A Grey Day in Paradise

Tue 28 Aug 2018 20:21

A Grey Day in Paradise

Yes, it’s not all blue skies and as it was the day after my birthday we decided a quiet day on board was called for. But we were not idle. The next event on our social calendar was the school bring and buy sale so we whiled away some happy hours rummaging around on Zoonie for items that were no longer of use to us but might raise a few dollars for the school.

I wondered what the villagers would bring as they have little in their homes which is surplus to requirement apart from what they make and cook. My list included T-shirts, a sundress (would look much better on a young girl than me in my advancing years), sun tops, (ditto the sundress), a fly swat,(they don’t kill flies here unlike us cruisers, they just brush them away), travel games, a pack of RNLI playing cards and a book on patience games and some Spiderman Wrapping paper with tags! Back on Rambi Island remember the boy dressed up as Spiderman at the school celebration we went to, well as the superhero is known in these parts I thought a young boy might like that.

Seeing the sign in the beach shed that asked for glass bottles and jars with lids and plastic punnets we then filled 15 empty wine bottles with water and put a note on one to say they contained drinking water (it hadn’t rained for months).

The next day we struggled to the village with our load and deposited the bottles on Mere’s floor labels facing forward just to be provocative, there were also whisky and rum bottles amongst them. Bill’s eyes nearly popped out of his head, “Is that wine?” He asked with the acute awareness of someone whose glass has long since been wrestled from his hand.

“No Bill, it’s sea water” he wasn’t sure what to believe, “Mere needs wine” was his conclusion.

Martina had cut her banana cake in half before wrapping it in film for the sale. Ladies and children were already seated on the tarpaulins laid on the ground in the shade of some trees infront of the temporarily empty village chief’s house.

The sole village dog, Max (should be Maxine) is a pretty golden lurcher type mutt, in good condition. She loosely owns Joseph whom we first came across as kava meister at one of our growing number of sessions. A young good-looking lad with big eyes and a ready smile. Max knew she should not go onto the tarpaulin, but thereon lay the most wonderful smelling snacks and so she had this risk/reward dilemma. Engrossed in our chat Martina and I winced as poor Max yelped as she flew through the air having been grabbed by one leg by a boy who I deemed needed to be watched if he was prepared to be so rough with a gentle dog. “I don’t care what she had done,” Martina appealed, “She did not deserve that!”

In answer to my previous question about what villagers brought it was mostly cakes like Mere’s custard topped sponge squares, pancakes stuffed with savoury food and curios cubes of pale brown transparent sweetened starch, very popular with the locals. There were a few pretty small pandanus shoulder bags and purses.

Ma was sitting nearly opposite Martina and me with her daughter next to her and her young son buzzing around as little boys do. Her pretty daughter took a fancy to the tops and sundress and Ma let her buy them. I was glad, she would look lovely in them and the little boy grabbed the Spiderman paper. I could see his mind picturing it hanging on the tin wall beside his bed, I bet it is there right now, swinging in the breeze that passes through their home.

As for Martina’s banana cake, well on Peter’s recommendation half of it was now securely trapped in our basket. Max had been given the odd titbit as the sale progressed and when the event was winding down she had managed to sneak onto the tarpaulin, ostensibly asleep but with one eye half open with a view to the main chance, ready and willing to clear up the crumbs.

As we wandered back through the village Joe introduced himself first and then invited us to meet a couple at work on the floor of their home. The husband was sewing floats around the edge of a new fishing net while his wife was completing a small mat with a fringe of thin pandanus leaves. “She wanted to give it to the Bring and Buy sale but couldn’t finish it in time.”

Mere told us later that she had sold it to another cruiser and no doubt gave some if not all the money to the school.

Back on Zoonie I made a plateful of vegan burghers ready for the Sand Spit beach party the next day then Peter and Martina came by and collected us complete with snorkel gear to see where we could explore near the entrance passage. Mark and Teri came along too.

I made a mental note that the tide was still pouring out at this time and the disturbed water Zoonie had to motor through was mounting up in white wavecrests in the distance so we settled on a benign coral head tucked just inside the reef where the current was barely noticeable and the corals were a colourful taste of what was to come, plus we saw one shark.

Four very sleepy people enjoyed drinks on Zoonie that evening.

A Picnic on the Sand spit Beach

Mere, Jone, Bula and Joseph, (Max’s pet human) joined us on Zoonie. I showed them around below and came to the fridge, “So we need one Mere because our food is not growing just outside our homes!” She nodded sagely. We motored around to the Sand spit and anchored just off amongst the other yachts between Wavelength and Havachat.

Tui was up a palm tree securing one of the lines for the tarpaulin shades, Bill was helping so I joined in before playing catch ball with some of the village children. This was a great day out for them as they were on holiday and the cruisers had brought ashore paddle boards, kayaks and balls for them to play with. As soon as there are a group of cruisers together the village organises these picnics.

They are not only for fun though. There is work to be done. Tables to be made and plates woven from fresh, bright green leaves.

So while Rob, Peter and Teri played frisby with some of the village youngsters Martina and I sat for a long time with Bill teaching Martina and Tui showing me how to make the table tops and then our own plates. Tui was so patient, keeping up the banter with Bill while carefully watching my clumsy progress. The clever thing about these lengths we made for the long buffet table was that we wove together the fronds from the opposite sides of the coconut palm leaf stem until a tube was completed and tied off. Then Tui took his machete and cut right down the stem thus opening up the tube to form a strong flattish surface.

It was lovely to see the fusion of cruisers and villagers laughing and chatting together, children all playing together and then the lovely array of village dishes and cruisers contributions to make this a wonderful party sans frontiers.

The bon viveur atmosphere just went on rising and some of us went off for a stroll around the beach to the other side and had a riotous photoshoot with our friends from the village, as you will see from the photos.

We found a natural swimming pool beyond the beach which had a wonderful colour of deep blue and made a mental note for another occasion.

Zoonie took our happy crew back to the anchorage after we cleared up the camp then Rob dropped our friends back on to the beach, well some of them. “There’s a party on Havachat” he said so we motored over in the tender and joined in. Most of the village ladies were on coffee but some of the lads nursed ‘stumpies’ of beer. The less inhibited of us danced around their spacious stern deck and then formed a snake, Bill at one and me at the other taking turns to lead this human anaconda between the rib suspended in its davits and the steps and back into the deck saloon to the beat of the music.

Once everyone was gone, laughing their way back up the path to the village in the dark, we wound down over a quiet drink with Peter and Martina, reminiscing over our good fortune.