In the three days I’ve been here, I’ve been treated royally by one and all. Not only did they move me into a grand house, but the kind folks of Ukarumpa baked fresh bread for me, invited me to lunch and dinner (several of them, in fact – I was fed every meal from Wednesday evening to Friday night), and gave me a walking tour of the village. The neighbors, bearing gifts of homemade strawberry jam and cinnamon bread, introduced themselves last evening. I ate half the loaf in one sitting.
The first family I lunch ‘n munched with was a couple from Australia and their son (soon to be one of my 10th graders). He took me to the backyard and showed me a high-ropes course he’d built himself – involving a tree and a large metal crate (not the safest contraption, I must say) and a hodgepodge of ropes going every which-a-way.
Later, I ate with a family of four – with two little guys rummaging around and generally enjoying themselves. The oldest (almost 4, I believe they said) went outside and held conversation with the ants while we enjoyed freshly cooked (and o-so-delicious) Spanish tortilla. I think we’ll be fast friends.
My other neighbors have two younguns themselves. But these are more of the 5th and 6th grade types – old folks, you know. They also have a lovely treehouse:
Before I met them, I was sitting at my desk sipping tea (the PNG blend is both tasty and cheap) when I overheard a rowdy bunch of boys climbing onto the trampoline in my backyard (yes, you heard me right – I have a trampoline).
“Yeah, they’re gone right now, so we can use it,” said the first to his friends. “A single guy is moving in soon, but he’s not here yet.” I figured that was as good a time as any to walk out the back door and say hello.
The look of horror on the first boy’s face was priceless (to be clear, I had no intention of horrifying the man). The others were speechless, staring.
“You’re fine, don’t worry about it. I was just coming to say hello – I’m the new neighbor. Jump on the trampoline as much as you’d like – ha!”
A general (but inaudible) sigh of relief, and all was well.