Sunday 19 July 9:42 PM (Vureas Bay, Vanua-lava Island)

Yesterday’s clinic here at Vureas Bay was not very well attended.  Apparently most in the villagers were off tending their gardens up the nearby valleys and mountains.  As a result, the chief of the region – Chief Graham – requested that a clinic be conducted today – Sunday – and asked everyone to attend.  For most, this would have been a dilemma given that much of Sunday is normally given over to church.

We’d met this fellow, Chief Graham, the day before.  He’d paddled his canoe out for a chat and to assist us in finding a part of the bay in which to anchor where the roll was not so severe.

We had a few other locals out to the boat yesterday and with the prospect of a Sunday rest day today we arranged to sail up the coast to the spectacular Waterfall Bay.  One of the Ni-vans was Chief Graham, who Dr Graeme Duke warmed to for obvious reasons.  So we had both a doctor and a chief on board.

One lad the medical team were hoping to locate in doing a clinic at Vatrata – read yesterday’s message “All aboard for the Vanualava Express“, was Adison.  The boy who was sent to Australia 3 years before for cranial-facial surgery.  It was important to locate the boy in order to monitor his post operative  development.  As it turned out, Adison wasn’t at Vatrata – he was at Waterfall Bay.  So someone was sent down the track 2 hours, to let him know that he would be getting a visit the next day.

We got away to Waterfall Bay around 8:00am this morning and set a dinghy record of 10 persons off the beach in one go.  The passengers included 4 Ni-Vans, plus one more – Adison’s mother Madelaine, who Chris picked up in the dinghy from the challenging rock ledge at Vatrata, which was on the way.

Once at Waterfall Bay, and it is truly well named, the “flying medical team” quickly found Adison and he was declared fit and well, although the special glasses that were made and sent to him a year ago were found not to have arrived.

Don and Meg were delighted to be reunited with Adison again, given that it was them that effectively rescued him from village isolation and an almost certain premature death.  They also hosted him for the best part of a year at their home in Valencia Creek, Gippsland (Vic)while he undertook surgery.

While the medical team did their businss, the rest of us walked the short distance to the waterfall where we waded in for a swim and wash. (for some)

Maybe do a Google search for “Waterfall bay Vanuatu” and see what you come up with.  It was an amazing sight from the sea – a massive waterfall coming down a mountain onto the beach, and was an amazing place to swim.

Our return to Vureus Bay, after the lightening trip to Waterfall Bay, was to be around 1:00pm.  At which time the medical team that had worked the Sunday shift would be ready to come aboard for the hop south to Sola on the  south east corner of the island.  Unfortunately, the 25 knot wind from the south east, which had given us a dream run north to Waterfall bay, caused us to throw in a number of tacks on the way back, making for a lively and slower jaunt.

So it was decided to remain the night at Vureas Bay and make our way south to Sola early tomorrow.  We pick the medical volunteers up off the beach around 6:00am tomorrow morning.  After dropping half of the team off at Sola, where they’ll be running a clinic, the current plan is to make a dash out to the island of Mota for around lunch time, in order to run a clinic there also.

Around 6:00pm chief Graham returned to Chimere in his canoe and showed us the finer points of making and consuming Kava.  When he’d asked me earlier in the day whether I drank Kava I’d said no.  But the ceremonial aspects of it seemed more important to him than simply getting “modified” by the stuff, so I said a small bit would be good to experience.  So, as it was getting dark he parked his canoe against the dinghy and clambered aboard with a bag of roots, and crushing stone, two big bowls and a purpose-bought fabric strainer, which did look a lot like an expensive pair of ladies underpants.  (Although I’m no judge in these matters)

Chief Graham was true to his word and did not impose vast quantities on us, but it must have taken an hour to crush the roots sufficently to make the stuff.  he didn’t bring any cups, so I found the smallest drinking vessel on board and used that for me, although he used the big cup which was used to dish it out to the rest of us.

After the obligatory skull of the liquid I found it had very little effect, and even a couple of hours later I could barely detect any change, but it’s now pushing 11:00pm and I think there might be some delayed reaction, particularly when it comes to English expression and writing a sensible message for the website.

Hopefully I don’t look at this tomorrow and say, “what on earth did I meant by that”.

When Chief Graham finally paddled off into the dark, pitching sea, we couldn’t help comment that he might have needed a designated paddler, and that he’d have to watch out for the Kava Bus.  I was tempted to call out, “take the back way”.

At the moment, it’s time for bed!!

Smooth seas, fair breeze, and a ceremonial farewell.

Rob