Peace Corps Day

Today is Peace Corps Day. I think I can safely say that I wouldn't be here in Katherine if I hadn't joined the Peace Corps. I can't pretend (nor would I want to) that my experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer were all playing games with beautiful children and singing kum-ba-ya; in fact, some of my life's most difficult days occured during my Peace Corps days, but so did some of my most exalted days. I learned from both.

My time living and working overseas as a PCV profoundly affected who I am today: I am more flexible, more thoughtful, less reactive, more comfortable with ambiguity and complexity than I was before, and more willing to risk being uncomfortable(emotionally and physically). I may not yet be where I'd like to be with all of those qualities and maybe they would have come with age anyway, but I attribute much of who and how I am to having lived and worked among people who are more typical of the world's population than those I had previously lived and worked with.

Most people in the world don't have indoor plumbing or electricity; it's good to learn not to take those things for granted. Many (most?) cultures have communication styles that are much less direct than the straight-talking-let-it-all-hang-out ideals of my upbringing. It was good to witness the very long process of consensus decision making at staff meetings in the Solomons. Many (most?) cultures place more of an emphasis on relationships than on time, and I'm glad I learned how to go into a shop in Eritrea and not worry about how long it was going to take to get what I needed and I'm glad I learned to sit for hours, drinking coffee or tea, talking or not talking, passing time, not killing it, not worried about what I should be accomplishing.

So, if you've thought of joining the Peace Corps, find out more. It's not perfect by any means (don't forget that it's part of a big bureaucracy, part of the gummint), but it's really one of the easiest ways to actually live and work in a remote location in an industrially undeveloped or developing country.

I just read an interesting article on PeaceCorpsOnline about the connection between corn farming and malaria; I quote: An Ethiopian colleague of Kebede had found that the larvae of the mosquito that carries malaria had a survival rate of 93 percent when it fed on maize pollen, as opposed to a survival rate of about 13 percent when it fed on other possible food sources. Furthermore, adult mosquitoes raised on maize pollen had uncharacteristically large wingspans and long life spans. Read the whole article here.

Happy Birthday today to Laurie N!
Happy Birthday tomorrow to my brother Forest!
It's amazing how that seven year age difference just shrinks down to nothing in adulthood (at least it does from my end, but maybe I will always seem "old" to you...).

Just a Few Random Notes

I'm including a few recent pictures below from around Katherine.

I will be attending the Kriol Awareness Course at the Language Centre Thursday and Friday all day, which I'm quite looking forward to. I wish there were an actual language course where I could learn and practice using Kriol, but unfortunately there's not.

I know some of you are wondering why my pictures do not include pictures of people from the communities we've visited or even any pictures of indigenous people around town. Maybe you figured it out: Aboriginal people in general are leery about having their picture taken and also pictures taken of sacred sites, etc. Although I'd like to share my visual experiences with you, so much has already been taken from these indigenous people that I feel it's especially important to respect their rights to their own images. I took some pictures of the fruit from our bush walk, but since the local teacher was holding the fruit, I decided not to post it without asking her permission.

I forgot to mention that there was wild passionfruit growing in the bush too. The fruit was less than an inch in diameter, but sweet inside.

That's all for a few days! I do appreciate your comments, as they let me know that people are indeed reading this log.

Looking west at the pedestrian (old railway) bridge over the Katherine River from the Stuart Highway bridge. You can see the river meter marks on one of the supports on the railway bridge. Posted by Hello

Looking up-river (east) from the Stuart Highway bridge over Katherine River. Posted by Hello

Justin in the spear grass near the river. Posted by Hello

Chook Butchering Sunday

The chooks began to lose popularity at the Northside Linguist Homestead when they were revealed to be mostly roosters. The three roosters were designated "dinner" and R called us up to help out. As a non-meateater, my role was to document the event, as well as to read aloud each step from the library book about chook butchering. R & Justin did the actual killing, which was not taken lightly by either of them.

One of the books said that the most humane way to kill a chicken is to take a long, slim, sharp knife in through the mouth and pierce the brain directly. Turns out to be much easier imagined than actually done.

Without going into more graphic details (and yes, there are more pictures that I chose not to include below), let me just say that the deed was accomplished (three times). Then the chooks were plucked, cleaned (a very nice sounding word for the fairly disgusting act of pulling and cutting out all the innards and inedible bits), and set to chill in an ice bath for several hours.

