Tuesday 19 May, 7.36pm (anchored at Port Resolution)
Family will appreciate the significance of today’s heading. But for the benefit of all, there are many things Andrew does, but swimming and frolicking amongst the waves is not one of them – at least not since last century when the kids were little and it seemed a father’s duty to endure the sand, the flies, the sun and the heat in the interests of passing on the “Aussie beach experience” to the next generation.
But there’s something about Port Resolution that has brought out the little boy in Andrew. So, armed only with his shorts and broad smile he dived amongst the waves with the rest of us. Bob was there too after first diving off Chimere’s deck rail in a sign of boyhood abandon. “I used to do somersaults when I dived.” said Bob, just before he took the plunge. “If I did it now I’d probably land on my back”
I suppose you could say today was something of a lay-day. A day of fixing things aboard, running the generator to re-charge the batteries, making bread, swimming, walking onshore, chatting with the locals and getting to know the members of the … wait for it … Romanian Seventh Day Adventist church, who have been here for several weeks building a church meeting house and building a new medical clinic in the local village. Yes, I must say, we too were surprised to find a band of dedicated, friendly Romanian Seventh Day Adventist church members here in the back blocks of southern Tanna.
Well it just so happens that Kathy has worked six times in Romania, over the past 8 years, with orphaned children, so even though the church members came from far away places such as Bayswater (VIC Australia), USA, UK and Ireland and spoke perfect English, Kathy was able to greet them in their native tongue – to their very great surprise.
Having mentioned Andrew above, it’s probably appropriate to include something of his recent email home, which gives a slightly different perspective on our activities …
Part of Andrew’s email home…
… on Friday we caught a small plane, plus all our gear to Tanna, having arrived in Pt Vila the day before. On arrival we piled our gear into a landcruiser ute and it only just managed to fit it all. (glad it wasn’t raining) Then we had to get in on top of it. We drove slowly to Lenakel so that no one would fall off.
It was a magic moment to see Chimere through the trees as we arrived. I had a little 2way radio in my pocket which I got out and tried. Suddenly Rob’s voice came through – we had contact! The medical team stayed in little huts and I went on board Chimere. Rob gave me a big hug. It was wonderful to be there. Lenakel is a dangerous anchorage so we had a few days of worry, but the new anchor has been fantastic. (It’s a ROCNA if anyone in the boating world is reading this – call that a product placement)
The medical team started work on Sunday and I helped out where I could. I learnt to dispense the glasses after people had been prescribed a particular type. They had a choice of 3 colours and a few styles. I thought the girls would go for the nice coloured ones but they didn’t. They are very conservative. Everyone has beautiful smiles and a ready “hello” and a wave.
We met a girl with one leg. What a wonderful woman. Some of her story and history was explained to me by Meg MacRaild. Apparently she was born with only half a pelvis and her insides outside (as it was explained to us) They sewed her up and waited for her to die. But she didn’t. Her father told her mother to get rid of her or he would leave the wife.
The grandmother took the child and raised her. At age 8 the girl decided she wanted to go to school, so she walked with her crutch 10.5km there and back every day to go to school. Apparently she was the first there and the last to leave each day.
Unfortunately she failed year 6 and that meant she was not allowed to repeat or go on to high school. But the girl was determine and her grandmother was supportive and so she changed her name and enrolled the girl in another school. After another year she passed her exams and went on to high school where she did very well. She then did a business course but no one would employ a deformed person. She then enrolled in a church run course for working with children and in social work. She did so well they wanted her to go on and do a degree. She said no, she wanted to return to Tanna where she now works as a social worker amongst her own people. When we met her on Saturday she had a gorgeous gaggle of children with her that she was caring for. Meg knew her and when they met there were big hugs and tears all round.
Sunday was a rest day and a church day. Rob went to church, Bob and I looked after the boat and Kathy and Will went exploring. The church service went for 3 hours! The weather on Sunday was terrible with wild squalls. Lenakel is not a good place in those conditions. Then on Monday we left and sailed to Port Resolution where it is just magic. There are mountains all around and hidden from view is the volcano. We may get to see it next Sunday evening. Now and then smoke and ash billow up, which we see behind the hills around the anchorage – lucky the wind tends to blow the ash away from us!!
In the jungle that clings to the slopes around us, here in the anchorage, steam vents let off spurts of steam. At the rocky edge of the bay in many places we can see boiling water bubbling up. We have been doing maintenance today and then decided to go for a swim. So we drove the dinghy to a magic little beach then walked through the jungle to the ocean where we had a swim in beautiful clear water – at the perfect temperature.
The villages here are very traditional. The concept of rubbish doesn’t exist. It is fascinating to watch the fishermen tend their nets using traditional dugout canoes. In the villages they have veg gardens, pigs and chooks. Somewhere here abouts there are some cattle. Will and Kathy are going to the volcano on horse back tomorrow. It has taken a bit of organising. I think they have to catch the horses first! Tomorrow the medical team will catch up with us and on Thursday we will take them up the coast a bit for more clinics….
Smooth seas, fair breeze and this day Andrew went for a swim
PS Stop Press: Tonight’s dinner was another first for Bob (et al) As the dinner of meat, beans and rice was presented, the usual call went up … “What do you call this darl?”. It’s my mystery preparation says Kathy, do you want to know? … “No, don’t tell us”. Then after it’s all over, and we’d finished eating the chocolate cake with icing for dessert (another first for Bob) which Kathy had also prepared … Kathy came out with it … “The dinner was made with tofu”. “TOFU? Toxic Tofu? I heard someone say (me). “Well that wasn’t so bad”, said Bob. And we all agreed. Tofu is a tasty, if not tricky substitute for meat!