Resourcefulness: A PCVs best friend

“Necessity is the mother invention.”

Why?  Because you have no other choice!  Inventiveness and ingenuity are spurred by difficulty, be it great (I’m stranded and lost with no call credit, now what?) or trivial (I’m out of shelf space and cardboard boxes).  Boy, If I wasn’t certain of this proverbs verity pre-Fiji, I sure am now!

Surely there is no better way to encourage creativity than to be devoid of simpler options 🙂  It’s just human nature that if we have the option, we will choose the easier, expeditious route.  Ease and speed are in short supply in the village, but lucky for me time is not!  Queue the gears of imagination.

Take lunch today for example.  With the dearth of culinary options in the village I have three options, 1. beg (a.k.a. kerekere, which is actually totally acceptable here), 2. starve (much less acceptable than begging) or 3. be resourceful.  Well, “…I ain’t got no worries, ’cause I ain’t in no hurry at all“.   Plus, I actually had a solid 8 hours of sleep last night and got in a nice long run this morning; no excuse to be vucesa (lazy), and I’m quite hungry–creativity for the win!

Just a half hour later I’m happily munching away at the product of my culinary adventure: spicy hummus with a fried egg and arugula on a whole wheat roti. Success!  This isn’t to say I wasn’t capable of this a year ago (hummus and roti are quite elementary).  But, had my belly been rumbling at noon time a year ago, back in the good old US, I would have hopped right in my car and sped over to the market.  Maybe I would have eaten the same things: hummus, arugula, a whole wheat wrap, but surely the wrap and hummus would have been pre-packaged, and the arugula wouldn’t have been fresh from the garden!  (Though maybe fresh from my CSA… oh how I miss my CSA… but I digress.)

hummus and whole meal roti -- who needs whole foods when you can cook?!
hummus and whole meal roti — who needs whole foods when you can cook?!

I’ve also become quite the pumpkin match maker in the last few months.   There seems to be a lack of pollinating bees here on Koro (or at least the kind keen on pumpkins), so I’ve had to supplement their efforts by learning a thing or two about the secret life of bees.  My eye is now trained to spot female flowers like a hawk in search of prey!  What can I say? I love pumpkin: pumpkin stew, pumpkin bread, pumpkin curry, pumpkin pancakes…  I’ve got to admit, creating sweet pumpkin love gives me quite the chuckle, especially when accompanied by an internal chorus of “here comes the bride” 😉 I now pronounce you stamen and pistil: you may make Carissa dinner!  Necessity apparently breeds creativity, a touch of insanity and small gourds.

my hand-pollinated pumpkin-baby a.k.a. dinner
my hand-pollinated pumpkin-baby a.k.a. dinner

Following my hummus wrap lunch I was faced with clean up, and the realization that (vinaka vakalevu family back in the states) I now have a deluge of spices. This means bottles spilling over my small counter top every time I cook or (even worse for someone who loves to cook) missing the one spice that would complete a dish!  Ahhh what to do?  The easy (ahem, lazy) route would be to buy a shelf.  Oh yes, let’s me and my Peace Corps budget just drive over to the nearest Lowe’s and pick one up… ummm ya, keep dreamin’.

Since purchasing a shelf wasn’t an option I took to the village.  A few kerekere’s later I had a nice big plank of wood hanging above my stove.  Voila–a shelf! And a nice looking one if I do say so myself.  Farm house rustic even?  Necessity happens also to be the mother of original style =P

getting handy!
getting handy!

While looking around for shelf materials I was reminded of my basement back home.  Having resided there forty years, my grandparents had accumulated an abundance of life’s leftovers: piles of bricks from retired buildings, retired chicken wire, left over tiles…  I must admit, I was a bit ashamed when I compared my refuse-ridden basement with the tidy, finished rooms of my friends homes.  “Why hold on to old boards”, I thought in my younger days, “when there are plenty new ones at Home Depot whenever we need them?!” It wasn’t until I built my garden back home, and was encouraged by one wise individual to repurpose whatever I had lying about before spending a cent, that I truly realized the virtue of recycling!  Turns out I even had things lying around that seemed to be junk to me, but were necessary component’s in my friends projects.  Much money is wasted, and good conversation and collaboration missed, when we resort to trashing without thinking and buying without pause.

Well, I don’t mean to make this post a look-at-how-creative-I-am brag-fest!  Rather, I mean to show that we’re all capable of innovation if we have a bit of a push.   Not having the options and materials that you’re used to can either be a nuisance or an opportunity.  In the hustle and bustle of the modern world it’s too easy to decline an occasion for creativity in exchange for extra time for more “productive” endeavors (facebook? pinterest?).

I challenge ya’ll back at home, the next time a difficult scenario arises, to summon your wit and make use of what you already have.  An old dress might make a lovely tablecloth that no Target will show-up!  I guarantee on my PCV honor, whether you come out with a fabulous invention or simply a good laugh, you won’t regret trying 🙂

p.s. your pet will love you even if you aren’t the next Rube Goldberg

obligatory Peace Corps pet shot, my bff and dinner date errrday
“You’re going to do what with that? Hmmmmm…”
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