Hurricanes and shoe advertising executives
22 May 2010 | Rabi Island
Michael and Jackie
We have been anchored in Albert Cove, or more correctly Motawa Bay, all by ourselves for the last few days. Most places on Rabi Island have two names. Motawa is the Banabian name, and is used by the three inhabitants. Today our splendid isolation was interrupted by the arrival of a strange looking ship. It had three masts and it disgorged 8 or 9 Americans on to the beach at about 7am this morning. Turns out they were advertising executives for a shoe company. They had chartered the Fijian boat for a fortnight to go looking for places to photograph shoes, beach shoes and sandals. Guess they must be quite expensive shoes. They had not had much success since there has been a lot of cloud and rain for the last few days, and even more forecast. Our grib (computerised weather forecast) showed grey, and it poured. Tomorrow it is jet black. We had put away our clears (plastic windows) and replaced them with shades. However the clears seem to be coming back at the moment.
We decided there was nothing to lose, so set off in the kayaks anyway. It's a bit like being in the Lake District. You may as well go out and get wet. After all it isn't cold. So we did a long kayaking trip through blinding rain to some more distant beaches Jackie saw a scary eel. However, the most striking thing was the damage that the recent hurricane had done. Most of the palm trees along the coastline have lost their leaves, and a lot have been uprooted. Inland from the beaches tree trunks are strewn around. But from the seemingly dead trunks leaves are already sprouting and new growth is forming.
Two brothers, along with the wife of the younger brother live here. the older brother lives here he said because he cannot walk but at Motawa Bay he can swim every day. It is not so easy to swim at the village, which is about two hours away,. To get there you have to climb along the rocky foreshore, since there is no road. They told us of the big wind and how scared they were. They live in small wooden huts just back from the beach. They hid in the corner, and later sheltered in a nearby cave, after they lost their roofs. Now proudly replaced. The roofs are made from plaited coconut leaves. The brothers have a few chickens, and four pigs each. We met with a proud sow who had just had eight piglets. Apart from the pigs and chickens they do a bit of fishing and have a few plants. All the banana plants were wiped out in the hurricane. You cannot even buy bananas in Savu Savu. The long leaves are just torn off by high winds. The plants however rarely die and they are all now regrowing, although it will be a few years before there is a decent crop again.
Following the hurricane a "millionaire from England or America" gave them a fresh water tank and a solar panel to power a light. So now a white led shines out from the lonely bay. The brothers were keen to give us gifts of lemons, and we responded with some tins and food that we had on board. They asked if we had any sugar. We do not carry much but we are taking what we have tomorrow, in return for a coconut. The poverty and simplicity of their lifestyle was a sharp contrast to the world of the advertising executives, who after a bit of swimming headed off back to the US.
At present we are having to send messages using the SSB radio since the satellite linkup is not working well. Our satphone is fine if anyone needs to contact us. The problem is with the Iridium server, and only affects our email. So no photos until we get a faster connection.