Meeting Our Host Family

Wayward Adventure
Mon 10 Aug 2009 09:34
     We are here on our 3rd day in Palmerston and we have been so busy that this is the first free time I have had to write about our stay. To backtrack, we arrived on Friday the 7th of August and were greeted by a local guide boat who helped with anchoring and told us to wait onboard until the immigration officials could come out to the boat. We were soon greeted by the head of our host family,Tere, who drove us in his boat through the pass and into the lagoon. The rumored "fighting between families for possession of cruisers" we had heard about through the sailing grapevine proved to be untrue (further proof that you should never take a rumor as fact!) and we were warmly welcomed by everyone on the island. Tere took us to meet his daughter, Shekinah, and his wife, Yvonne, who had prepared a wonderful lunch for us and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with our new friends as we toured the island.
      The next morning Tere came out with his fried Edward to check on the boat as the wind had shifted and to also invite us to spend the day with them and their families on one of the nearby motus (in this case, a small uninhabited island along the reef), for a picnic lunch and snorkeling. The half hour boat ride out to the motu was peaceful in the flat turquoise waters of the lagoon and the little island turned out to be picture perfect with white sand beaches, coconut palms, and gentle waves lapping at the shore. It was so fun to be able to interact with the families in a common language, especially after being so unfamiliar with French in the previous islands, and relax on the beach as the food was prepared. We especially enjoyed watching as some of the men who had set out to hunt for coconut crab returned with their catch while meanwhile the kids were helping their dad clean the fish which they had just caught. While this was going on the women had been preparing the underground oven , called an "emu", so that the rocks which had been placed in the fire were smoldering and ready for the food to be laid out. The fish were placed on a piece of wire mesh resting on freshly cut pieces of wood ontop the rocks, under which dried coconut husks served as the fuel for the fire and over all of this, leaves from nearby bushes were stacked to act as a lid and keep the heat in the oven. The process sounds intimidating but was done so effortlessly by the 3 women that we hardly had time to process it all before the fish were done and lunch was served! The meal was delicious and as if the cooking on the island wasn't enough, Yvonne had brought along one of her famous chocolate cakes complete with chocolate frosting for dessert!....Needless to say, anyone with a modern kitchen and accompanying appliances no longer had any right to complain about "how much work it is" to prepare a meal...sorry ladies ;- )
Lunch was followed by a cooling dip in the water before we began to clean up and pack for the trip back to the boat so that we would not get stuck out in the lagoon after sunset. This already perfect day ended with the sighting of 2 humpback whales outside of the reef as we slowly motored back towards the main island. Yes, it was as unbelievable as it sounds and it is a day I am sure will remain in our memories forever. 
      I have much more to write about what we did today, but it will have to wait for another day as I am so tired and ready for bed....more to come soon I promise!   ~LH