September 15

We are in a bay on Maewo in Vanuatu. There several small "villages" scattered around but they are more like extended family compounds. In fact they run into each other and to my eye it looks like one very small village. We met some Americans on the yacht "Noason" and they have been coming here for a couple of years. It is handy as they helped with information about what was proper and how to deal with the chief, etc.

The bay is wonderful and has a lovely waterfall which we have a delightful view of from our cockpit. The fresh water runs into the bay unfortunately killing the coral on that side of the bay but we don't care as it is too rainy to snorkel or swim.

Last night we attended a feast given by Chief Jackson and enjoyed local fare with the local drink Kava. Kava is a plant whose roots they grind to produce a sharp strong drink which is very slightly inebriating. There are 4 other boats here and 3 of them attended the feast also. This for a small fee and functions as the gift to the village for staying there. I have donated kids books for the school and will give some kids clothes to the nurse at the dispensary. I am not sure at how good the nurse is but it is impressive that they have a facility. The chief also arranged some Kustom Dancing. Kustom really means Traditional/our way. There exists very traditional villages in Vanuatu that still live in the old way - with grass skirts etc. But most of them have been converted by missionaries and it seems practical to be wearing modern clothes. Certainly this village seems to have really dealt with the harsh realities of modern life. Certainly they are dependent on basic supplies (rice, flour..) that come from Santo. Indeed life was extremely harsh when they could only depend on a infrequent freighter which might not turn up. The Yacht "Noason"has been functioning at a no cost freighter and bring basic supplies (for which they are repaid) for the village when they are in Vanuatu.

The people are dark skinned like the Fijians but they seem to have more of strong hint of the Aborigine. The Fijians look like they are Africans. The people all have lean hard bodies accustomed to a light low fat diet. Even the children seem to have a muscled sinewy look to them. The chiefs hut has two electric bulbs in it but otherwise it is a hut with an earth floor. At night they pull mats out to sleep.

They are rather shy and I have myself at a loss of words. I feel like a ridiculous wealthy white person who they regard in a patient deferential manner. Small societies are so subtle in their manners and in their customs.

Yesterday we walked to the school - a whopping 500 feet down a single lane footpath. There they have a volleyball court and the church. They had slaughtered a bull the day before and its huge head lay underneath a large tree. Jonah was thrilled. I smiled a lot and gave some balloons to the kids.

Today we are still waiting for the weather to improve. Jordan got bored and made Chinese dumplings. Yum. We might go to the waterfall again for fun.