Grippe A

Swine flu has hit Rurutu, and at least half the island is sick, the other half will be, in a couple of days! Poor Matotea has been diagnosed and is now labeled 'contagious' so she's been banished to grandma's house for 5 days. Heimana, as yet does not have a fever or a hacking cough, symptoms required for diagnosis. BUT given that she was 'summoned' to the Medical Center by the doctor (where all the sick people are!) I suspect that if Matotea didn't do it then the trip to the doctor will....

Epidemiology on islands is pretty scary, and I understand a bit more now about how hopeless it was for the Polynesians stuck here during the disease epidemics, which occurred during early European contact. The population was decimated, quite literally i.e. 9 out of 10 people died, or that's what we believe from historical estimates of population sizes here in Rurutu (and elsewhere across the Pacific).

Anyway on that cheery note, the grippe doesn't seem to be nearly as deadly as was initially feared, and though poorly, Matotea seems to be happily playing with her sick cousins at grandma's house!


The corned beef hierarchy

My mother-in-law has just got back from a trip to Rarotonga, a neighboring island in the Cook-Australs chain, but presided over by New Zealand and not France, so actually very different to Rurutu. Her gift for us was a 24 pack of Rarotonga corned beef!

Apparently it's a superior quality to the four varieties that we get here in Rurutu! For those of you who have never visited the central Pacific, it's perhaps somewhat surprising to hear that corned beef is a revered food source. Here in French Polynesia it's called Punu pua toro
literally translated that means 'tinned cow animal', and we like to eat it with tomato sauce and greens either accompanied by rice, otherwise with miti hue, a delicious sauce made from fermented green coconut meat and breadfruit. It's a favorite meal. I guess it's hard for me to understand how revolutionary tinned meat and fish must have seemed when it first arrived in Polynesia - sardines, mackerel and other fish are also consumed in quantity. Alleviating the traditional feast/famine cycles.

In Samoa, Fiji and Tonga corned beef is also consumed in quantity. I remember being amused by the 'traditional' offering of coconuts, breadfruit and corned beef, when visiting any village in Independent Samoa....

Or the fact that both houses and vehicles are dressed up as tinned food in Tonga!

The first month

So, we've weathered our first month together as a family of four, and it's no bowl o' cherries, but we're "waving not drowning"....I think!

Heimana has put on over 800g and has grown 5cm (which seems quite remarkable), next month she's aiming to be 'this tall', or so she tells me! She's still a very mellow little creature, but we're having a bit of trouble with the old burping process. Hence several projectile vomit incidents, which I'm told are nothing to be too concerned about but are a little dramatic, and are causing the laundry pile to snowball. But MOSTLY we just like to stare inanimate objects into submission.

Matotea started school on tuesday, and she just LOVES it......by thursday she told me she wanted to go into the schoolyard 'tout-seul', I'm trying not to take it personally, as I see other bigger children crying for their mothers... ..and everyone tells me what a "petite champion" (sshiompion when said with a French-Tahitian accent, and roughly translated means 'very brave') Matotea is..... She's even started to go by that name, when she's not "grand bebe", just so we don't forget there are two bebe's around!

Other than this life goes on, I have lots of jam to make, yesterday it was papaya, today it's soursop......

Viriamu just inherited a horse.

The weather is FREEZING.....and I can't wait for summer!

Matotea is adjusting to life as a big sister. So all in all we're doing OK!