Houses take a battering in windy season. There are nights lying awake hearing the howling wind and feeling it shake our house about. It’s easy to imagine our roofing peeling away and the wind and rain coming inside… especially since that actually happened to Nate’s house over in our neighbouring tribe 🙂
If the wind gives us cause for concern I’m sure you can imagine how much worse it is when your roof is made of leaves! One of our friends’ roof was left with all kinds of holes and storm damage which needed fixing and we got to see how it was done.
First step is finding a sago tree and cutting the leaves up. These are nasty trees with 6 inch needlelike thorns which litter the ground; just imagine doing this job barefooted. The sago leaves are new to this area because the first sago trees were planted only 40 years or so ago . They typically grow in swampy places. Mountains here aren’t the ideal environment but their cactusy leaves are ‘orogul’ (or strong) and will last for 5 years or so.
We also head into the bush to find bamboo leaves – the traditional Kovol thatching material. We’re looking for leaves growing in the wild since our friend has used up the ones he planted. All the trees look the same to me and he finds it the height of amusement when I start cutting down a tree that looks like the one we’re after, but isn’t. Hilarious stuff apparently.
The next step is to fold 2 or 3 of them over a strip of bamboo and use bush rope to tie them on, making a roof panel. As with most things, we try our hand at it for 5 minutes before settling in to watch for a few hours while getting all the vocabulary we can.
We’re tying (tomaluminim) simob sog onto ologeb with an avanel. Or we’re sewing (sindinim) it on. I’d love to ask if tomaluminim is the same verb as luminim (to tie) which I’m familiar with — is that a prefix on the verb or a brand new verb? But such questions make no sense to our language helpers and so go into the mystery box. The mystery box is definitely the biggest of our mental boxes 🙂
Six or seven 2m panels is the day’s work. That should hold a little extra rain out for our friend.
Next up is planting yams over in Torokum which means hiking for an hour or so over to the new garden.
This is my third time doing this, and it’s the first time I’m allowed to mostly get on with helping. I say mostly because I still have someone taking me by the hand (sometimes literally) about half the time, but the other half they let me loose to be one of the guys. I get to shoot my stick in the ground, dig a hole, plant a yam and cover it up and move on.
It’s nice to be able to actually do a bit of work. Like I said the majority of our experience is that they let us have a go for 5 minutes to satisfy our curiosity, but then they tell us to sit down so we can do language. They want to honour our status and not get us too sweaty and dirty. It’s really nice that for once that’s not happening!
Torokum speaks the dialect we’re not learning and so there’s the normal frustration of being corrected for our dialect and not for our mistakes, but these guys aren’t demanding I speak their dialect so it’s a nice day.
I worked myself a bit too hard though and picked up a stomach bug at the weekend. It’s easy to forget how hard the tropical sicknesses can hit you if you let yourself get run down. 3 days of lying down, expelling things and not eating. Yuck.
Take a break before you break — still working on that one.
Turns out pushing to babysit our coworkers’ kids and still get a full week’s work in is a false economy. The hours I made up don’t balance out 3 1/2 sick days. Less is more apparently.
We saw a child yesterday at one of our medical times with the worst sore I have ever seen. A 2-year-old child has a gaping, infected hole under their armpit. My stomach hasn’t recovered from seeing it so I won’t show it here. It needs hospital treatment as soon as possible. We have a resupply flight coming in on Monday and it’s possible to get at least the child and one parent onto the return flight which can take a detour to Madang to drop them off. A few things need to line up for it to be possible. Please be praying for this little boy and his family as they’ve hiked back to their village to prepare to go out to town.