Update from Kavieng
04 September 2008 | Kavieng, New Ireland, PNG
Picture is the canoe builder of Garove Island2.9 Tuesday
Captains day off ?
Today I took a day off? I realise readers might think to themselves "OMG a day off but you are having such an interesting time anyway" I appreciate that sentiment but actually we are pretty much 24/7 running the boat, moving the boat from A to B, spending hours on the computer, endless meetings and so on whilst struggling to keep hydrated in 34c so a day without obligations is needed occasionally.
I chose to visit a facinating Island called Garove as a detour on our way back to Kavieng. The Island is the flooded Caldera of a dormant Volcano. Village legends tell of when the island lifted 100m and exposed the land where they built their church and another legend tells of when the wall broke and flodded the crator.
This visit would be the highlight of the trip so far for me. Sailing into a Volcano is an awe inspiring experience and when we got there the people were the friendliest I have ever met in the Pacific. We anchored in 20m then I paddled ashore to seek permission to stay from the Chief. He was away but we were greated enthusiastically by Terrance a young man who met me and spoke good english. Later Terrance came out to the boat on a beautiful dugout and had lunch with us. I love the local dugouts and paddled Terrance ashore followed by the rest of the crew in the inflatable. Soon after arriving we were approached by the most adorable kids and after 10 minutes or so their shyness had dissapeared and we were completely surrounded by 20-30 giggling 2-10 year olds.
Terrance walked us through the village where all the houses were made from the local timbers and thatching. There was a well, no power and pigs everywhere. The school was very pretty and well kept and the coloured pencils, exercise books and local language conservation books we bought were very well received. The church, of course took pride of place and would have easily housed the entire population of 500! I spent a long time talking to the head teacher and learnt that there were 20 kids in the village whose parents could not afford to send them to school. Every election every party promises free schooling for every child but it never happens. School here costs about NZ$100 per year. That amounts to about 5 weeks pocket money for most kids in New Zealand. I am now more determined than ever to see through an idea I had whereby Western schools "adopt" a Pacific School. I think this would be a great opportunity not only to benefit the third world school but also to help a charitable spirit amongst the kids in the western school. If any OceansWatch members want to help me with this please email me.
After the school visit I managed to find the village canoe builder and was shown a couple of canoes that he was building. He asked if I could send him a new adze as he said they were very hard to find these days. So if any readers know where to buy an adze please tell me.
Before dinner we had a leasurely paddle around the bay and chatted to the locals as they came in from fishing. The kids here were great, we had them on the boat for a couple of hours and never heard a cross word. They were just fascinated to meet us and thrilled to be on the boat. I was very saddened to hear from Terrance that the last boat that visited (in 2007) would not allow anyone on their boat and did not come ashore. I am shocked at the insensitivity sometimes that is displayed by the visiting yachts. The anchorage is effectively the village back garden. If a housetruck parked in a western garden, did not seek permission to stay and then shunned all friendly advances it would be considered very rude. The same applies in these situations.
On Monday Irene and I visited the offices of The Nature Conservancy. TNC was responsible for setting up the Kimbe Bay MPA in the first place but has now taken more of a back seat whilst Mahonia Na Dari look after the MPA on a day to day basis and handle most of the community liason.
TNC use a form of ReefCheck to do their monitoring but have no real need of help from OceansWatch as James Cook University visit annually to conduct surveys. In a similar way to what I found in Vanuatu ReefCheck has been adopted and used locally but once again non of the data is being sent to the International database. With a view to insuring that does not happen with any surveys from OceansWatch we have set up some spreadsheets that we hope will cover the need of both the local and International communities.
As none of the local reefs were suitable for ReefCheck Leila and Jeges had a dive with one of the local resort boats.
Sunday morning was spent being shown around and learning all about the NGO Mahonia Na Dari by Lorna. This was a facinating time for us and much was learnt. This NGO is very lucky to have a great source of income from houses it was left by a now defunct EU Aid project. EU aid projects seem to be a bit of a joke in PNG and follow a pattern of rushing in with loads of money and a grand scheme with no local buy in. After spending a fortune trying to get the locals to see it their way they throw in the towel, abandon everything and move onto the next grand scheme that someone behind a desk in Brussels has decided would be good for PNG.
In the afternoon I caught up with OceansWatch emails on the slowest wireless network I have ever used (receive 30, send 16 emails took 4 hours) whilst the rest of the team dived one of the local reefs.
Blog by Irene
We left Kimbe to go to the western Bay where the Walindi resort is early in the morning but due to it being Saturday not many people at the different NGOs were working. We did however meet Lorna who runs the education program for kids at Mahonia Na Dari and scheduled a meeting with her for the next day. In the afternoon we had an investigative dive. The diving was spectacular but the reef flats were too shallow for ReefCheck (