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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh My FAQ! (Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) about Stilettos in the Solomons)

I’ve started a frequently asked question section for the blog because I do get questions from time to time from friends, family, acquaintances and the odd internet stalker who has nothing better to do than read my blog. 
So here it goes:  

Q. Do you, in fact, wear stilettos in the Solomons?
A. Yes.  Only indoors; the roads and/or sidewalks are very uneven. The risk of ankle trauma here is high, as is the possibility of going ass over face and revealing your under things. 

Q. How many pairs of stilettos do you own?
A. Well, I brought with me one pair of red, crocodile skin stripper ones.  These are super slutty and I love them. I own a few wedges as well.

Q. You have typos.  You suck.
A. Yes I know.  I write a lot very quickly and so far no one wants to edit my stuff.  Sorry.

Q. I am new to this whole blog…give me a summary…Dance, monkey, DANCE!
A. Okay! So in August of last year, I left my work and city etc…to travel around the world to take up a volunteer assignment in the Solomon Islands for one year.  I started my assignment in October of last year (after having a blast getting here) and it’s been a full on experience ever since.  If you read the blog, you will pick up that I was married once. A lot of people do a volunteer assignment as a way to flee bad situations at home and I do not recommend that.  Development work is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, long before the marriage ended. While being here is healing, it is in no way my sole purpose for coming here.  Neither is it the reason I write this blog. So, sorry but if you are looking for salacious details or me bashing my ex husband or the marriage or figuring out what happened etc…look elsewhere.  I don’t do that, it is crass and cruel and not very helpful to anybody, especially me. My ex is a lovely fellah, that’s why I married him in the first place and I wish him all the best in his new life.   

Ehem.  Anyway, this is no Eat, Pray, Love, people…it’s more like Eat strange things, live in a country with huge development issues, party, and do good stuff sometimes. 

Q. Why don’t you talk more about your work?
A. While I find my work personally very rewarding, most people would find it slightly boring.  You don’t read my blog to find out that I wrote a magnificent report today….that would put you into a coma.  So I don’t write about it.

Q. I get the feeling that all you do is party.  Is that true?
A. Kind of. Interesting things happen at parties, which is why I blog about it.  But I probably go to about one or two significant parties a week.  Because there is no television, really, here, dinner parties etc…are a huge part of life here.  And I like that very much.

Q. Who is your host organization?
A. If you know me in real life, you probably know who my host organization is.  I don’t reveal it because I don’t want to ever embarrass my host organization by what I write.  Sorry, but you ain’t findin out through this blog.

Q. How often do you update your blog?
A. Usually I update with a summary of weekly events on a Monday or Tuesday.  Then I do a Solomon Islands Recipe of the Week on Friday.  Am still toying with the idea of a section call “Sh$%t that scares my parents about the Solomons”.

Q. Do you have a boyfriend?
A. That’s none of your business.

Q. Can I be your boyfriend?
A. Maybe.  The guy running the beetlenut stand down the road offered me a pig and as many coconuts as I could carry to be his girlfriend.  If you can top that, we might be in business.

Q. Where are you from?
A. I would define myself as an Amerikiwi.  So I was brought up in the U.S., in the best state ever…WASHINGTON! Not D.C….anyway, it’s a badass state…BUT I lived in New Zealand for 10 years, which is one fantastic country, in the great city of Christchurch.  My mom is a frenchie so I have heaps of aunties, uncles, cuzzie bros, etc…who are French.  Which means I can say “pass the stinky cheese” in French quite successfully.  I also hung out in Hawaii for a bit.  I feel really fortunate to have lived in the some very beautiful places.

Charmingly, my good friend Mike from Ohio pointed out that the more I drink, the more I sound like a Kiwi…which is odd and the reason I stopped drinking. 

Q. Why did you go back to Christchurch for the earthquake?
A. Why, indeed.  It has something to do with work, something to do with my heart and something to do with my overwhelming sense of self importance.  But I love Christchurch like a mad thing, it’s a great place, no matter what you have heard and every day it gets better and better.

