Saturday, August 4, 2012
Today was officially the happiest day of my life...until tomorrow. I survived a heart attack this morning. I was sitting at the kitchen table, minding my own business, waiting for the bell for mass, when I saw two rats clatter across the kitchen and hide behind the refrigerator. I jumped on the chair for safety, then thought it was a better idea to run outside. After this incident the wonderful parts of the day kicked in.
Bishop drove us to market at 7:30. I jumped out of the pickup when I spotted pineapples were being unloaded at the wharf. There were great pickings this morning since Saturday is a huge market day. Cayla and I got cucumbers, peppers, and bananas to round out the food shopping. We then moved on to the jewelry table. Angela, a woman from the parish, makes the most beautiful shell bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. We cleaned out her display with gifts for ourselves, family, and friends. We got back to Bishop Chris’ truck and he had bought casava chips for us. They blow potato chips away, so Cayla and I happily munched on them on the ride home. Back at the house, we made a CD for Richard to add to the gifts we bought for his birthday. He is very talented with music, so we gave him a taste of our American jams. At 10:30, it was picnic time.
Fr. Moses and Bishop Chris drove two truckloads of people to SeaSound Resort. Thirty of us proved heavy cargo for the vehicles, but we survived the trip. SeaSound is a very small resort with a few huts and a magnificent beach. We went in the water immediately. Shoes are necessary in the water because coral reef lines the bottom. The snorkeling was incredible. We all shared snorkels, taking turns paddling around. The best part of all was I FOUND NEMO! After a little while, the swimmers were rounded up for lunch. We had chili taio (tuna) sandwiches, cucumber, pineapple, and I was privileged to sip a Solbrew, the official beer of the Solomons. Bishop Chris got us up and moving after lunch for a boys vs. girls soccer game. We were all laughing, falling, and getting some serious sand in our bathing suits. Another long swim in the ocean was much needed after the game. The beach was picture perfect, and I was so happy to spend time with my new friends (some double as my students). I decided to go in to shore after I got my fill of salt water. A few girls, led by Christina, and Joe taught us their village dance. Sr. Loretta had the music playing, and Cayla and I entertained the crew with our own rendition of the dance. We picked it up by the time we left. Cayla was hilarious and will be giving up her dreams of PA school and instead auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance.
Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, Bishop told us we were going to the Fiu River for a “drive-in” car wash. Car wash = bridge jumping. At this point I think I was floating with happiness. We all helped wash down the truck, and then got to play. I had time to jump off four times with different people every jump. My Fiu experiences have confirmed that if someone told me to jump off a bridge, I would most definitely do it. In the back of the girls truck, driven by Fr. Moses, we sang songs the whole way home. After a quick change out of wet bathing suits and shirts, we gathered in the new dining room hut for birthday festivities. Richard’s friends brought out the cake and had sparklers. Richard blew out the candles for his 19th birthday. Everyone inhaled their delicious treat. Several people had gifts for the birthday boy, which all came with a short speech. Richard opened his presents, and I think he was very happy. Cayla and I were excited because we bought him a backpack, soccer ball, and pack of chocolate chip cookies. Today we noticed that he was using an old, pink, Disney princess backpack. I think the new blue Nike is a good upgrade.
The next few hours we spent around the house, trying to process how unreal the day had been. After evening prayer we ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches and papaya for dinner. Saturdays are entertainment night at Aligegeo. The theme was island dances, so students from the same villages present their village dances. Patrick picked up Cayla and me when the show was about to begin. We sat down next to Sr. Loretta to watch the performances, and she informed us that we would be doing the dance we learned earlier for the entire school. When in Solomons, right? So Cayla and I were led out back to join our new dance crew. We paraded in to music and then did the entire village dance with the group. I think the students will be amused for the next week. We got a pretty big reaction from the crowd - I’m going to assume it was because we were naturals. We actually remembered how to do everything, and Agatha told us we held our own. Our act was followed by many more traditional dances by both boys and girls.
Soon it was time to venture back home. Sr. Loretta, Cayla, and I rehydrated and enjoyed a slice of papaya. It is so fortunate that Cayla and I have the opportunity to be so immersed in the life here. Bishop Chris and the sisters have helped us become involved in the culture and day to day activities. A few more shades of tan, and I might pass as a local...I’ll keep on dreaming.