It’s been a long time, without you my friend.
Today we had a celebratory flat white to mark our one-month anniversary here. That’s right, they have flat whites here! The coffees here have that telltale long-life aftertaste, but hey, in the islands you work with what you’ve got.
Before we left we were going hundy on all the things we thought we’d miss starting with coffee, cheese and meat. Other than family and friends, which is a separate kettle of fish, we miss heaps of things. I miss my CrossFit box, my bike, my particular brand of toilet paper, absorbent towels, pics peanut butter, cacao nibs, and clean streets. Nid misses fried chicken, hot crispy chips, meat pies, Splatoon, the Nid-shaped gaming-buttgroove on our couch, and dirty bants with other criminal lawyers.
However, these are the top three things that we miss the most, in order.
Some people can live without it, but for mitufala internet is life. We do have internet but it is not real internet. It’s like being sent back to the new millennium when texts cost 20 cents each and internet only happened when you were connected to the wall. Are we overreacting? Probably. But, look at all the things the interwebs has helped us overcome: “call mum”, ‘how to cook slippery cabbage’, ‘where is the beach?’, ‘how to light a gas oven when the sparker is broke’, ‘Tulagi Dive or Munda Dive?’, ‘do I have dengue fever?’. Having to ration this data, which is already the slowest in the world, to last as long as possible is trying. This something we’re still working hard on improving.
As volunteers, we knew we weren’t going to save anything for retirement here but realising that we spent all our money and both have near on empty wallets is a little unnerving. Sure we have some padding in our New Zealand coffers, but that isn’t the point of being here. In saying that, we’re not dirt poor by any means. We can still have some nice things, and eat some nice foods, just not as many nice things and nice foods as we are used to. Compared to the locals, we still live like princes and princesses (the private contract expats and diplomats here are the ones that live like kings and queens) and experiences like going on a Village Stay remind us we are still #blessed.
Anyone who knows us will know that we know nothing about cars except how to drive one and what colours are acceptable. Owning a car in the Solomon Islands was not on the agenda but after lugging several coconuts, a pineapple, and a bunch of bananas on your back and feeling your back and armpit sweat patches start to merge, you begin to reprioritise. We have been lucky to have been able to borrow a coworker’s car for a week and WOWZERS has our world expanded. Our social life has increased by at least 800% (because we only had one friend and now we know like eight people)! We have also been to more events in one week than we usually go to in a month in New Zealand and actually have a pantry with stuff in it. We have been cautioned however that owning a car here puts you in a bubble: you miss getting to know your community, it’s harder to meet the locals, and you are less likely to stumble across rich experiences. This is true. But I really like not sweating more.
Looking at our list, the only one that has really surprised us is the car. Looking forward to revisiting the list at the six-month mark to see if we’ve become any less materialistic. Fingers crossed.