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Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 10-12, 2010; Enjoying Tanna's Port Resolution

We fully recovered from our recent early morning activities by sleeping in until 8 :00 AM on Friday. Then we walked over to the beautiful white sand beach on the other side of the peninsula where there are a few "backpacker" style resorts. The beaches in this bay are black sand and are beautiful but the ashy sand is very difficult to get out of clothes and skin. In fact each time we go to shore, we land on a black beach, hike up a steep black ash/sand hill and walk along a black ash path to wherever we are heading. The village dirt is black ash. The locals are quite accustomed to it and the children comfortable playing in it, but each time we return to the dinghy we are covered in it and our feet seem to attract globs of black mud as if magnetic. After a few days you begin not to even notice it, but each time we return to the boat we seriously wash off as soon as we hit the stern's sugar scoop, before even going on deck.

Our visit to the white sand beach was very pleasant, and the sparking aquamarine water so inviting and yet I chose not to swim. I'd worn a swimsuit beneath my shorts and shirt and had planned to swim but apparently although there were holiday bungalows on this side, we were still in an area of express modesty when it comes to baring bodies, even in a one-piece swimsuit. All other female visitors at the beach were frolicking fully clothed in the water. Although it was quite hot and I was practically drooling over the opportunity to hit the water, I did not want to get all of my clothes wet. I had visions of walking back to through the black ash and sand village dripping wet and ending up back at the dinghy looking like one of the "mud" people. So Julia and I chose a nice shady spot in the sand to sit and chat. Frank was trying to heal a newly opened wound - a skin burn from a slide across the deck he took while filleting our fish and getting hit with a slammer of a wave - so he had to keep the sore covered and dry. He chose to sit and have a beer while we all watched Ian have a nice long swim.

On the way back to the village I took some goodies to the locals and in return Miriam (Stanley's sister) gave me a couple of Paw Paw (papayas). I told her that I wanted to bring some things to them but didn't know what they needed, i.e., clothing, rice, flour, etc. She pulled me aside and said, "I want a cake. Will you make me a cake?" Of all the things she could have asked for she wanted a cake! Within minutes, Julia and another lady, Sofia both told me that Miriam had also asked them to bake her a cake. So I asked Miriam if it was for a celebration or for someone's birthday. She told me no, it was for her. I didn't quite know what to make of that and so I agreed. As I was walking away I was told by two other cruisers that they were making cakes for Miriam. What on earth? Well, I was down to one cake mix which is Frank's favorite and not wanting to prepare one from scratch I made a decision not to make her a cake. I baked chocolate chip cookies instead, and put together a little care package for her and the rest of her family that included colored pencils, notebooks and stickers for the children, clothes for the ladies, packages of pens for the school and prints of the pictures we'd taken at their village and at the Circumcision Ceremony.

I had spent the better part of our Saturday morning baking the cookies and printing those pictures (our photo printer is very slow). We went to shore after lunch intending to drop off the goods and then meet Ian and Julia at the yacht club afterward. We took the bundle over to Miriam and when I presented her with the large bag full of cookies she could not hide her disappointment that it was not a cake. For a brief moment I felt the urge to snatch them back because we would have loved to have kept those home made cookies for ourselves, but I smiled and told her I thought since so many others were making cakes I wanted to do something special and different for her. Then I showed her the pictures. The ladies and the children all gathered round excitedly wanting to see them. They were absolutely thrilled! Because I had my camera with me they all posed and asked me to take their pictures and then one of the young mothers asked me to take her camera back to the boat and print some of her pictures for them. Their reactions and smiles made the hours of printing worthwhile. As I was walking away, she ran out to me and presented me with a pretty bag that she had woven.

We returned to the boat that evening and just as I was about to go down to start dinner, a local man paddled over in his outrigger asking if we wanted to buy a lobster. We told him we didn't' have many Vatu left but that we could trade for the lobster. He settled for a t-shirt and two pair of Frank's old shorts. The lobster he presented us was a monster - I wish I'd taken a photo - and was fully cooked. We had previously discovered there is a boiling hot spring at the water's edge at the back of this bay that emits enough steam to cook food, and that is where a lot of the locals do their cooking. This lobster was steamed there. It was large enough to feed us both and was so sweet, tender and delicious we finished every morsel, leaving us moaning that we were stuffed like pigs! Man that was a good trade.
I spent the entire morning on Sunday printing more pictures and making photo CD's and a DVD of the video shots we had been taking of the activities at Tanna. After lunch we ran those in to distribute to various grateful recipients, and then we returned to Destiny to plan our next stop. We agreed with "Moasi" to leave at 6:00 AM, Monday, for Erromango, Vanuatu. Frank and I settled in for a very early dinner and a movie (Salt with Angelina Jolie). Then we both fell asleep reading "Shantaram".

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