Christmas in Northern Vanuatu, Day 15: A very full New Years Day

Monday, January 1st, 2018

This morning we start the new year off with a lazy morning, exerting the minimal effort required. We’re too tired/sick to attend church again. We do nothing until about 11am, when we’re invited to the chief’s house for lunch.

The chief's family prepared us a wonderful lunch buffet
I begrudgingly avoid the pineapple offered to me, as I now know it will burn my ailing throat like salt on an open wound, but instead enjoy the soup, cabbage, and yam offered at the buffet.

As Colleen and I enjoy our lunch with the chief’s family as well as some neighbors, a drunk man wanders in, carrying a nearly-empty bottle of vodka, stumbling around, completely hammered. The New Year may have been celebrated at 12am last night, but this man was still partying hard. The adults uncomfortably laugh and carefully watch as their young children are confused by the entire situation.

Colleen and her host parents with a giant helping of laplap sorsor

We walk back to Colleen’s and laze around for a while, as I enjoy laying on the ground and staring up at inside of the roof of Colleen’s house. Around 1pm, a mere 1.5 hours after we just ate loads of food, we’re invited by her host parents to eat the Malekula signature dish, laplap sorsor. This laplap is covered heavily with coconut milk in the middle, creating a sort of pool. Those dining will rip off the outer edges of the laplap and dip them in the center, making the dish more communal than your run-of-the-mill laplap.

Of course I’m not hungry, both because I am full from eating lunch under 2 hours ago and because I am still sick and have zero appetite. I am tired, sick, and frustrated at needing to continually explain to people how I am not hungry, and then hearing all the (wrong) reasons as to why I can’t eat. They keep pushing food on me, like mashed up manioc is going to cure my flu.

Brownies baking on the fire
Later in the afternoon, Colleen and I have enough energy to make brownies. Colleen had been wanting me to teach her how to bake some things, so here was our chance. We originally wanted to make a chocolate chip cookie, which requires brown sugar. Colleen knows her village has brown sugar, and some neighbors go to fetch some for her. They return with raw, granulated sugar, which is unfortunately not what we want, so we instead decide to make brownies.

As our brownies bake, we sit on the stoop of Colleen’s kitchen and watch as Bennett, a neighborhood kid, attempts to bathe in the 2-foot tall faucet on her compound. It involves lots of awkward crouching to get water on his head, but in the end I think he got pretty clean. It was like a combination of yoga AND bathing, so it was a two-for-one healthy activity.

Colleen holds her kitten, Darwin, and finally gets a better look at its genitalia. After thinking it’s been a girl all this time, she realizes it’s a boy, with his tiny little kitty penis jutting out.

We enjoy some freshly-baked brownies before we decide we should probably eat the avocadoes we bought. We make a simple salad for dinner by roasting some tomatoes, garlic and onions over the fire and pouring them on top of the sliced avocadoes with a generous sprinkling of cracked pepper and salt.

After spending the day completely bloated with food from dawn until dusk, it was time to go to sleep.