Saturday, July 23, 2011
I meant to get this post up earlier!
I med is Pohnpeian for I am full. And here in Pohnpei I am just that. Full. All of the time, in every way a person can be full. Full of food, full of welcoming, full of laughter, full of hope, full of anticipation, full of happiness, most recently full of sakau, and yes full of sweat and rain too. It is now real. I am on the adventure of my life and I am loving every minute of it. This is only my second whole day here and the first where I am relatively functioning. After months of anticipation, hours of teaching observation, a half summer of goodbyes, a wonderful week with my West Coast family (whom without I would be quiet unprepared for this trip) and a grand total of 25 hours of flying, not including a whopping 11 ½ hours of lay over time, I AM FINALLY HERE! The beauty is mind blowing and the people are above and beyond amazing.
I could not ask for a better host family- everyone is so nice to me and they are great to hang out with. My host father has a very high title in the community, and everyone knows him- in fact he will run for governor in the next election! His wife is also very smart and they both speak English well. They run a sakau bar/market every night- people from town come and sit for hours and talk and drink sakau. To make Sakau they pound and grind the roots and some of the branches from a sakau plant, and squeeze the thick liquid out it. Then they add hibiscus. Today I watched Tommy, my 14-year- old host brother make sakau- it was beautiful. They put it inside long leaves and twist it tight so the cappuccino colored liquid drips down. It was so beautiful I had to videotape it. Last night I drank Sakau for the first time- only 1 cup but tonight Setim says I will drink 2 or 3. To be honest, I was a little hesitant but my host family makes it with clean water which is why many people come to their market. Sakau is a pepper with 14 natural painkillers and it makes your tongue numb, but you drink tiny sips and many people don’t swallow it but hold it in their mouths for a little and then spit it back out and take a “chaser”. A chaser includes water(spit it back out too), chocolate, chips, candies, unripe mango with salt and soy sauce- which is insanely bitter, pickled papaya- again hard to eat, or basically any food that is around. I can drink liquor without a chaser like a champ-but with sakau a chaser is absolutely a necessity the after taste is so strong and to be honest terrible. But it mellows you out, makes you very calm, and eventually very sleepy- it helps you sleep through the sounds of the jungle. I am very grateful that I get to experience such an important part of Pohnpeian culture so intimately.
I am the only volunteer placed outside of Kolonia for orientation, and I think this is quiet lucky because I am on a mountain with a view of the lagoon and cliffs. I am also on the side of the island that gets the good sunsets and from up here you can see the storms coming before they get here. It rained very hard my first day here, and Setim said that this means that the ancestors are happy I am here, if they were not it would not rain and the plants would suffer.
So far life is mao (good) on Pohnpei and I can’t wait to learn more about this awesome island!