May 4, 2005

It’s been at about 5 days since I last wrote in the journal. Lots has happened since then. First, I should say that everything is going well except that Jonah has been ill for about 2 days and the doctor suspects Malaria. They started him on meds yesterday with an injection of Artemedine, a new anti-malarial which is supposed to be very effective. We picked up the same med (artesunate) in tablet form at the pharmacy and he is taking those daily for 7 days. They also gave us a one time dose of fansidor which he takes on day 4 of the course. Apparently results are always better when two (or more?) meds are given together.

When we took the boy to the hospital yesterday at noon he was feverish and achy and could barely walk. Unfortunately I could not carry him as my back has been killing me lately. Both Jonah and I have been on antibiotics since the 30th with streptococcal infections – my in my throat (strep throat) and Jonah with a huge puss filled boil on his chin. We suspect this was caused by unsanitary conditions at Kapingamarangi. According to our texts this bacteria is highly infectious and most likely Jonah picked it up playing on the beach with the local kids and then gave it to me. Because he had been on erythromycin for 3 days when we brought him in they were almost certain it was malaria. They took blood and we got the results today but they were negative. According to the doctor a false negative is possible when the parasite is in the liver and the blood has cooked them off with high fever, at least I think that is what he said since his English was not excellent. He said to continue the anti-malaria meds and the antibiotics for the full course.

We got him home at about 2pm and he slept a few hours and woke up at about 4:30pm starving and in excellent spirits. The change was remarkable. According to our medical texts, it is common with malaria to experience a sea-saw of symptoms with periods of bad symptoms separated by hours or days of no symptoms. Last night at about 2am he awoke and vomited several times over the course of 2 hours then slept till this morning and had more nausea until about 9am when he seemed to recover. Since then (it is now about 2pm) he has been fine and is in good spirits – he even danced a bit when we gave him a Fanta Orange soda.

On other fronts things are going well. Yesterday morning we took the boat over to the commercial pier and filled up our tanks with diesel. We took about 560 liters which is about 148 US Gallons. As usual, I thought we would need more. We spent about 1,344 Kina which is about US$480 for a per gallon price of about $3.25. Not great but not terrible. We have paid more (in New Caledonia for example, a French territory) and we have paid (much) less (in Majuro, Marshall Islands where fuel is subsidized by the government we paid $1.34 per gallon).

This morning I picked up a new engine starting battery. Ours has been dead for about 3 months; we discovered it was dead the day we left Pohnpei. We have been using the house bank to start the engine which is fine but its better to have 2 separate battery banks to protect against one going flat. It took me about 3 hours to get the old one out and the new one in and hooked up. The new battery is a liquid acid (normal) 100ah battery so it was easily managed by one person. The old battery is a 125ah AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery which weighs almost double, about 150lbs. I tried to get Kate to help me lift it but she couldn’t even budge her side. I zipped over to the shore near the market where young men are often hanging out and picked offered 10Kina (about $3.50) and had 3 offers of help. I took one guy out to the boat and we had the old one out and the new one in place in about 5 minutes. Easy money.

We’re also having trouble with the outboard now. It seems to stall after running for a short time when throttling down and then won’t start again for a while or starts but won’t develop any power above idle then it stalls again. I changed the plugs and cleaned out the fuel filter (I suspected the problem was a dirty filter or water in the fuel filter) but alas the problem persists, though it is intermittent which makes it even harder to diagnose. A local dive guide has offered to help and he is apparently experienced with Yamaha outboards.

Two days ago we went to speak to a fellow named Douglas about buying meat. He owns a shop a small grocery in town and was recommended by an English fellow we met who runs a seafood storage and sales operation (they ship frozen fillets, lobster tails, etc. to the US, Australia and Asia). Douglas, who is Chinese, is 3rd generation in Kavieng and runs the family business handed down from his grandfather who started it. He met his wife, Paulina, in Hong Kong where they both worked in the finance industry before they married. They are a lovely couple and have 2 young boys ages 1 and 3. They have a home in Brisbane, Australia as well and he was educated in Australia. Both are very friendly, well educated and quite interesting to talk with.

Although his grocery does not sell meat he imports it in sizable quantities for his family, for sale to the Malagan Resort and for his friends. So in essence he is selling is some of his private stock. We discussed the various cuts they have available and we emphasized our desire for high quality and I have high expectations that the meat will be good. We ordered 10lbs (or 10 1/2Kg packages) or Filet Mignon (what they call in Australia Eye Fillet – and they say Fill-Et not Fil-ay as we do), 10lbs of boneless chicken breast, 10lbs of port chops and 10lbs of ground beef (they call it mince as in Australia). That should be more then enough to see us till we reach Australia in July. In fact, we may have to go on a binge to eat it all as Australian Quarantine will confiscate any remaining meat when we arrive. But better too much then too little!

We are also waiting for a radiator hose for our generator. We seem to have melted our exhaust hose (which goes from the exhaust pipe to the muffler) when we had a plastic bag stuck in the intake in Pohnpei. The other rubber shell of the hose is just peeling off. Fortunately the hose we have now is a two layer, wire reinforced hose so we are still running the generator and relying on the inner hose to keep the exhaust/water in check. But we have noticed an exhaust leak lately. No such hose is available her in PNG and no substitute can be found here in Kavieng, but Peter, who runs a local hardware store (called “Zen 48”) has ordered some for us which is coming from Port Moresby, the capital and should be here by the end of the week.