Out on break

We’re happy to report that the weather improved and we could fly out! The pilot was only an hour away from calling off the flight for the 2nd day in a row, and we heard that the following day was another terrible Kovol weather day, which left us very glad to be out!

Cloudy days

We made it, it’s break time! We’ve been limping along recently looking very much forward to a break. We’ve realised that we haven’t had a proper break for about a year because the last 2 times we were out of Kovol were “working breaks” where we mixed days off with conferences and workshops. The weather isn’t cooperating though and we’re unable to leave Kovol!

Christmas break

e took a week’s break for Christmas, and better late than never on Jan 16 it’s time to write about it! We spent Christmas in Kovol, attempting to hide in our house as much as possible to get away from “work” which is learning the Kovol language.

I say as much as possible because there is always a steady stream of opportunities for community engagement. For example, a friend came to us in the evening on the very first day of our break to report that a lady had given birth in the village, but that the baby wasn’t nursing and hadn’t been for a full day. This was concerning, but we didn’t think we could do anything for the little one and decided to wait till morning to check it out. We didn’t have formula we can give, and we couldn’t think of anything we could do, the only option was for the little one to work it out on their own.

Capable mid

It was finally time for our long overdue language test. Over a month ago or so we had arranged for this language test, but bad weather meant the helicopter couldn’t get in. This time around we had miserable weather again, but it opened up just enough for the helicopter to get in. The next 2 days were intense for our language consultants as they met with us and took us through our paces in language evaluations.

Story comparison

In preparation for our language test next week our language consultants asked us to prepare a little something. They asked us to speak a story into a recorder about an event we experienced together with a Kovol friend. We then need to ask the Kovol friend to tell the same story, write them both down and be ready to compare them.

Saturday morning garden work

A couple of days ago I wandered into our village intending to arrange for someone to take me to their garden to spend some time together. I wanted to get out of the confines of the village, but not too far! The Kovol people have learned that we white people don’t hike so well! Amon agreed to take me to her garden close by, just 10 minutes away. I had asked to go on Monday, having arranged for Steve to teach Oscar that day. But then on Friday Amon came by and said she wanted to go to her garden the next morning. Meaning Saturday, our day off. Of course, I said I would come though.

Office time

As language learners, time spent working on our computers processing language material is necessary, but we make sure it’s not the only thing we do. With that in mind Monday was a hike out to Kumus, a village about an hour and a half away. I don’t look forward to these big hikes that much, but whenever I do them it’s very refreshing to get away from the 4 walls of our house and experience the rainforest. We are in the “big bush”, as we say in the Kovol language. We are in a remote patch of rainforest, yet it’s so easy to get into the mindset of just grinding out the language learning hours week after week and failing to take it in. I can easily end up seeing the 4 walls of my office all the time and miss the whole rainforest thing.

The death adder

I went over to Kavaluku and borrowed his machete thinking that I’d cut the snake’s head off just in case it still had some life in it! I raised the machete and swung and struck true, catching it full force on its skull. At that point, I realised it was very much a live snake as it thrashed around! I find it amazing that I didn’t miss my mark, my aim is usually terrible!

Garden trip

Gerdine is quite busy most of the time looking after Oscar, Alice and Millie. We don’t have any baby sitters on hand and so one of us is always busy with them. When I’m spending my day learning language that leaves Gerdine trying to get home-school done with Oscar while simultaneously looking after two 2-year-olds! It’s no surprise then that her language ability hasn’t improved as much as my own. What’s great though is that she’s found the motivation again and wants to push to achieve the next level in speaking ability in the Kovol language for our next check.