There are three boats in the anchorage near Awei Island in the Maskelynes. One is Nalukai, a catamaran with a family of five – three young girls Phoebe, Hattie and Willow and their parents Jeremy and Iona from Australia. We have enjoyed spending some time with them – teaching them cribbage and doing an island project. The concrete water tank in the village has a leak so collecting water in what is predicted to be a dry season is difficult. Michael and Jeremy went with one of the villagers, Nasi across to the mainland and collected large bamboo. Then in the afternoon, we all went ashore to put up bamboo rain gutters on the one building that has a tin roof. The bamboo got sawed in half with a lot of effort – Jeremy and Michael taking turns with the saw and the "girls" sitting on the bamboo to keep it stable. Luckily Jeremy had a good new saw for the effort. Then with some webbing and a few screws, the bamboo got mounted in the edge of the roof. It should be an improvement to what they had previously – and can at least collect more water during a rainstorm in buckets and containers. We have put in a request to get a plastic water tank to the village and a few other folks are working on that with the various aid organizations working in this area.
Once that project was completed, the next few days were spent exploring the area's beautiful beaches. This is the home of the "magic rocks" so we went looking for the most magical ones on two occasions. One day we walked through the woods in a valley to get to the long beach on the other side and then worked our way back along the beach. We found some pretty shells and magic rocks and had a good hike.
The gardens we walked passed in the woods were coming along after the cyclone – though there is definitely a shortage of bananas. Lots of trees – little fruit yet. The villagers have had to do lots of clearing of large trees that fell during the storm. The paths now take you around large fallen trees and newly planted ones. You can see how hard these folks who live a subsistence lifestyle have had to work after a devastating storm.
The small local canoes paddle or sail by to go to their "gardens" or to fish and often stop by for a visit and chat. It is a chance to practice our Bislama (the official language of Vanuatu). Its been fun to see some folks we met here last year row by and stop and say hello. Two young children from the village on Awei actually canoe across by themselves everyday to go to the school in another village. They leave in their version of a school bus every morning at 7 am to make the hour paddle across – these are primary school children!
The wind is still blowing 20-25 most days, but we are quite protected nestled between the Malakula main island and Awei. It does seem that this season has heavier than normal trade winds supposedly because of the El Nino year.
We like it here and will probably stick around a few more days at least. Michael is still trying to locate the leak in the engine cooling system and getting some other projects started/done.
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