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Dispatches from the Vanuatu Bush

Andrew Procyk

Noble Kava
Kava Vendor
Out of the bush for just a couple days.  Yesterday was the first day in a couple weeks with net access, allowing me to get back into contact with my much loved and missed family back in the US. But, within 48 hours, back to my family in the bush.  Lots to report.  Was going to be away for a longer singular stretch, but the ceremony I was invited to was delayed due to the death of a great chief, Lini, who will be missed by all who knew him - so preparations were pushed back.  This means I get a break in the middle of things rather than at the end, as I had to come in to town for some period of time  to take care of the "business" side of things for a couple days.

It is a mixed blessing because it gives me the chance to restock my suitcase with much needed medical supplies. On the day I was to leave, I was delayed as a brother in the village was having severe asthma problems. Luckily (or unluckily?) I have health problems of my own, and whilst not in the medical supply I brought to the village, I had a Salbutamol inhaler, which was promptly fetched and handed over.  What we in the west take for granted!  Upon getting to town, I notice the inhalers are a mere $5usd each, and my suitcase is now full of them, and other OTC meds (again).

On much happier notes, I have been drinking masticated kava almost nightly, and yes, all it takes is 2 shells to have a hard time finding your way back to the hut. I have also had unprecedented access to not only be present - but have actually had the permission of chiefs -  to film various ceremonies!

I also had the honor of attending a ceremony in what will probably be the best known village to most of you - Lamakara.  chief Isaac Wan invited the whole island to the dedication of the newly built John Frum Senta for the preservation of kastom in ALL local villages.  I have video of his full dedication!  Imagine how warm my heart felt when I arrived and saw him wearing the USMC dress uniform that I donated to him last year when I was at this village!  I will likely not be able to post much video or even stills until I get back to the states with a better/faster connection, but it has been an experience. 

Until then, keep drinking the grog. To my US family, I miss you very dearly.  I will see you in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile - time for a hot bath, which I will never take for granted again! 

Alez! Lukim you!


Below: Me chewing kava at to be squeezed at the nakamal with villagers, me with Chief Isaac proudly wearing the Dress Coat donated the prior year, Chief Isaac at the dedication of the center for kastom village culture, and the latter part of the 5km walk to Lamakara from my "home" village across the windswept volcanic ash plain.

Any yes, for the record, I almost always wear guayabera shirts - and was even married wearing one!  ;-)