Sunday 9 August 2009, Pt Vila.

Yes, it’s more than just a malicious rumour.  Today I turn 50. So tomorrow I officially enter my second half-century.  Lets hope you are all around to celebrate with me in another 50 years when I enter my third half-century.

“Oh, 50, that’s so young.  I wish I was 50 again”, says one person.  “Wow 50, how do you feel?”, says another.  “You don’t look a day over 49” someone says.

It’s funny,I’m sure the mind and the body age at different rates.  And as someone once said, “the mind keeps writing cheques but the body can’t always cash them”.

So last night there were over 20 of us at the Melanesian Sunday BBQ Night, with Kustom dancing, string band and Kava tasting (optional).  It was a wonderful night.  Linda had gone to a lot of trouble with party hats and birthday cake and candles.  The birthday cake was brought out towards the end of the evening by resort staff with the string band playing (what seemed like) all 10 verses of “Happy Birthday” – you had to be there.

Yesterday we all took on the “Round Island Tour”, 19 into 3 minivans, which was something of a convoy.  I must say, having seen so many islands, bays, villages and headlands over the past few months, I thought it might have been a bit of a routine tourist affair.  But it really was good value and very enjoyable and informative.  It was a big day, taking in 140 km of coastal road – some of which are a bit dodgy.  It was also great to see how everyone in the tour party enjoyed themselves, experiencing something of the Ni-van culture and welcome we have felt during our time here

Apart from the tour and the gathering last night, there’s not a lot to report.

One of the things which didn’t make a Ships Log some 3 weeks ago, and which Mike alluded to in his recent report about running film nights in remote villages, was my right foot.  Sounds like a good title for a Hollywood movie doesn’t it, “My Right Foot”.  Anyway, I think Linda had been off the plane last Thursday about an hour when she said, “What have you done to your ankle?”

At the time the ankle was healing nicely and was about half the size it was when the fully laden dinghy was thrown on top of me by a wave on a steep, black sandy beach in Vureas Bay, Vanua Lava.

Anyway, wouldn’t you know, just when all the doctors and medical personnel had gone home the ankle decides to become infected.  So that explains the pain, swelling and redness

But it looks like the saga will have a happy ending.  A late night phone call to Graeme Duke, (who’s become known of late as “doctor by appointment to the Latimer household”, given the amount of on-the-spot attention he’s been freely giving) intervention by my podiatrist brother-in-law, Paul, (after all, the ankle IS connected to the foot)   hands-on prodding from physiotherapist (retired) Barry Newman and lots of love and fussing from Linda and Robyn and Mike Clarke, plus the use of some antibiotics which I had in the ship’s medical case – seems to have put the ankle on the mend.  It’s certainly less painful.

When I was first “attacked” by the dinghy, (our onboard doctor) Graeme Duke had a look at the injury and it was felt that the malaria tablets we were taking, Doxycyclone, would be a good enough antibiotic to keep it on the mend. All I had to do was keep it clean.  The other advice, of rest, keeping the ankle elevated and out of water, was taken on board, then duly ignored!

Tomorrow, the big white ship, she sail again into Pt Vila!!  Buy your goods yesterday, or the day after, they all say.

As it turns out, the minister from North Ringwood Uniting Church, Ian Hickingbotham and his wife Elizabeth are aboard this ship – another one of those coincidences.  Quite independently of our medical sailing agenda, Ian and his two brothers (and their wives) were planning a holiday together last December and picked a cruise. Then when all the details were locked in he said to me in February, “when will you be in Pt Vila?  Because our ship is there on 10 August”.

So tomorrow we’ll grab an hour or so together, as they make the most of their 10 hour stay.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and here’s to the next 50

Rob