2. Probably preceded by a hunt to obtain the meat.
3. The traditional signal for everyone of a village to gather.
4. "rod, big rod...", implying a vehicular road rather than a walking trail, but these were built by the Americans, who this narrative tells us had just that day first come to the village. Perhaps the trumpet was blown on the old trail where the road was built soon after.
5. The northern tip of Espiritu Santo's NE peninsula.
6. This would have been unprecedented in the narrator's experience. At the time, and to a very large extent today, ni-Vanuatu were outside the money economy and grew all their own food.
7. Referring to a pedaled generator that powered the radio.
8. Presumably their hill-top coast-watching station, which as he stated earlier, was not really a village.
9. "man bus", "bush men" who had had little contact with the outside world. The term implies some condescension.
10. "smol haus" can mean outhouse, or toilet, but not in this context. It isn't clear why three able-bodied ni-Vanuatu men with the assistance of three soldiers could not themselves perform what is an everyday task in Vanuatu. Perhaps the extra labour was needed to make thatch for the roof.
11. "wael mat", perhaps the type of pandanas tree with serrated leaf edges, rather than the smooth type normally used for weaving mats and baskets.
12. "ol hip blong ol solja long bus". "Hip" refers to a heap, or very large amount of something. Ni-Vanuatu were overwhelmed by the huge amount of materiel brought by the Americans, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of men who came through Luganville and the other bases. Cargo cults sprang up all over the Pacific in an effort to comprehend this amount of goods and obtain an equal share of them.
13. The narrator's accent would instantly expose him as an impostor.
14. The word "bel" is used here, rather than "stil", which was used elsewhere.
15. The "all clear" signal.
16. "Ol bigbigfala toj we bigwan", Searchlights.
17. I.e., off the south coast of Espiritu Santo.
18. Returning to the story about coastwatching at Cape Queiros.
19. It is somewhat difficult to imagine how, if there is no source of water nearby. Vanuatu's May 1989 census maps do not show any habitation on the north tip of Cape Queiros, although it shows two hamlets of 3 and 1 households on a hill just north of Port Olry.
20. "han", usually meaning "upper extremity", but apparently just "extremity" in this case.
21. "leg", somewhere between hip and toe. Leg or foot in this context.
22. Even today, tinned fish is a convenience food; you could call a can opener Vanuatu's equivalent to a Canadian microwave oven.
23. "haosgel", maid. A Vanuatu institution that cuts across cultural lines. For example, when we lived in Port Vila if our housegirl was not available for evening babysitting, she would send her housegirl (a young relative in town from her outer island). Somebody had to clean our housegirl's house while she was cleaning ours.
24. Not normally considered appropriate man's work in Vanuatu.
25. White rice is considered a luxury food in Vanuatu. It is prestigious because it is associated with expatriates, it is purchased with money rather than grown, and it is convenient because you just boil it for 15 minutes.
26. Typist's comments.
27. Amphibious tank? Jeep with machine gun? Amphibious truck with machine gun? Whatever, it was truly wondrous to a man from the village.
28. "oli kam long ples ia", could also be "They came from that place [the Solomons]".
29. "masta", white male (or other expatriate male), especially one's employer. His wife is referred to as "missis", their children "smol masta" and "smol missis".
30. "stap slip", could be "sleep".
31. "han", somewhere between shoulder and fingertip.
32. "string", could be "blood vessels".
33. As an independent country, as opposed to a colony.
34. During nearly six years living in Vanuatu, I never heard any official declaration of this sentiment. I can't remember hearing many mentions of the American occupation at all. There is no official monument in Luganville commemorating the American presence, although there are many signs of their former presence. Except for old men like these narrators who worked for the Americans, the episode seems to be considered something temporary from the outside that didn't really have any direct connection with Vanuatu. Perhaps this is not an unreasonable conclusion.
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©Stan Combs, 1998.