I do not feel that people shouldn't eat animals at all, but I will say that it would be a good thing if everyone who ate animals were also willing to kill, clean and cook them, at least occasionally. I think it makes you appreciate the reality of life being sacrificed for other life. It also makes you appreciate the people who regularly do the killing and cleaning and cooking so you don't have to.

I was glad to have witnessed and been part of the process. If the need ever arose for me to kill and eat a bird, I have the steps firmly in my mind.

The dinner that accompanied the chicken was very good and lasted well into the night, but I did not feel at all tempted to try the chicken.

Tying up the first victim. Posted by Hello

Three roosters. Two blokes.  Posted by Hello

K grew up on a farm, so she has a deft and expert touch on the plucking. Posted by Hello

Chook innards (plus 1 fly). Posted by Hello

Headless chook puppet! Posted by Hello

Just like store-bought! Posted by Hello

Trip to Pigeon Hole

Monday, Feb. 14: When we arrive at Pearl’s house, she immediately asks for her travel allowance so she can give her daughter (staying at the house) money for a power card (for electricity). I go to the back of the Troopie to start moving things around so we can fit people in the back (we know some people will be getting a lift with us). Before I can do anything, a 10-year-old child of indeterminate sex comes up and thrusts a tiny baby at me and says something like, “Hold ‘im for mum.”

“Oh, I need to move things around back here,” I say, but the child insists on putting the baby in my arms and says, “I can move stuff.”

I stand there kind of dumbly for a moment, not able to explain where I want stuff and then realize that I am holding a newborn baby in the sun. I retreat to the shade of the porch, watching as a number of small children swarm the back of the Troopie.

At some point Justin asks Pearl who all is going with us to which she replies, “Only my granddaughter and her husband.” Eventually, after lots of time and not a lot of communication, we get settled in. Turns out Pearl was only counting adults. Pearl sits in the front passenger seat and I am joined in the back by granddaughter and her husband (both look to be in early-mid twenties), their newborn baby (who I later find out is two weeks old), a child of about 2, a child of about 4, the 10-year-old, and a girl with ferociously plucked eyebrows of about 13 or so. I’m not sure anybody’s relationship or even the sex of the children. I find out later that all but the baby are girls, that only the three youngest belong to the couple, and that the ten-year-old is the sister of the husband. I never find out who the plucked eyebrow girl is (direct questions here, as in so much of the world, are seen as rude), but she rides back with us to Katherine when we leave Pigeon Hole a few days later.

It is impossible to keep suggesting that everyone should be seatbelted in, even if legally Justin, as the driver, is responsible. I give up on worrying about it for the most part, although everyone makes a show of buckling the kids up at the start of each leg of the journey. The baby is passed around on a bed pillow. I take a couple turns holding him. He mostly sleeps. His nappy seems to be a washcloth or hand towel (terry cloth) and pinned with one pin in front. I seem to remember from my baby-sitting days that we pinned diapers with two pins, one on each hip. I remember there being a very specific and elaborate way of folding diapers, too, and I suddenly realize that that was probably fairly arbitrary and not a universal solution to the problem. This single-pin towel method seems to work fine.

From Pearl’s house we make several errand stops, the last one being at a gas-station on the way out of town, where the family gets a bunch of fried chicken and chips (French fries), bags of potato chips or some other cold crunchy snacky, a bag of some kind of chewy sticky candy that later turns up stuck to seatbelts and luggage, a couple loaves of bread, some bottles of juice-drink. I hold the baby-on-pillow while everybody eats chicken.

At Top Springs (about 2/3rds of the way, I think), we stop. It seems to consist solely of this roadhouse, as there’s no sign of an actual community or town. The woman working there is planning a trip to Canada soon with her friend. They’re going to stay for at least a year. They also want to go to Cuba. The only places they really want to go in the US are Las Vegas and New Orleans. She remarks on my being so white when I’m from California (as if I should necessarily have a dark tan).

As we leave Top Springs there are a lot of flies in the back, attracted by their fried chicken remains which they eat on some more now. The parents have also bought a bag of ice which they add to their plastic water bottles and also hand out to the kids as snacks. At this point the parents start pointing stuff out to me in the landscape, stuff that I can’t see or can’t understand, but it’s clearly about locations—not “see that bird” so much, though there might have been a few of those—things like “Such-&-such is thataway” and “such-&-such is over there behind such-&-such”. I understand that sometimes they’re telling me about stations (cattle ranches), and at one point they tell me about a nice spring.