Q. You don’t seem to write much about development issues in the Solomons or politics.  Why is that?
A. Because writing about politics can get me into trouble.  And the politics here are diverse and complex, like everywhere else.  Only the politicians here tend to have a criminal record of some description.  So I will remain silent…

I am happy to talk about development issues when it pops up but I do steer away from this for several reasons.  First, this blog is seriously first person, observation stuff.  I don’t quote other people or put other publications on my blog to make you think I’m smarter than I am.  This blog is about my experiences and observations living here, as well as my journey throughout this year.   

Also, development issues are extremely complex, like politics.  To put these issues in a blog is, in a sense, 
treating these issues as if they can be solved easily.  The issues can’t.  So I tend to steer away from things except for my occasional rant.

Q. How do I help in the Solomons?
A. Good question.  Email me and we will talk.

Q. Does everyone get fake names in your blog?
A. Yes.  For the most part, everyone gets a fake name. I like to protect the innocent (and not so innocent).

Q. How do you choose fake names?
A. I used to let people choose, but that got me into trouble (Maverick is the worst). So now it’s usually by random association.   There is some method to my madness but revealing that would be potentially revealing the real name of the person.

Q. Can I have a fake name?
A. Maybe.  

Q. Can I stay with you in the Solomons?
A. Depends on how much I like you.  But something can probably be worked out, if you let me call you Felipe and you become my houseboy (or girl).  Duties include: fanning me with a palm frond, fetching me coconuts and rubbing my feet. 

Q. Do you like the food there?
A. Yes, it is very good.  I find Melanesian cuisine full of surprises.  I love going to the markets and getting fresh, organic fruits and veggies.  I miss parsley and potatoes (you know, the white kind. Sweet potatoes abound here). However, the seafood cannot be beat.  Forget about beef.  Chicken and pork are okay but kinda expensive.  So I try to eat as simply as I can because I can’t afford the expensive stuff.  

Q. Is there a McDonald’s there? Subway? Arby's? WHITECASTLE????
A. Er, no.  Although I am not sure I want to write this because we have NO chain fast food outlets here. Long may it stay that way.

Q. Have you had malaria?
A. Not that I am aware of.

Q. Have you had round worm?
A. Probably.

Q. Have you had syphilis?  I heard Paul Gauguin had it when he lived in Tahiti and he died from it.  That’s what I heard, anyway.
A. No, not according to the travel doctor and really that’s none of your business.

Q. Are you a really shallow person?  Why don’t you do more advocacy in your blog to bring out issues that we are unaware of?  Why? WHY?
A. Aren’t we all shallow and self centered?  Look, I don’t write this blog so you can think I’m a super intelligent, caring wonder woman.  I write it so I can make my friends and family laugh and so that they know, at least once a week, that I am alive and well and that I have not been cursed by witchdoctors in Temotu or had my head removed by headhunters in Munda.  Yet.

Q. Do you like being there?
A. Generally, yes.  I like it less when Christchurch has earthquakes and more, you know, normal stuff going on but yes I do like it here.

Q. So is this like Sex and the Solomons?
A. Yes. Sort of, minus the sex, plus the flip flops.  My mom reads this stuff people!  I like to think of this blog as more of a Bridget Jones does the Solomons because I never want my humour to be about making fun of other people but more about myself, because I get myself in some crazy situations.

Q. What are the people like?
A. “The people”…hmm…can’t answer that one, it’s too complicated.  Ask again later (I consulted my magic eight ball before constructing that answer).

Q. Where to you live?
A. Somewhere in Honiara.

Q. What island is that on?
A. Guadalcanal.

Q. What country is that in?
A. The Solomon Islands.

Q. Where is that?
A. Between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Q. Where are those countries?
A. North of Australia.

Q. Really?  Isn’t Australia full of poisonous snakes and sharks and stuff.
A. Yes.  I guess it is.  I haven’t spent much time there, actually.  I went to Brisbane a couple of times and Sydney twice.  Am very fond of Sydney.  I would like to go to Melbourne at some point but I also want to go to Scott Base in Antartica.  If I go, I’ll blog it is as Stilettos on the Ice or Stilettos and Penguins or Stilettos at Scott Base…Anyway, clearly, some dreams aren’t coming true.

Q. I actually don’t know where Australia is. I’ve met a few Australians and I don’t like them.
A. I really can’t talk to you anymore.

Q. Really?  Why not?
A. Because. 

Okay, that’s it.  If you have a question for me, email me and I’ll do my best to answer it and do another FAQ.
All the best,