Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making 'gogii' with a giant mortar and pestle

One of the traditional Teop dishes is called 'gogii'. They can make it with cassava or other root crops, but when we were there, they made it with cooking bananas (not sweet bananas). Firstly they peeled and boiled the bananas, then they put them into something which is like a massive mortar and pestle, and they smash the banana up. I guess you could probably do the same thing in a pot with a potato masher. Here's a picture of me having a go at it:

This is what it looks like inside the big mortar type thing:

After you have smashed the bananas, you twist the stick (or pestle) around and hope that the mashed bananas will stick to it. That didn't always happen even for the local girls. Here is a girl who managed to do it successfully:

You take the stick with the banana on it to a man, and you get the rest of the banana out of the thing with your hands and take it to him, and he rolls it into balls. It is traditional custom for the man to do this part of the preparation, but women can do it if there is no man around.

Then the man puts balls together into banana leaves and they put coconut cream in with the banana balls.

Then they fold the banana leaves to wrap it all up, and they cook it overnight. In the morning it is ready to eat, and this is what it looked like:

It tasted good too, especially the coconut cream taste that went through it all. We didn't try a cassava version of gogii, but I think that I'd probably like it better than the banana version. Cooking bananas aren't all that exciting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Namatoa – An amazing villageǃ

While we spent most of our time in the Teop area in one village at the coast, one time we travelled up the mountain and stayed in Namatoa village for two nights. It took us 4 hours to walk up the mountain, but apparently the Namatoa villagers can do it in 1½-2 hoursǃ

Namatoa is a fairly big village in seemingly the middle of nowhere. It does have a road that goes up the mountain to it, but it is in terrible condition. We walked along the road, and its condition even made walking difficult, but they still somehow manage to get vehicles up there when it's not too wetǃ

Namatoa has spectacular ocean views. In this photo, the land that you can see in the distance is Buka Island:

Another view from Namatoa, with some closer land in sight:

The views aren't the most amazing thing about Namatoa though. The most amazing thing is that it has a plumbed water supplyǃ The toilet we used flushed like normal, with the press of a button, and there was even a little sink for washing your hands in the toilet outhouse. There were also showers where you turn a tap on and water comes down from above. It was really nice to have a normal shower, rather than tipping water from a bucket over me. Here's a photo of the shower we used, hope you can see the pipe clearly.

On the other hand, the floor of the shower wasn't all that spectacular...

At one stage, the village must have been even more amazing, with an electricity supply. There are electricity poles and wires going throughout the village, but they have not been functioning for a very long time. In this photo you can see some of the village houses and an electricity pole and wire.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When you feel cold, have a cold shower to make you feel warm

This is a strange bit of logic that the people up the mountain at Namatoa (where it's a bit cooler) were telling me. It basically went like this: "If you feel cold, wash in the cold water, it will was the cold off your skin and you will feel warm". That really doesn't make sense to me, but the people seem to think it works. They say things like "I'm feeling cold, so I'm going to have a cold shower to make me feel warm". Of course, having a hot shower isn't an option since they don't have hot water services. I would think of having a hot shower when I am cold to heat me up, rather than a cold shower.

Another strange thing is: at Buka airport, there is a sign that says 'Sugaman welcomes you to Bougainville' (Sugaman = Sugarman) and then underneath that, it says something like 'Avoid sik suga' (ie. avoid diabetes). So here we have the Sugarman welcoming us to Bougainville and then we are told that we need to avoid getting the sugar sickness (diabetes). I can't quite figure out the logic in that either. I would think of the Sugarman as being a nice man who gives you sugar which could lead to diabetes (given that you have the other risk factors too), so why would he be telling you to avoid diabetes? Maybe he's nice enough to withold sugar from you too, if you are at risk of diabetes.

Anyway, early next week I will be without a computer for a few days and once I am set up again with my computer, I will put up some more posts about my time at Teop and in Bougainville.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

People love photos!

Well, I am back from our trip to the Teop language area and we had a good time there. We were based in one village most of the time, but we were able to visit 4 other villages and stayed overnight at two of them.
I always take my photo album with me to villages. People love looking at the photos and it is a good conversation starter too. They also love having their photos taken and looking at them on the camera. The photos above show people looking at either my photo album or a photo on my camera during this trip to the Teop area. You can see one kid noticed the camera when I took the photo and is looking directly at it instead of the photo album!