Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gettin' my Bogan on in Rarotonga

Confession time:  I have high suspicions that I'm a dirty bogan speed freak at heart.  I can't help it.  I like going fast, and being high.  High up off the ground, I mean.  Of course.  *cough*  Open air train carriages, boats, convertible cars (always been a dream, though now my guilt says I must get a hybrid, should I ever have enough cash to upgrade), bridges, balconies, up towers or tall buildings, glass bottom lifts...

Which is relevant currently, because apparently learning to ride a scooter in Rarotonga brought it back out.

Mean beast

Fond memories of quad bikes and ride-on lawn mowers in my past were awakened and I'm finding it hard to stick to the speed limit of 40km/hr for non-helmeted tourists.  I say specifically tourists, because it would appear that no locals obey that particular rule.  It becomes a bit frustrating when you're not working to island time, kicking your heels in leisure - but trying to get to the Ministry of Education building or the three schools we have in our research program for work.  And the locals zip past you, and the tourists hold you up.

Excuses - I leave early enough to get there on time at the safer speed limit - but that doesn't have to mean I like it.

Today, the project admin based here, a lovely Cook Island local women, and I got assents and pre-intervention questionnaires done at Titikaveka (all year groups in the study) and Nukutere (year 11's) Colleges.
Titikaveka Year 11's

The schools are very different in that the buildings and resources are somewhat...stuck in the 80's, but then also modern in that the teachers are pretty much the same with regards demand of standards, and there are random tablets and laptops sprinkled about.  So - half the class might not even have an email address, the other half are sneaking in a quick check of facebook on their tablets at the back of the class (I totally snapped a dude).
Some Nukutere Year 11's

The questionnaire takes a good 40 minutes to complete, so we took over a class or two for each school.  I hadn't realised how much I missed teaching/working with kids actually, they were pretty great all round.  The younger years asked lots of questions and were pretty chatty, while the year 11's were quiet across the board.

Nukutere was hit by an arsonist last year and they lost a whole block of classrooms - including the science lab.  So the above pic is of the class in their temporary room, part of the Catholic church on the school grounds, which is also the oldest (Catholic?) church on the island.  Nukutere is a Catholic school, and like Titikaveka only runs up to year 12.  If the students want to sit for year 13, they all go to the main school on the island - Tereora, where we will be doing the questionnaires next week.  Back to Nukutere tomorrow to finish off the other year groups.

Both of the schools we went to today use pate (slit-gong) instead of bells to signal the end of class periods/recess etc.  It seems to be a bit of a treat to get to be the drummer and the kids go nuts on them - making up their own beats etc.  Very cool.

The temp science classroom at Nukutere was pretty much a sauna, and storm clouds were rolling in which upped the general humidity by about a thousand percent.  Urgh.  I really, really don't know how people survive here in either the 'rainy' season, or during summer proper.
I've managed to sneak in a squick snorkel each day, and am looking forward to going all the way out to the reef over the weekend.

I'm also considering parting with some cash to see a 'cultural show' at the weekend, since while I'm getting to know the locals pretty well, they're nothing like the coconut bra-wearing, dancing, frantic-drumming travel brochures.  Had a middle of the road-stop the car and scooter-conversation today with one of the Ministry of Ed staff, it was hilarious.

Something which I do find frustrating is the lack of fresh fruit and veges available.  Apparently the Saturday market is where you stock up for the week, 'cause the limited selection at the supermarket is ridiculously overpriced.  So I'm hanging out for Saturday.  There are not nearly enough coconuts in my life right now.

The geckos were a bit of a surprise, but the little buggers are just so cute.  And they go out of their way to stay out of yours, so you couldn't ask for a more pleasant house-pest.  I have a big'un in my room called Jim, we've been having great late-evening conversations.  The smaller one in the kitchen/lounge is called Tama but he doesn't like chatting so much; a bit shy, is Tama.  Rubbish pic on iPhone with flash, but Jim is the one on the left.  The boss has a wee enclosed porch-type situation and when we sit out there working later at night they come in droves.  I guess tourists are good for keeping the lights on to attract dinner, if nothing else.

The local paper is completely brilliant and everyone seems to read it to keep up with the news - I saw 2 different students reading it after they'd finished their work with us.  The local TV station is equally hilarious but I haven't really spent any time watching it.

I started on the stock-image taking today on my big camera, but just discovered the Adobe creative suite on my new comp was never activated properly and is currently licence-less.  Edits will have to wait till I get home.

My fro is loving the salt, I'm keen to not bother washing it at all for 2 weeks and just see how much of a beach bum I can become.
Nothing like snapping a selfie while working at a deck table (yesterday).

Speaking of 2 weeks - I've had word that The Flatmate is abandoning me for greener pastures and when I get back I will have 20 days to find (and move in to) a new apartment, and a new flatmate.  Bit of a freakout there, but there's nothing I can do from the Pacific Ocean, so will leave it for when I get home.  Rubbish timing, fo'sure.

I picked up a couple of boys on my way back into town to return the rental car, they were hitching in to pick up scooters too.  Turned out - one was from Opotiki and the other had an Aunt in Ohope; we decided we were practically neighbours (The Mother and Father live in Ohope).  Small world, this.

And now - bed time, I think.

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