Wednesday, July 25, 2007


July 7, 2007
coordinates 16.32.048S,167.46.181E

From Epi we head on towards the island of Malekula. Specifically we anchored in a small bay of the southern tip of Malekula at Awai island. We had read a story about magic rocks here that can be found by a particular tree, and if struck together at night in the dark, they create blue sparks, which in turn leads to sparks in the sky (lightning) and stormy weather. On our second day there we went in search of them and Matthew was the first to spot them. Gigantic quartz stones folded in the rocky
cliffs and mountain face. Many were just laying about on the ground. We collected our loot and were apparently bold enough to tempt fate that night, we struck them together in the dark. Low and behold, they do make sparks! Luckily for us though the winds and weather didn't turn on us, but I'd be lying if I said we didn't keep an extra ear out that night for the signs of change.

Our first encounter on the island though was a barrage of outriggers. We had grown accustom to the routine. As soon as you drop anchor they all row out to you in hopes of trading fresh fruits and veggies for clothing, smokes or whatever you may have to trade. And is custom in many of these islands, they grow their gardens on one island and row back across to live on another. So at sunset while we drop anchor they just happen to be finishing up their day tending their gardens. We weren't in need
of much so we exchanged smiles and photo ops of these creative outriggers outfitted with sails and carrying entire families. Then came our first true experience of someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes. In comes David. A local who kindly offered his goods. He had bananas, let me tell you, the only thing we never need. We politely declined, unless he had some yams or grapefruit to come back and trade later. He said he would be back at 5:30. He returned but brought only small reef fish,
dozens of them. The ones that you might find in a really nice fish tank in the doctors waiting room. Not wanting to be impolite we accepted 3 of them. He then tried to explain to us that his father was the chief of the island and it would cost us 1000 vatu's to anchor there for the night. He explained that is was not just us, but every yacht that stops here. We were instantly curious about this because we haven't heard of this anywhere before, we had already met a dozen of these locals including
David and no one made mention of it earlier. Why wait until dark and our 3rd meeting to give us this news. He said his father was the island chief and sent him to collect it. Slightly suspicious but wanting to do what it right we informed him that if this was true, we would meet with the chief personally in the morning and give him the money directly. He pitifully hung his head and said, "You don't trust me." Ahhhhh Admittedly, I (Lisa) am the biggest chump/sap/any other name you'd like to apply
there, and he was playing me like a fiddle. The Kelly's at this time were anchored a stones throw from us, so I sent him over there first to let them know of the news. Thank goodness for technology. We quickly hailed them on the radio to let them know he was coming and of his agenda. To make a long story a wee bit shorter, he gave them a slightly different story with a more demanding tone. He didn't know that you don't take those tones with Kelly girl. He even came back one more time in the
dark and brought the supposed "chief" with him. We said we would pay tomorrow in the light and that was the last we saw of them. They apparently didn't even live on this island.

Bruce and Kelly boy did make a trip to shore though to meet the real "chief" Marse. A delightful older gentleman who kept an immaculate village. He was happy to offer some fresh veggies for no trade and there was no fee for anchoring in the bay. We were free to stay as long as we liked. He even gave Bruce a beautiful nautilus shell. We couldn't accept it for free so Bruce gladly gave him the 1000 vatu's we had been holding onto for just such an occasion. In the morning as we were departing
the anchorage he rowed like a mad man to catch up to us and offered a large woven basket full of fruits and veggies. The kindness of strangers and the good in people will always prevail.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

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