For the 6th time this month, I found myself all bent over, my hair dangling down in front of me in a cloud of talcum powder dust. I was trying my best to soak up the grease pit my hair had now become. A trick I had learned way back in my gymnastic days. But unfortunately my greasy hair was the least of my dramas. It had been two days since the last sheet of toilet paper had been used and I was busting for a number two !
I just couldn’t hold on any longer and the toilet paper gods had not delivered me a soft roll of 2ply yet. I was about to go to the dark side, the stiff piece of newspaper that now hung so proudly on the toilet roll holder was about to get up close and personal with me.
People ask me a lot, “whats it like to live in a village” . Hold on to your toilet paper, ladies, I am about to give you ,the not so glamorous village life.
The mornings always start with you peeling yourself from the woven pandanus mat. Over night somehow the mat managed to weave its way into your skin. My hip bones ache from grinding against the floor boards all night, my whole body stiff from the lack of soft, body engulfing memory foam mattress. My neck stuck on some weird angle from trying to sleep on my arm all night.
Once I have removed the mat from under my skin, I move towards the kitchen, hobbling like an arthritic man. layed out on the floor is a pile of cassava as high as the roof. There is no salt, no pepper and definitely no tomato sauce. The cassava is cold, after sitting out all night and bland, because how tasty can a root be ?
The girls and I forcefully eat our cassava and hope for the best. Every meal is fueled with adrenalin, “will I get food poisoning ? is this the meal that will see me curled on the bathroom floor , begging for mercy ?”
With a belly full I trudge off down the highway for several sessions of AeroGym, while I walk, I dream off chocolate and big fat juicy chicken from coles and pray that I don’t catch the green snotty nose of the child who’s hand I hold.
After all this walking and excersise under the deadly fijian sun, its time for a bath. The water out in the villages how ever doesn’t flow freely. Most days the water only runs between 9am-11am. So if you need to go to the toilet at 11;15am, your little delivery is going to float about all day. There is no hot water, so bath time becomes an intricate dance. You throw the bucket of water over your head, your body prancing from side to side as the cold water shocks the nervous system, little yelps, slip from your mouth and the occasional explicit as the second bucket flows over your shoulders. Your now well and truly invigorated and jogging fastly on the spot, trying to prevent hypothermia from setting in. Have you ever seen a naked woman jogging in the shower ? it’s not a pretty site for all those who wonder.
All this excessive energy burning is then rewarded by another plate of cassava and some tinned mackerel. followed by one of many nanna naps, only to be awoken by your exploding bladder, knowing the newspaper is waiting for you again.
So why would I put myself and my girls through this every week ? We are, as far as I am aware, mentally stable, forgetful yes, since I still haven’t managed to remember to buy toilet paper and we have lived here for over a year and a half, but mentally insane , no…..
Village life is something that is so incredible that I can’t leave. While we all sit around a table cloth layed out on the floor eating our cassava we share stories. For hours the family just sit around chatting away, while passer by’s drop in for a chat. There are no fences or boundaries , everybody is welcome in everybody’s home and you can drop in anytime and tea will be served.
Kids runs freely through the village chasing chickens or rolling tyres along the grass, all happily playing together. Stress is something that is non existent. Families all help out and the community spirit thrives.
For this reason we stay, for this reason we happily sacrifice ourselves to the newspaper. Materialism and judgement doesn’t exist out here. Everybody is equal and everybody is loved, why would you ever leave ?