I spent today writing up the findings of my survey of the condition of the noble vessel ICE. It’s been raining on and off all day, never hard. In the afternoon I took a break and walked towards town in a gentle warm drizzle. It’s Sunday in this mostly Christian nation, so there were few people out. Here’s the market stall of my best girlfriend, deserted today …
Looks she forgot to sweep up the rubbish … the amount of trash on the road shoulders is much more noticeable with very few people out. Here’s the sign just down from her place:
It says “NO TOROWE RABIS LO DRAIN”. This means “NO THROW AWAY RUBBISH LO[NG] (in) DRAIN”. Of course, there is rubbish in the drain. In Mexico, we used to joke that the sign saying “No Tire Basura Aqui” was Spanish for “Town Rubbish Dump” … where in fact it means “No Dumping Here”.
Curiously this sign is an example of the endless evolution of languages, especially new languages like Pijin. Solomons Pijin is only a hundred and fifty years old or so, an infant in language terms.
There are two countervailing forces on language—we want it to be as short as possible, but we also don’t want to have misunderstandings. You can see that the all-purpose preposition “long”, meaning with, in, at, on, to, from, or anything similar, is slowly being replaced by the shorter word “lo”. Since “long” is used in every other sentence or so, this represents a large shortening for “long”… a “large shortening for long”? Seems contradictory, but hey, nobody ever said that language was logical.
Similarly, “tufela”, meaning “two fellow”, or two people, is being replaced by “tufa”. “Blong”, the general possessive helper as in “het blong mi”, “head belong me” or “my head”, is being replaced by “blo”. “Olketa”, or “all together”, meaning “them”, is being shortened to “ota”. I have a great window on the changes because a number of my friends on Facebook post in Pijin as she is spoke, not as she is supposed to be spoken … but I see that I’ve gotten side-tractored again, pulled away from my walk through the garbage and the flowers of life.
One thing that always surprises me are the strange rubbish items that I see in the street. Oh, there’s plenty of the usual stuff, cans and bottles … but what do I make of an entire deck of playing cards torn in half and scattered by the roadside? I’d love to hear the story behind that one.
Since it was raining, of course the kids were out. Someday I’d like to travel around the world doing nothing but taking pictures of kids with their home-made toys. The imagination and ingenuity in some of them is amazing. Pulling tiny cars by a string on a stick is a huge favorite around the planet, and the vehicles are often astonishing:
The rock-hauling truck at the bottom is made of a plastic biscuit package, with bottle-cap wheels. The back one has a flatbed-with-sides look to it, I couldn’t make out the materials, and the kids were skittish around “wanfala waitman”, “one fellow white man” … but clearly, they were not ones to “torowe rabis”, they repurposed it. Here’s another wheeled marvel:
That one started out as some kind of toy, not sure what. When it was well broken in, it was rebuilt using large nails as the axles, and water bottle or coke bottle caps for the wheels. Here’s a photo of a couple of the miniature reprobates behind these works of art, in this case, i-Kirbati kids …
I asked them who made the cars, “Hu nao wokim disfala ka”, “Who now work’m this fellow car”. “Mifala” (we not including the hearer), the older one said almost inaudibly with a shy smile. I smiled back. Occasional raindrops fell.
On my return to the boat I walked by what passes for a bus in the Islands …
People were laughing at me for being out in the rain, giving me grief. “Waswe iu no garem ka”, which is “What way (why) you no got’m car?” … check out the lady up by the cab photobombing the kid in front of her … man, the Solos, I’m gonna miss this place when I have to leave later in the week.
And to top it all off, when I got back to the boat, some trick of the rainy illumination highlighted the houses on the tiny island just across from me, turning it into my own personal Bali-hai.
Bali-hai will call you, any night, any day,
In your heart, you’ll hear it call you, come away, come away.
Bali-hai will whisper on the winds of the sea,
Here am I, your special island, come to me, come to me.
Your own special hopes, your own special dreams,
Loom on the hillsides and shine in the streams …
If you try, you’ll find me, where the sky meets the sea,
Here am I, your special island, come to me, come to me …
Seeing that dang movie South Pacific as a kid ruined me for life, because like a besotted fool I followed that call of “come to me” and never looked back, dancing down that endless road, laughing and singing …
Well, I left home in the springtime when the flowers were in bloom,
And I told the folks I’d be back in the fall, in the fall,
But the road keeps stretching onward from the cradleboard to the tomb,
And I guess I’ll never see those folks at all …
With that same enticing road still stretching in front of me, and with the fervent wish that you all can find your own special hopes and dreams on the hillsides of whatever Bali-hai you call your own, I remain,
Yr. Obt. Svt.,