Wednesday 12 May 2010 Aniwa Island 19 14’S,  169 35’E

So here we are at Aniwa, an island no more than 50 metres high, surrounded by coral and with about 600 inhabitants spread over 3 villages.  After a glorious sail through the night we arrived refreshed around 7:00am, ready for breakfast and in good time to set up the clinic in the main village.  The only vehicle on the island transported the boxes the 10  minutes to the dispensary where a slow stream of patients were seen.  One key observation of the medical team was that the health of the Aniwans was no where near that of the Futunans, in terms of blood pressure and diabetes.  It would seem that the further you are from shops selling western food and the more you engage in physical exercise and the more mountainous is your island, the healthier you are – something in that for all of us I think.

By mid afternoon the clinic wound down and so it was decided that everyone would make their way back to the boat and relax.  The plan was for everyone to go aboard before sunset, have dinner, then go to bed, with the sailors getting the ship away around 3:00am in order to arrive at our next destination – Port Resolution on Tanna Island, at dawn; a short hop south west of about 20 miles.

When we arrived we met Chief David and several other men and admired their very large Wahoo fish, probably around 1.5m long and 30kg in weight, which was caught this morning.  Tony and Scott had thoughts of bartering to buy the fish (yes it’s come to that) and went ashore equipped with blocks of chocolate and two wind up torches, but were told it was going to the island shop.  In the end we bought the fish with cold hard Vatu, about 4,000, or $50AUS.  At the moment we have 15 aboard, it’s about 7:00pm and an enormous meal of fish, rice and tomato pasta sauce is being dished up and devoured.  And in the freezer there is enough for another 3 meals some time in the future.

While the clinic was underway, Tony, Bill and Scott took the opportunity to head up the coast a couple of kilometres in the dinghy to the big lagoon where they snorkeled and swam about under the sun, which finally decided to show itself from behind the clouds after, well, most of the time we have been here.  So Bill was sorting out the anchor rope at the front of the dinghy and what should he find but a small (but highly poisonous and totally deadly … they were Scott and Bill’s words) sea snake.  Yes, you read that correctly, a sea snake in the dinghy.  How it got there is anyone’s guess and before visions on snakes the size of anacondas start crowding your mind, rest assured it was only small and as Tony observed, it was black and white striped, probably with a couple of teeth missing … a typical Collingwood supporter.  Tony did the manly thing with the oar and flicked it over the side, and in case there are any animal loving, snake protecting readers out there, the little critter was unhurt, although it may not have been his/her original lagoon, so there was no doubt a period of disorientation.

Oh, Scott just said, don’t you write that I cooked dinner with Yvonne and Max.  And now that dinner is finished he’s also taken charge of washing dishes and cleaning … what a guy … although I suspect the sharing of this information could have an impact on Scott’s future when he returns to Sydney in a couple of weeks.

As Ruth cuts up a fruit cake, tea and coffee handed around and talk of clinics, medical cases, snorkeling, plans for tomorrow, and sleep fill the air, Jun just came down below to declare he just saw the red glow of the Mt Yasur volcano on the horizon – on Tanna, our destination for tomorrow.

So I’d better wind up now and get some sleep.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and here’s to having 15 people for dinner.

Robert Latimer