Arrive at Pigeon Hole
Pearl directs us to drive between the houses into a sort of backyard area where people are hanging out outside on a mattress and blankets under a tree. There is trash blown about right around the houses and around where people are hanging out. There is no sense of the orderliness that marked most rural Solomons villages, with their delineated walks and plantings and rubbish piles and I am reminded that these were nomadic people until recently, who lived in this amazing environment without building permanent shelters.

We meet the new teacher, a Canadian, on her first teaching assignment, who is teaching the upper primary (grades 3-7) and the principal/lower-primary teacher who is actually from Pigeon Hole, but has lived other places as well. Both are really nice and motivated teachers and it’s good to spend some time talking to each of them.

Justin and I go for a walk that first night on the airstrip, just after sunset. It’s lovely: wide open country, big skies.

Tuesday, Feb 16: I begin feeling sick early in the morning before getting up. Turns out to be diarrhea and I use up all the toilet paper in the girls’ bathroom. At one point I actually soil my pants (shades of our time in Eritrea). Fortunately I am wearing a menstrual pad. Unfortunately it’s not a disposable one, but a nice flannel one. Fortunately, I am feeling better by afternoon.

We play with kids in the playground during their breaks. The little kids are just amazingly affectionate, want to hug me a lot or be picked up, not in a needy way but in the way of kids who are used to getting and giving a lot of affection and I suppose just interested in novel experiences. I would pick one child up, have everyone count to five, then put that child down and pick the next one up. They are totally fine with that and did not argue about whose turn was next. I saw no pouting or tantrums at any point.

In the late afternoon, Justin and I are joined on a walk by several little kids (age 3-7). They hold our hands and each other’s hands and one says, “I like you” and I say back, “I like you, too.”

Then another says, “I like you” and I say “I like you too” and so on with me and Justin and all of the kids.

I try summarizing with “I like all of you” but they don’t get bored with the basic routine at all. After a bit of silence or maybe some talk about something else, it starts again: “I like you” etc.

Pretty cute!

Wednesday, Feb 16: We take the lower primary class (not counting the pre-school kids) out in the Troopie to look for bush tucker (wild food). I sit in the back with 7 kids aged about 5 to 7 years old. Justin, directed by the principal, drives out into the bush and we pile out of the car and follow her lead out among the bushes and trees.

I am really impressed with the kids. The kids are really cooperative with each other. Even though there isn’t much fruit on the bushes, they share with each other, especially after the teacher says mildly, “Make sure everyone gets some.” They don’t complain about being hot, their feet hurting (they are mostly barefoot), the road being bumpy, etc. I don’t think I ever heard them complain. Not sure about that. General impression though was that they were happy to follow along after their teacher then spread out around a bush. They’d venture a little way off, but not so far as to make even me nervous. They were just generally agreeable and confident and happy.

Pearl and Justin do a lesson with the bigger kids after we get back from our bush trip. At first it seemed impossible to get them to settle down, but eventually they got interested in Pearl’s stories and started asking her questions about Dreaming stories and the past history of Pigeon Hole.

Our return trip on Thursday was relatively uneventful.

Bloodwood Tree

Posted by Hello
We picked the fruit of this on our bushwalk with the kids at Pigeon Hole.

Conkerberry Bush

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We picked and ate small blue-black berries from this bush at Pigeon Hole.

Justin at Pigeon Hole School

Lookin' pretty tough with the troopie... Posted by Hello

Locusts on Troopie Grill

We hit a small swarm of locusts on the way to Pigeon Hole. Kinda pretty, huh? Posted by Hello

Humbugging and the Culture of Poverty

'Humbug' is a term that means something like 'cadge' or 'ask for stuff' directly or indirectly. Strangers can be humbugged, maybe for a cigarette or a couple bucks (in which case it's more like begging), but people are more likely to humbug people they know, and the more connected they are, the harder it is to refuse the request. I think a lot of whitefellas feel aggrieved to be humbugged by Aboriginal people, but it happens even more within the Aboriginal community than across the black-white line.

Some of you know that I've been pretty interested in the culture of poverty, especially since I read A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Without commenting much upon it, let me offer a little window into the life of a particular local woman with whom Justin works so you can see how 'humbug' fits into the cycle and culture of poverty.

