Monday, September 29, 2008

I got sick!!

After dinner on Wednesday night my tummy felt a bit funny and I went to bed with a bucket – ‘just in case’ – but I didn’t really feel like I would vomit at that stage. Well, as I lay in bed, I gradually felt worse and I ended up having three vomiting sessions between 10pm and midnight. Each vomiting session consisted of several vomits. It was really horrible because I had nothing left in my stomach, but my body still wanted to bring something up. My roommate Sharon got up each time and looked after me, which was really nice.

On Thursday morning I had some vegemite on toast for breakfast with some water and about 5 minutes after I finished it, I brought it all back up again! I also had diarrhoea throughout this whole period too. I stayed in bed on Thursday and didn’t eat anything else all day, but I had some sweet drinks and kept them down. I felt a bit weak and miserable most of the day, but by about 6pm I felt a lot better.

I was weak and easily exhausted on Friday, but I was well enough to go to class and enjoy my birthday. On Saturday morning I didn’t feel the greatest, but I managed to struggle through a trip to town. I didn’t really eat much all day until dinner, when I had a small meal. I feel a lot better now, but I think I got hit pretty bad with the virus; others who had it had a quicker recovery.

This virus has affected many of us at POC. It started on Monday last week when several of the kids got sick and were vomiting, then more got sick on Tuesday and a few more on Wednesday. Nearly all the kids got it. Then it started going through the adults beginning on Wednesday. Every day we hear about someone else who has come down with it. Nearly everyone has had it now. Those who haven't are in the minority.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bread and cheese

Last Friday we learnt how to bake bread from scratch. I baked a large loaf and a small loaf and added my personal touches to them (see picture below)! I’m all for simplicity and it seems too much like hard work for me to go to the effort of baking bread in the village, so I’m happy to live without it.

On the other hand, I can’t live without cheese! How do you have cheese in a village where there is no electricity or fridges?...Well, there is this wonderful invention we call ‘boxed cheese’ which doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It is not real cheese though – it is processed cheese and it comes wrapped in foil and in a cardboard box. However it is REALLY expensive! It is about $4 for 250g of cheese.

In fact most Western food is expensive, so you have to make decisions about what you are willing to give up and what you can’t live without. I’m won’t be over-indulging in cheese, that’s for sure! I’ll be making it last as long as I can.

This is the small loaf that I made in our bread baking class. It has the ‘Julie’ touch to it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Independence Day

Yesterday was Independence day and we attended the local celebrations, which were just a five minute walk away. There was a volleyball competition which had been going on over several days, plus there were many dances and items. There was also a lot of standing around in the hot sun waiting for something to happen!

I’ll let the pictures tell the story now…

Monday, September 15, 2008

Don’t burn the house down!!

This weekend was the first time we cooked/prepared all our meals in our haus kuk. Sara and I decided to only cook dinner and have an easy breakfast and lunch. I’m having muesli for all my weekend breakfasts, lunches will vary, but on Saturday I had a cheese and tomato sandwich – the first one I’ve had since I’ve been here!

We had stir-fry for dinner (my specialty!) and my famous banana crumble for dessert, cooked over the fire – it turned out well.

Anyway, now for the exciting part! I used the kerosene stove to prepare part of the banana crumble and turned it off when I had finished. After I cut up the vegies, I was ready to boil them, so I turned the kerosene stove on again and tried to light it. I had left some pressure in it from before, so too much kerosene was coming through and I had this massive flame coming up from the stove. It was getting really high and the flames were licking the plastic tarp covering. It was rather scary! I ended up getting some oven gloves and getting it out of the hauk kuk, tipped over on the ground and it managed to die. So that was a bit of an ordeal.

I had a second attempt, this time with the stove outside the haus kuk and I still had the same problems and lack of success. Then I went and asked for help, which resolved the problem as he got it lit for me. The next day when I had to light it again, I managed okay, so hopefully I’ve got that sorted now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Haus kuks

A “haus kuk” is literally a house where you cook, or to put it more simply, a kitchen.

We each had to build ourselves a “haus kuk”. I worked with the other single girls to build one. The local men demonstrated how to build one and then we were let loose with our axes and machetes! We were given a bundle of wood and bamboo and we cut some wood to size and some was already the right size.

We built a table like a picnic table and we also made a bench for food preparation and for washing dishes.

We are going to be preparing all our weekend meals in our “haus kuks”, starting this weekend. It will help prepare us for our five weeks living in a village.

We will probably actually cook our food outside of our “haus kuks” so that they don’t get all smoky as we will be cooking over a fire. We will also have a kerosene stove to use.

We won’t have any refrigeration or modern appliances, so it will probably be pretty tricky to cook things that would normally be easy to cook.

The three of us standing in the “haus kuk” that we built:
Inside our “haus kuk”:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Communal living – Part two

We have all our meals together in a big dining hall during the week (weekends are different, more about that another time). When there are a lot of people eating meals there is a lot of preparation and cleaning needed also. We have a duty roster and on the current roster I have duties twice a day and four times on Wednesdays, but our roster will change soon.

When we have preparation duty in the kitchen, we often cut up some fruit and heat up and serve any hot food. In the dining room we set the tables, or if we are cleaning, we clear them and wipe them down. Kitchen clean up is pretty self-explanatory, mostly washing dishes. We only have duties for breakfast and dinner, at lunch time the staff work as we have classes to go to.

I have a new room-mate now too! The girl from New Zealand came and she moved into my room and the other girl moved out into the spare room.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Communal living – Part one

I am in a house currently with 3 other girls - two in each bedroom. The girl I am sharing a room with has just finished high school at Ukarumpa and is on staff helping out with the kids. The other two girls are both attending the course with me. We are all single girls. There is another single girl coming from New Zealand on Monday and she will be in another room in our house.

The families are over in the dorms and we are a bit away from them, which is not great for building relationships with them, but we are away from all the noise of the children and crying toddlers.

At the dorms they have to heat their water for showers and they have bucket showers, but we have a normal plumbed shower, so we are lucky!! We have a staff family that lives above us and we hear absolutely everything they say and do up there. It doesn't bother us too much though and we get a good night's sleep.

This is the house I am staying in:

This is my bed/bedroom:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pacific Orientation Course begins!

I am settling into things at the Pacific Orientation Course (POC). We have classes on the weekdays and are learning Tok Pisin, anthropology, medical things and practical skills. Once a week we go on a hike, which will progressively get more difficult each week, but we get to see some nice views.

We are also going swimming once a week. Many people have heard that we are required to swim one mile to pass the course, but it is not a requirement, we are just encouraged to swim as much as we are able and set our own goals.

The POC buildings are up a mountain near Madang, so we have beautiful views of the sea all around us. Here is one of the views we have: