Sunday, July 13, 2014

In Search of Magic and Lobsters

Awei Island is beautiful. It is a calm anchorage with a nice breeze. The folks who travel by us in their canoes are friendly and offer fresh fruit or veggies. You just sit here and the market comes to you. We've already traded for some drinking coconuts, kumara (sweet potatoes), pawpaws (papayas), "local" cabbage (a leafy thing) and our friends on "Lady Nada" brought us some "white bone" (bok choy) and peppers from a farmer in Port Sandwich. So we can simply sit here at anchor and get supplied.

We have enjoyed several walks in the area. We have trekked along the pretty beaches in search of "magic sea rocks." We walked along the flats at low tide looking into tide pools and through the sea grasses. We hiked into the small and pretty village where Chief Savron lives. And, we've crossed a trail to the windward side to see a magnificent long sandy beach. During these treks we've found many a treasure.

Our first hunt was for the island's "magic sea rocks." These are a quartz rock with mystical powers – or so the legend goes. Sorcerers would have these special rocks and when they hit them together they would create a blue flash. This flash would signal the spirits and create a bad storm. This would enable the sorcerer to use his magic against enemies who were at sea in their canoes. It would also allow the sorcerer to have much power over the islanders because he could control the weather. Our search for these rocks was quite successful. We found many on the beaches below large rock cliffs. You could actually see veins of quartz in the rock on the cliffs. Our goal is to keep these magic rocks from crashing into each other and therefore maintain good weather! They may make good Christmas presents!

On another walk, we found our first nautilus shell. These are very beautiful and though this one is far from a perfect one, it is our first. We have hunted for years to find one and now the goal will be to find a more perfect one to replace this cracked one. But it was fun to at least find our first.

On Friday night, Michael along with Bill from "Lady Nada" and Tim and Sandy from aboard "1 Giant Leap" went hunting lobsters on the reef at low tide at 2200 (10 pm). They looked like aliens out there on the reef with their headlamps on and flashlights. The moon was almost full so they thought it would be happy hunting. They walked along for almost 90 minutes in their search and came back with empty bags. Tim and Sandy saw a cuttlefish, Michael found a beautiful cowrie shell and they all came back with a few scrapes – but lobster-less. It was a fun adventure nonetheless.

The Chief of Awei was supposed to join them for this reef adventure and he would probably know exactly where to look for the tasty critters. We would provide shoes and lights for him and arranged to meet him on the beach at 2100 (9pm)...but unfortunately he couldn't come. The next morning he canoed out to the boat to let us know why. There was a tragedy on the island of Efate. A boat from this area had tipped over and 37 people had to be rescued from the sea and four people died. These were some of his relatives. The other tragedy is, that was the only vessel to make the trip from Malakula to the main island of Efete regularly – so now these folks will also be without that transportation. Island living can be very difficult.

Yesterday was Saturday and it seemed every kid from the surrounding islands was out in a dugout canoe fishing or "playing." Many stopped by our boat and would chat. These are incredibly happy kids – always laughing, smiling or singing. On our walk to the long sandy beach on the other side, we had a crew of them hanging around and asking a hundred questions. They speak some English – but the questions were quite funny. "What do you eat?" "What is the name of your village?" "Who is your chief?" "How old are you?" "Do you have any pickininni (that is their Bislama word for children)?" Their hair is quite coarse, dark and short. They thought Barbara's hair was unusual and wouldn't take their hands off of it. This was followed by the question, "Do you have louse (meaning lice)?" That made Barbara quickly put her hat back on!!!

This is really a great place but we'll have to tear ourselves away from it and start moving on to the next island – Epi. It looks like tomorrow may be a good day to do that because the winds will be more south and our course is east southeast. It's about 25 miles away. But today, more bottom cleaning, perhaps a snorkel if the wind settles a bit and we're certain to have more canoe visitors as the day progresses.

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