—an anecdote from a day in the life of a linguist—

9:00 am. Justin picks up Pearl (some names have been changed), one of the last full speakers of her language. She is 70 years old and not in good physical health, being very overweight with heart trouble that requires a pharmacopoeia of drugs every day, a recent knee operation that left her using a cane, etc. She is mentally sharp with keen eyesight, especially when observing the countryside. This morning she has Dean, her youngest grandson, with her. He’s about 3 years old, pretty scabby and wearing clothes that have not been washed in awhile. Pearl wants to go to the bank with the paycheck Justin has for her. Two days before, Pearl had called J (a softhearted linguist with whom she worked all last year) complaining that she (Pearl) was out of food because all her relatives had spent all of their money on grog (alcohol) and then come to her house and eaten all her food.

9:15. Bank is closed for another 15 minutes. They sit for awhile deciding whether to wait or not. Justin finally decided to get cash from the ATM and then have her write her check over to him.

Next, they drive about 50 meters across the street to the market. Because of the median strip, this involves a u-turn around the traffic island. Pearl asks Justin to go into the store and buy nappies, telling him the size. She waits in the car with Dean.

Justin drives to the Language Centre, which is quite nearby. Pearl tells J (the linguist) to put a fresh nappy on Dean. J protests that she doesn’t know how. M (another linguist) was once an au pair, so she does the nappy honors. She says that the nappy is far too small.

Justin and Pearl work together on language for about an hour and a half. Dean plays on the floor with toys that the Language Centre has.

Justin drives Pearl and Dean around the corner to Betty's Trash and Treasures (a pawn shop). Pearl spends $20 on cheap plastic toys for the baby including a toy plastic motorcycle and an $8 fake video game (it makes noises, has buttons and a screen, but that’s all).

They drive back to the bank which is now open. Pearl gets out her $300 pension. Outside the bank she runs into the wife of the taxi driver that Pearl’s daughter has been using on “book down” (credit). Pearl has to pay $40 for her daughter’s debt.

Justin drives across the street (u-turn around island) to the market again. As Pearl is trying to get out of the vehicle, relatives (both close and distant) descend on her and start asking her for things. In the market, she buys a 24 pack of name-brand soda, a bucket of white flour (she explains to Justin that if she buys bread, her relatives will eat it all up too quickly), cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and a large bag of small bags of potato chips.

Justin drives Pearl back home, where relatives come out of her house to get money from her before she has a chance to get inside. She shouts at her daughter that she can’t be taking taxis on book-down anymore.

Justin takes two of Pearl’s daughters, one of their husbands and three kids downtown on his way back to the Language Centre.

The Tropical Stroll

Through living in various hot climates, particularly Sacramento and the Solomon Islands--though they are quite different types of heat and different types of places--I have discovered that the best way to deal with heat is to stay out of the direct sun and move slowly. Sometimes these two rules can be at odds, of course, but it's best to observe both whenever possible; when you have to be out in the direct sun, it is still best to move slowly, especially if you have a hat. For example, there is an urge to hurry between shade spots. It's best to resist that urge and keep walking at a slow and steady pace. However, if you're barefoot and trying to cross hot pavement, it's best to move quickly.

In Honiara, the capital of the Solomons, I used to practice my strolling. It is much harder to really stroll in a city-like environment (that is, a place with paved roads, sidewalks, cars, and people hurrying from office to shop to office) than it is on a tree-shaded path in the village. Once, I thought I was strolling pretty slowly and then found myself coming right up on the heels of a couple of Solomon Islanders. As I was preparing to pass them, I thought, no, I'll walk at their pace. I slowed down. And down. And down. The pace they were walking at was significantly slower than my previous "slow" pace. Once I got into it, though, it was incredible. It was really a different experience of the world (or at least of Honiara). It gave me a whole new appreciation for walking meditation.

I have been practicing my tropical stroll here in Katherine, sometimes setting my pace behind unhurried Aboriginal people. The other day, one of the fellows I was behind pushed his friend toward the side, saying something about letting "the lady pass." I think I must have confused them when I didn't.

When I am feeling like I have a lot to do, I begin to feel hot before I've even done anything. It's like a certain type of thinking actually heats the body up. Maybe this is why we sweat when we panic? And feel hot when we're frantic? It seems clear that heat can cause frustration (think about fussy children), but I think perhaps also frustration can cause heat.

When I practice leisurely thinking along with the tropical stroll, I can walk across town in the middle of the day without breaking a sweat and I can really feel the truth in the Australian expression "no worries, mate."

I know most of you reading this are experiencing a lovely California spring, so being too hot isn't an issue right now. If, however, you feel yourself getting cranky because you have too much to do, try walking instead of driving, and walk as though you have tens of thousands of years to get where you're going (or at least all day).

