate entry into womanhood. The girl's proud mother is a colleage of Nicky's, so we were invited as friends and honorary imatangs. It was held at her house. It was our first time inside a Kiribati household. The guests were mostly family from the village. Due to difficulties getting a bus, and then having to get one going the wrong direction (adding 20 minutes to the trip), we were about an hour late to the party. All the guests were waiting for us. Oops. When we eventually got there, we were seated on a mat with the mother, as VIPs. There were some speeches, then lunch. After lunch, the little girl shown below came and did a couple of dances for us. The dancing was a combination of traditional Kiribati dancing and Beyone's hip thrusting. We werent' sure what to think of that, but she was certainly a good, confident dancer. 
One the performance was over, we were asked to get up for 3 dances. This is always the most awkward time of a party, with us doing a bop/twist sort of dance while the whole room watches us and our partners. You shouldn't look at your partner when you dance in Kiribati, or they'll think you're keen on them, so we looked around everywhere except for at our partner. After the dancing was over, the party was over, so we went home.
The period party entertainer

1 comment:

  1. Bula Nicole and Peter
    Good to hear all the news.
    Keep up the good work, enjoy the rich culture and wonderful people, thanks again for your support while we were in Kiribati
    Love from Peter and Wendy