20 May 2014 | Aneityum
Barbara & Simon. Windy
We got dried out and caught up on a bit of sleep before heading on shore yesterday, with a couple from another yacht. We found the police station, a little concrete building with the police checkered paint running round it, like on the brim of a cap. The policeman was very laid back, in boardies, t-shirt and jandals and efficiently completed all the necessary paper work in about half an hour. We wandered through the houses made of woven palms to the shop, where we had a very warm welcome from Sarahlin. She sold us some fruit, bread (deep fried) and banana chips (also deep fried) and then took us to her house and gave us more fruit and bananas! Everyone seems exceptionally happy and friendly. We are just sitting down now to a gin and pamplemousse cocktails, with the sounds of a soccer game and some cockerels that crow all day, in the background. There are 2 schools here, a primary and junior secondary, which we hope to visit.
Last night, we were invited to a cultural festival, along with several other yachties. Keith, the MC, told us that the purpose of these festivals was partly to raise funds for the community and partly to revive traditions which have been overlooked since the Europeans came. Very much like Gaelic and Maori, there is a strong desire to preserve these traditions and engage the young people in their culture. The evening was a lot of fun, with traditional costume, all of us being given a savusavu (necklace of sandalwood leaves), a demonstration of fire lighting without matches, dancing (in which even Simon was on the floor) and then the cava ceremony. The cava was very strong and you could choose to drink "full tide" - half a coconut full or "half tide". I chose the half, but it was pretty full. Suddenly, everyone is clapping and you have to down it in one! It made your lips go numb and within a few minutes, your head swim, but fortunately there was a feast of local food to help restore normality!
Today has been very windy. So windy, in fact, that a cruise ship with 3000 people on board decided not to come in and anchor at Mystery Island and the twice weekly plane flew over the airstrip and then left again! We have spent the day on board as we have still got long 'to do' lists. We have been swimming and have turtles swimming past the boat. Tomorrow, if the wind abates, we hope to go ashore, where Keith is going to guide us on a 9km walk to a local waterfall and take us to the school. Still hard to believe we are here, but the coconut palm lined beaches, bananas and coral reefs, mean that it is true!