I’ve decided to stop trying to learn any more Pidgin, and give up using it when I talk to locals. I talk in English now. For a start, the kinds of conversations you can have in Pidgin are so limited that the person can basically understand if you speak in English anyway. Detailed and interesting conversations require English by both parties because when it comes down to it, Pidgin is a bad language. So lately, the only time I’m called upon to speak it is when someone doesn’t understand English at all. And then, I don’t have very much to say anyway.
This is one of a number of recent retractions I feel myself making, with only seven months to go before our return. There’s no point buying any new furniture or electrical goods, for instance. If something breaks we’ll just wait. And we’re already thinking about who is going to buy the car.
And there’s not really much point doing any more local travel unless it involves speccy diving. I now feel like we’ve seen enough of the place to get an idea – it’s all on roughly the same latitude so there isn’t much in the way of geographic diversity – certainly not compared to Australia – and in terms of cultural diversity you’d probably have to stay here another five years to pick up much more than we already have.
I think it’s called a learning plateau, and we’ll be on it until we leave. This happens to everyone who stays for the second year, as far as we can see. The pleasure of familiarisation starts to become tinged with a bit of boredom, and as we know we’re not here for long enough to really get established, the irritations of living here build up a bit worse than they would if we knew we would have to deal with them properly into the longer term, and therefore started to strategise. As it is, we just put up with stuff, knowing that it’s not ultimately going to be our problem.
I’m just talking about stuff like the cruddy shops, the people talking so quietly on the phone you cannot hear a word they say, the mud, the rubbish, the glare, the mosquitos, the stupid conversations, the incessant rain, the inadequate services, the lack of any entertainment, the government systems that are at once Byzantine and Neanderthal. Nothing major. Just things about life here that tick everyone off.
And, as my friend Jeremy commented recently, every time you go away makes coming back here seem a bit more irritating…
So anyway, there’ll be no more “mifala blo Australia!” It’s “we’re Australian” from hereon out.
You know what i mean.