20 July 2017
We met Tui at "The Bus Stop", a wooden platform built around the village square mango tree. We were introduced by our adopted "guide" who we'd been allocated by the first man to meet us. (A bit like our friend Arthur when he first arrived in Largs).
The village early warning system had kicked in and our presence in the anchorage was noted. As mentioned previously, it's essential in the Fiji islands to do the Playsticks ceremony, presenting a gift of Kava to the village Chief and on our first morning we duly had the chief's man waving to us from the beach, summoning us ashore for the Sevusevu ceremony. A 45 minute trek along the beach and through the jungle took us to the village; we're getting used to this rush hour commute, where we were led "our man's" corrugated clad wooden shack to be briefed on the upcoming process. Having taken his commission, one of our boats' worth of kava, (they might be in the backwoods, or indeed, back jungle, but there's room for enterprise) , we proceeded to the chiefs house for the very serious introductions, mutterings, mumblings and clapping. Two or three of the elders appeared, one looking remarkably like my old dad.
Duly welcomed, we were introduced to our "guide" who would show us around whenever we were in the village. Quite why they chose the village's only deaf and dumb guy is beyond us but he's turned out a real gem although building an understanding of what makes things tick is difficult.
Back at the Bus Stop, we meet Mr Tui who waves me over, sticks a finger wrapped in dirty old cloth in my face and asks if we've got any medical stuff. Good Girl Guide that she is, Anne of course has some basics in her back pack but, having spotted that state of the external wound wrapping isn't quite Girl Guide enough to get close.
It's therefore left to me to get Tui to unwrap the improvised cloth bandage revealing, YE GODS, as severe, in fact, the only case of gangrene I've ever seen. Or was it? It was certainly green, weeping and generally yucky. Quite a long way outside my comfort zone.
Fortunately it turned out the gangrene was in fact the squished, bloodied remains of a tree leave. Natural medicine at work.....or not as was patently the case. I asked Tui to wash it out in the bucket of water at his feet but no way. Water's precious. We therefore dabbed it with a paper tissue but I'm not sure I made a friend when I squirted on our antiseptic gel but I got a real high jump. Tui had been husking coconuts, a process that involves driving a sharpened steel rod or tree branch into the ground then standing astride the sharpened the implement and swinging a fresh coconut in a downward arc onto the pointy end. This splits the outer husk, and apparently fingers. The infection potential was high so we did our best to drag him to the village nurse but, no way. So we shopped him to her! Hopefully she will be able to get it properly cleaned up before it's to late.
We also had an IT session involving programming a Garmin GPS that a visiting yacht from last year had donated to one of the fishermen. These guys will go 20 or 30 miles out into the ocean aiming for outer islands in their one engine, 25 foot open glass fibre Pangas. No map, no compass and until last year, only this non programmed GPS. I spent an hour putting in waypoints for his target islands and have spent the night worrying if they're right. One wrong key stroke and this poor guy could just disappear over the horizon.
Back in the village, we've done a pitch at the school showing the kids our (or Peat Smoke's) charts of the Pacific islands, family pictures, holiday snaps etc.... The ones that really got them going were snow and our motorbike. Kids eh!