February 9

We packed the boat and lashed the dingy on deck to get already for the passage and (of course) it started to pour like crazy. I don't mind if it rains in the middle of a passage but we really hate to set off in the pouring rain. SO we are waiting another day. It should be a mellow stay on the boat kind of day. We are doing school because its rainy. I was planning to take a week break since he is so far ahead but I think we will postpone vacation a day.

Yesterday we went in to say "Goodbye" to the folks in the village. I brought them a bunch of old National Geographics magazines which they adored and old toys for the kids. My friend, Raiko, inquired about buying gas and meat from us but I declined. We hardly have any gas left and getting and packaging frozen meat is rather laborious and costly. But in typical islander manner they ask for the moon and then they are fairly happy with whatever they get. Raiko made me a lovely necklace and bracelet set as a gift for which I am very thankful. In the pictures for February the photos of Airik (at Maloelap Atoll) and the village of the same name will look lovely and quaint but it is burdened by familiar rural village problems. No doctor or nurse (anywhere on the atoll let alone this little islet), free ranging farm animals (pigs and chickens) and the accompanying defecation which produces constant worm and infection issues on feet and legs. Most children have scars all over their legs from those types of infection. Water is in short supply so hand washing is not frequent and they probably suffer from internal worms as well. I think the latrine system is a pit system but it is not rigorously followed. Most of the children are fairly healthy though and the infants seem well cared for and clean. I think the issues for the children begin when they start walking. Obviously everyone just sits on the ground, on mats if available and there is no furniture in the houses except for mats and the occasional TV and VCR.

They eat fish, breadfruit and coconut which are fairly healthy except they have a deadly weakness for sugar and the rotten teeth of small children is testament to this. I do not think many of them follow a rigorous tooth care program.

The problem for them is the access to material items to improve their lives and a reliable source of income to procure them. More then half the entire population of the Marshall's live in Majuro due to this problem. In Airik, people are always talking about family, children and friends who are living in Majuro. They make mats to send to family as there are not enough Pandanus (the plant leaves used for weaving) trees in Majuro. I met a group of ladies who were working on a 7 foot by 7 foot mat on commission from a Marshallese in Majuro.

The last dive we did was on Friday and I had a miserable time. The current was ripping and the visibility sucked. The wind was blowing hard and the ride back to the boat was rough. Oh well. Jordan decided to replace the zinc anodes on Saturday but it ended up taking him two days as he spent the first day cleaning the prop and then had to find a new screw as one had been lost and finished on Sunday. "Dancer" did a dive on Sunday and said it was awesome. Go figure.

I bought a couple of open woven bowls here and they were nice. I paid for some and traded for the others. Most of the women wanted money claiming it was for "school supplies". I don't know if that was bull or not. They are not particularly rigorously honest not in a malicious way but out of not wanting to disappoint us. Last week we bought lobsters from some guys in a boat. They then went to the next boat offering bananas and that boat asked for lobsters and the local guys told them they sold the only two to us which was false as we had purchased six. These guys went on to the next boat selling bananas but this boat wanted lobster too! The guys told them they were unable to catch any lobsters at all! This boat was a bit distressed as they had given the fellows batteries for flashlights the day before for the express purpose of catching lobsters. OH well.