Unexpectedly the internet has returned to Kovol! So we get to fill you in on our first week back after our Australia trip.
I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to going back into Kovol. You’d think that the excitement of getting to go back and start with language learning would outweigh the downsides of bush living, but that wasn’t the case! Waking up on the morning and preparing to jump on the helicopter felt more a chore than a new adventure, but here we are!
Our first week back in Kovol has reminded us of how depressing the weather can be here! We almost didn’t make it in because of the clouds and we’ve had to pull our fleeces, trousers and socks out to keep ourselves warm. Cairns was amazing, I LOVE the tropical weather but Kovol is far more temperate, it rains a lot and there’s often strong winds and fog. It’s certainly not a postcard destination when the weather is bad and after 2 weeks of straight heat in Cairns, it felt like it was always bad!
Our first night back there was a storm, wind blowing rain sideways where it ran down our front door and into the house. It was a reminder of all the little jobs that need to get done to get our house finished up! Installing the door sweep we bought in Australia was done shortly after that night. Now we have a strip of 4mm plywood nailed to the floor under the door acting as a barrier for water coming in, and the door sweep lifts over it and then closes past it with a rubber seal. Most water should run down the rubber and away, and any that does get in shouldn’t get past the 4mm plywood 🙂
We also returned to mould. The floor under our kitchen table, our bedroom wardrobe and all our beds and the bedding we left on were covered in growths of black and white mould. Sheets were changed straight away and beds were cleaned down. The plywood that supports our foam mattresses was a petri dish! Painting our beds with mould shield paint was bumped up the priority list! We’re finding that any untreated surface grows mould in a matter of weeks here! Clothes and sheets are always damp 🙁
Things were just as expected really, its why I wasn’t too keen on coming back, but we’ve made a decision to throw ourselves into full-time language study and only have Saturdays for painting and maintaining our house. That has been a huge relief and source of blessing! We didn’t move into Kovol because it was a nice place to be, we’re not here to live in a nice house and the full-time effort to build and prepare our house has been keeping our attention on all these difficult and negative parts of lif here
This week we made a start with language learning and it has been an immense joy. We love language learning, the sun even seems to have come out for it! So far we’ve not strayed too far from our houses as we have so many visitors, and it’s been great to plan out what we want language we want to get in a day, hear it, record it, process it into our computers and then study it later. We’ve been getting into the basic routine of plan, participate, process practise and the Kovol people have been delighted to see us get stuck in.
We’re working on collecting some basic nouns and this is going pretty well. I find it pretty easy to learn and retain ‘this is a hammer’, ‘this is a pineapple’. I’m also working on getting some practical expressions like “what is that?”, “I’m going home now” etc, and this is much harder! Whereas learning nouns I understand everything, with the PEs (Practical expressions) they’re memorized to be used in my daily life. The problem I’m finding is that if you get a single syllable wrong or place the emphasis in the wrong place and people look at you like you’re talking gibberish!
Here’s one I’ve been working on. If someone says ‘ya tebe’ which means “you go” (as in see you later) I’ve been trying to learn to respond with ‘ja vi egam bana gatabanim’, but no matter how many times I practice it on my own, when the opportunity comes to use it my mind is totally blank!
Likewise the first time I used ‘eng tol yagoba yanim’ (“I’m going to my house now”) even though I thought I said it right the whole group of guys looked at me like I was speaking gibberish. Turns out that the one I had learnt meant “I’m going down to my house”, and I needed a different one “I’m going up to my house” because we were down at the river at the time! Oh the joys of language learning.
Also we’re preparing for the big thank you meal we’re doing at the weekend. We started telling people to spread the word to their village that Saturday is the day and they should all come. Turns out we did it wrong and yesterday we had to have a big meeting where representatives came from each village so we could invite them on Saturday. The concern was that some people wouldn’t come because they thought our invitation through individuals was a rumour. The big meeting where everyone could ‘strong’ the talk was needed for there to be no doubt that Saturday was the day, a lone messenger for each village wasn’t going to cut it.
We’re really encouraged to start with language learning and be able to shift the home improvement projects to the back burner. Doing so has helped us to stop thinking so much about the challenges of living here and take a crack at the challenges of language learning, and that was something we were always looking forward to. While learning the phrases I’m working on right now seems impossible I know that if we keep putting the hours in day after day we’ll start to get it.