July 28

Here I am all alone on the boat in Port Villa for 12 days. I miss those guys a lot. I have a glimpse of what I am going to be like when I am old ...I walk around talking to myself. Carol and Craig on Valere are very sweet and invite me to dinner every other day. We go into town to get ice cream together and so that Moorea, their little girl, can practice walking. She is 14 months old but since she is a boat baby she is walking a bit late. This week she took her first completely solo steps (4 in a row) and her parents are delighted.

I am trying to do something useful every day. Yesterday I put up the cockpit awning and did laundry. Of course it rained the moment the laundry finished! Today I did some grocery shopping and laundry again. Since it has been so rainy the last couple of weeks I had a large pile of smelly towels. Tomorrow I think I am going on dive with Craig in the morning. I checked out the dive operation here but they want $80 US for a two tank dive which I think is a rip-off. So Craig and I will dive the out side lip of Port Villa harbor from our dingy. Then I plan to start on stainless polishing! I have a small to do list that contains a lot of "spring cleaning" type stuff like empty kitchen cabinets wash and wash shelves. We'll see. I have a feeling two days before the guys come back - I will have a major flurry of activity.

Jordan called today and it was great to hear his voice. Jonah got on the phone and told me how "wicked" the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was and how he wished I had been there to see it. What a sweetie. I think he is having fun finally. Jordan took him to the dentist in the US to be checked out. Turns out he doesn't need a spacer but the doctor found 4 huge cavities and one of them was rotten to the root. YIKES. Much screaming and misery later - all is ok. Apparently the dentist in Australia and here missed seeing these other rotten teeth which the dentist claims must have been there for several months. The dentist in Australia found two cavities and filled them - one of them badly as that is the one that had to be pulled. The dentist said fluoride pills weren't enough and freaked when he heard that the toothpaste we were using didn't have fluoride. We need to use fluoride pills, fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride rinse as our drinking water doesn't have fluoride in it. NO more candy and soda. None at all. All of this could have been prevented (including the teeth pulling here in Port Villa - see my earlier journal) if the dentist in Australia had done a proper job. I think I just happened to get a real loser because the level of care in Australia is usually good. Anyhow I feel completely horrible and guilty that my little boy had to endure so much pain.

Today Craig, Carol and I went to the Cultural Center/Museum and it was surprisingly good. I got to look at everything unusual for as I am usually with Jonah and his museum style is a bit manic. Very interesting artifacts but the best were old photographs which show the Ni-Vanuatu and their villages before any modernization. Actually most villages are still fairly traditional and since Independence, traditional life has been valued and more people are living in traditional ways. BUT there are still Missionaries here - I cant believe it. You would think after 200 years of destroying native culture and ways they would got a clue.

In Port Villa, the capital, and it is called a city but is smaller than a town in the US. 60% of the countries population lives in and around the city. It is very touristy and a cruise ship comes in every fortnight to unload pale and fat Australians. There actually is an group who wants to stop the push to build the tourist industry but it is complicated by the fact that Vanuatu receives millions in aid from Australia and I think they are required to show some economic initiative. Of course, there is particularly no infrastructure, no transportation between the islands for food and medicine, no real public school system as we know it and very few medical facilities. The government provides teachers for schools in the larger villages but the villages pay for buildings and supplies. There are religious school funded by the whatever group and these tend to be highly regarded as they have the cash provided by 1st world country churches. The hospital in Villa sends anything complex to Australia (if you can afford it) which means basically white people fly out for most medical procedures. I am not sure what the life expectancy is but its not bad - all that healthy living and no stress whatsoever. Women have children fairly early and midwifery is pretty established although one village we went to said they try to send first time mothers to a local clinic staffed by a nurse. A doctor who helped out in a village said she saw some breast cancer and there was nothing much to be done since it would have required expensive transportation to Villa. So anything really bad happens medically, people just die. We are very lucky in the US and in other first world nations.