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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Weekend in the Life of My Host Family

Hello, friends and family! It has been far too long since I've blogged, and for that I apologize. I have many things to share, so be on the lookout for about a post a week this next month or two!

Back to my original intention of this post - sharing a little bit about a normal weekend at my host family! About once a month, I find my way to the other side of Pohnpei and spend a weekend with my host parents, host siblings, and lots of host nieces and nephews. Every time I visit there are always a few new faces around. I'm never quite sure how they're related, but I just roll with it and smile.

[To get to my host family I go from Kolonia (right by the airport at the top of the map) all the way to Wone on the south side of the island.]

4:15 pm - Leave Kolonia to hitchhike to Wone. We'd never hitchhiked to our host family before, but Kristin and I had been itching to try it. So we packed our bags and just started walking.
4:47 pm - We get our first ride! Saed, a doctor teaching at the med school on-island, picks us up. We learn that he was born in Iran, raised in the US, and worked as a doctor in Belize and Mexico before coming here to teach about 6 months ago.
5:02 pm - Saed drops us off in Palikir. We start walking the shady, coconut tree lined road.
5:34 pm - Kristin's host family drives by and gives us a ride the rest of the way.
6:20 pm - I arrive at my host family to find all my family gone at a fundraiser, except one who stayed back in case I arrived. I grab my book, relax, and start reading!
9:30 pm - My host family arrives home from the fundraiser. They give me a local skirt they bought, as well as bags of mango and some leftover donuts.
10:00 pm - A very late dinner (normally we're all asleep by this time) of rice and spam, along with some good conversations with my Nono (host mom).
11:00 pm - bedtime. I have my own room here, where my family lays out a mat and some blankets for me to sleep on. The rest of the family spreads out in twos or threes and sleeps on mats in other rooms.

8:30 am - I'm the last one asleep in my house and Elora, my host niece, wakes me up.
9:00 am - Breakfast (rice, ramen, and papaya).
9:30 am - Hang out with Elora and her two cousins Jasmine and Natasha. We take pictures on their tablet and play Candy Crush and Fruit Slice (yes, even here in the villages!).
10:15 am - Walk to the river so the girls can swim. I can confidently say I'm very popular in the girl 6 - 11 category. They giggled and giggled at each other as we walked to the river and laughed as they sprayed each other with water. I couldn't help stealing glances at them as I read on the rocks, thinking about how good girl friends are the best, and feeling so thankful for mine.
10:45 am - Start walking back from the river. We run to Sarah (a PCV, Peace Corps Volunteer) who lives nearby. Sarah walks home with us and waits as I grab my things to go to the ocean to swim with her and some other volunteers. My Nono insists that Elora (age 9) comes with me as my bodyguard (even though I'm going to be out with four other adult volunteers). I roll with it.
11:30 am - Sarah, Elora, and I arrive at Kristin's host family, where Kristin, Aidee (PCV), and Erin (PCV) are hanging out.
12:05 pm - We all walk up the hill to Kristin's house, where her host mom has made rice and ramen for lunch.
12:41 pm - Walk to Rohi. Stop at Aidee's host family so she can grab something, add another child to our group so Elora isn't alone, and walk.
1:51 pm - Arrive at a quiet bit of ocean surrounded by mangrove trees (no sandy white beaches on this island!) and happily jump in.
3:05 pm - Leave the water to trek back to Aidee's house.
3:25 pm - Shower in the river at Aidee's. The cold, crisp water of this shady river was a little slice of heaven after setting all sweaty walking again.
3:45 pm - Enjoy some drinking coconuts that Aidee's mom prepared for us (using the machete herself to open them, of course).
4:14 pm - Start the walk back to my host family, slowly saying goodbye as people reach their houses.
5:01 pm - Elora and I say goodbye to Erin, the last PCV still walking, and veer off the main road to our house.
5:15 pm - Changes clothes, put my wet clothes on the line to dry, plop in front of the fan, and read.
8:00 pm - My Nono summons me to the table for dinner (rice, spam, bananas, taro, and breadfruit). Start planning my parent's visit with my host dad.
8:30 pm - Wash my face and brush my teeth. Finish the 370-page book I was only about 50 pages into yesterday.
9:02 pm - Elora and I listen to "Let it Go" on my iPod and have a nice sing-along moment before bed.
9:05 pm - Sleep!

8:30 am - Wake up, get ready for church.
9:00 am - Breakfast (rice and fried spam).
9:30 am - Church at the local parish. My host father is a deacon, so we live right next door to Christ the King Church. Father Dave, the Jesuit priest on island, came this Sunday to say Mass. He's in his 60s and is fluent in Pohnpeian!
10:45 am - Drive back to Kolonia with Father Dave after mass.

Every weekend in Wone is different and this one included a lot of excitement, walking, and spending time with friends. Combine that with plenty of time to read and some good conversations with my family and I was a happy camper!