Some Interesting Links

Not a lot to report here in Katherine. I had a really nice birthday including unexpected gifts, birthday cake with candles and ice-cream, and a long lively discussion on the American versus Australian uses of the terms "squash" and "pumpkin" (among other topics). It turns out, when hanging out with linguists who speak three different Englishes (American, Australian, and British) and have knowledge of a further number of accents and dialects, that the conversation always comes round at some point to "you say what?" and "can you say that?" because the variations really are (almost) endlessly fascinating.

Today I went over to the Greening Australia office to find out about volunteering there. Volunteers work out in the plant nursery every Friday morning, so I'll begin this week!

I've been doing a bit of reading online, so I thought I'd share some sites with you. While visiting the Solar Cookers International website, I came upon this link about Mohammed Bah Abba who won a Rolex Award for his invention for keeping vegetables fresher for longer in his native Nigeria. It turns out that a layer of wet sand sandwiched (as it were) between two clay pots will quite markedly prolong the life of the produce kept inside the inner pot. A damp cover, possibly of leaves, is placed over the veggies. The website, by the way, is attractively designed, with great sound and graphics. It's designed to keep you actively engaged, so rather than give you all the info at once, you have to mouse over things or click on things to get more of the story. I think it's good website design. Beware, though, that it might load slowly if--like me--you have dial-up.

I also just read about Dave Calland's permaculture work with indigenous people out in remote communities. The paper is called Garden Djama In Arnhem Land:Permaculture Design With The Barrara And Djinang. It's not only cool work that he's doing, but he talks about cultural differences and the importance of respecting and learning about the values of the people you're working with.

Speaking of cross-cultural learning styles (I was, wasn't I?), I have also just been re-reading Peter Ninnes master's thesis Culture and Learning in Western Province, Solomon Islands in which he also looks at the literature on culture and learning--that is, comparing informal community/family learning with learning in a formal classroom setting--among Aboriginal Australian children, Hopi children and children in several African countries. If you want to know more, check out Chapter 2 particularly.

Along a related theme, I've also been reading about the Northern Territory Teacher Induction Program, at least as it was prior to 1997. I've no idea whether it's the same now or not. There seems to have been an academic conference with one of those typical academic conference titles: From Students of Teaching to Teachers of Students: Teacher Induction Around the Pacific Rim. The part I was rereading is called, tellingly, Strangers in Their Own Country: Teachers in the Northern Territory , as most teachers up here (and indeed a good portion of all people in Katherine) are from somewhere else.

That's all the online reading suggestions I have for now. Anyone want to recommend a single favorite online source of international news?

Solar Cooked Cornbread

Yesterday, while we were away, the sun successfully baked a nice pan of cornbread in our backyard. This was the first use of the cooker. Today I baked some apples that needed something done with them.

I usually don't think of there being any particular American cuisine, everything having come from somewhere else. I suppose I forget to think about the meat things like hamburgers and hot-dogs. Sure there are regional specialties, but nothing really pan-American. However, I found that neither our German nor Aussie friends were familiar with cornbread, and I was so pleased to think of cornbread as an American food that varies by region but is eaten everywhere. It's nice, too, because it's something I really like, so I was happy to share it with our friends. So much terrible stuff (food, ideas, entertainment) comes from the US and oozes and bullies its way around the world. Why not cornbread?

I couldn't actually find cornmeal here, but I made it with polenta and it turned out fine. It's always a little nerve-wracking to work with a new solar cooker in a new climate, especially after you've really talked it up, so I was glad it turned out.

Now, of course, we're supposed to get rain tomorrow that will last for weeks!

An Uneventful Sunday Outing & Monday Birthday Ruminations

Yesterday (Sunday), we drove up to Pine Creek (just 5 k past the turn-off to Umbrawarra Gorge where we had our little adventure the previous Sunday). J's car had been towed from the gorge and repaired in Pine Creek.

We stopped in Mayse's (Deli? Cafe?) for mango smoothies, advertised on a sandwich board out front. I was charmed even before entering by the community bulletin board on the deeply shaded verandah and the plant-laden balconies of the rooms above. As Justin, J, and I enjoyed the smoothies (which were really good, although perhaps a bit more like milkshakes than like healthy fruit beverages), we had plenty of time to look around at the interior.

The booths had great 1950s-ish stylized soda glasses inlaid in their sides, and much of the walls were covered with framed photos of film idols of the black-and-white days (I'm not much up on those film stars so I couldn't say if they were from the 1930s, '40s or '50s or a mix). In a glass-fronted shadow box was the actual white shirt worn by Leonardo whatsisface in the Titanic.

Thus far I am describing a bit of a retro American diner or soda shop and I do think that was the decor goal. However, as we sat in our booth, we were also looking straight at an Aboriginal-style dot painting. On a table in the front window were a great mix of Aboriginal-style art and artifacts (didgeridoos, boomerangs) as well as jokey tourist stuff like little wooden signposts that said "Pine Creek A very long way from here" or something like that and postcards and a book about stuff to do on the Stuart Highway.

So if the American film idols along with the indigenous-style art and the other tourist stuff were not already enough for you, there was also another unrelated category of things for sale. Unpainted wood craft items like birdhouses and stools were available, along with a wide array of acrylic crafter paints with which to decorate them.

There were also some random oddities on display like a framed and matted US$5 bill (remember, that's the one with Lincoln) which was--according to what was written on the matting--given to them by the grandson of John Wilkes Booth who hails from Arizona.

Anyway, it was all weird enough that I quite liked it and I was almost tempted to buy the autographed biography of Mayse herself, long time publican and resident of Pine Creek. Justin got that quintessential Aussie road food, a meat pie, as we left.

On our way back from Pine Creek we stopped at Edith Falls for a swim and a bit of a picnic. It was lovely and refreshing and easily accessible.

Unfortunately, I forgot the camera for this whole outing, so there are no pix of any of it. You'll just have to use your imagination!

We got home and discovered that M had made me a birthday cake for today. She also bought 35 birthday candles, but realized that it was unrealistic to try to fit so many candles on the one cake.

This was the first birthday I remember really feeling a bit blue about, but I'm already feeling better about it. I just remembered that there was a time in our human history when this (35) was about life expectancy, so I'm feeling a sort of thrill of survival, like, "Hey, I made it!"

For those who like gross medical photos...

My feet on Tuesday after last Sunday night's unplanned hike. They look scabbier now, and they hardly hurt at all. I've been using tea tree oil to keep the sores from getting infected and it seems to be working.

Justin driving the Troopie on the way back from Yarralin. Posted by Hello

A surprising bit of dryish-looking grass. Posted by Hello

View from inside Troopie near Gregory National Park. Posted by Hello

The rain that kept us in Yarralin as it advanced on us. Posted by Hello

Approaching rain as seen from Yarralin School. Posted by Hello

Back in Booming Katherine

Upon hearing around 7 am that Sandy Creek was down (the school principal had said, "Sandy's up and down like a yo-yo!"), we immediately made plans to skedaddle. We got out safely, crossing all of the many creeks, most with ominous names like "Skull Creek" and "Surprise Creek" and "Lost Creek".

We hit very little rain and had a generally uneventful trip back.

Another Kind of Stuck

Well, we're in the middle of a bit of another adventure. I'm tagging along on a work trip with Justin and J. Originally we were going to a couple of different schools, but the road to the second was known to be impassible before we left Katherine, so we decided to limit ourselves to one school.

There was quite a bit of rain for part of our drive down, but we got into the community (Yarralin) okay yesterday. However, more big rain came last night and the nearest creek crossing is at 1.4 meters--a bit too high to cross, even in the 4WD Troopie that we've got. (Just for an idea of how far it needs to come down before we can leave: the education dept tells their remote teachers not to cross water that's more than 0.4 meters, and health workers are allowed to cross up to 0.6 meters in an emergency. Considering Justin is an inexperienced--though trained--4WD driver, we think we'll stick to the 0.4 limit.) There are also several other crossings between this community and the Stuart Highway.

The thing is--there looks to be more rain on the way, and this community often gets rained in for months at a time (at this time of year). SO....this particular adventure is not over yet!

The weather is interesting: quite gray and cool. I'm wearing my new Blundstone boots with the requisite thick socks and long pants and am quite comfortable (except for the blisters from the long wet walk in my in-other-circumstances-beloved Chacos). Of course, it is still air conditioned in the school.

School has been cancelled today for "sorry business" (a death in the extended family of a community member), so it's a bit quiet around here. The three teachers are using the day to do lesson planning, etc. Teachers everywhere can always use an extra day for prep work, and these teachers seem to work very hard. I'm sure I'll be able to post more about the school later.