As Quest's crew prepared to visit the local village of
Sawayake on Gau Island (pronounced "ngow") the local trading boat was
offloading fuel. Without a constant supply of fuel villages have no
electricity, no transportation (including both travel and fishing), and
no communication (either for pleasure or emergency). This island had only
one cruising boat visit last year and we were the only on so far this
year (it's now June).
Without the help of these folks we would NOT have known where to bring
our dinghy ashore.
As it was we could only bring our dinghy in so far and
had to walk the rest of the way through shoe grabbing mud! Uriah was
right there the led a hand to Lydia.
anyplace in Fiji necessitates a visit to the local chief and the
requisite gift of kava.
young man to the right of Nancy was also visiting from a neighboring
village and his visit also demanded a visit to the chief and his
permission to walk around, visit friends and be in the surrounding
waters. he cross-legged sitting is part of the ritual.
was our guide four our time in Gau Island. He showed us around the
you see Nancy & Lydia in their "village attire." Believe me, in the
tropical heat it is a VERY BIG deal for us. The villagers don't realize
how VERY HOT their winter climate is to us.
Churches in the islands are always the pride and joy of the villagers -
and rightly so!
pastor's house is high on the hill. His wife checks out the additional
rinse her laundry is receiving!
run out of the rain in time for a kava ceremony.
And by the time it abates we run into the pastor who
insists that we visit him!
raising of children is definitely a village affair. We see children in
many homes that are not necessarily their biological parents. Because
this is so common in the islands no one seems to pay any attention.
Their parents are in Suva earning a living.
Later, we're taken to a village museum. Artifacts there
come from the time of cannibals. Local people constantly express
appreciation for Christian values that have dispensed with eating
"long pig" and killing of neighboring villagers and other outsiders
(such as one of the crew from The Bounty's survivors). These implements
are NOT replicas. They are the real thing. There are stories of eating
"long pig" as recently as post WWII!
was still raining as we were ready to leave. We were also getting hungry
and a trip to MacDonalds was out of the question. We were invited for
tea and taro at this lady's place. She lived near the road in the middle
of a huge mud puddle. We were a little afraid (of disease), but boiling
hot tea and boiled taro seemed like a good choice and we were very
had already overstayed our welcome, but the tide was still out. We were
hoping to move the dinghy over to that little channel and then float her
out to clear water.
again! The channel wasn't deep enough and more water just made it harder
to walk on this uneven muddy ground. We did have a lot of help, but it
was still a heavy difficult job. We had been warned about the tide
problem, but I don't know what we could have done differently - our
choices were to leave sooner or much later.
After we visited the village people came out to
the Quest as we had some gifts for them from our Bible Mission!
last day on Gau Uriah and Sonu put together a small feast and very
special day on the beach for us. You can se it all being prepared using
just what is at hand on the island (including "wild" chicken).
the finished earth oven (left).
Coconuts were all around us and everyone enjoyed the refreshing flavor.
the meal was finally ready to eat we all sat around our natural table of
palm fronds. As an aside, this whole day was surprisingly bug free. We
had loaded ourselves with DEET before leaving the boat, but we didn't
experience any problem with the bugs. Usually the odors of cooking well
bring them out.
The cleanup crew waited in the background. (right)
It's hard to explain how special this day was. What I haven't shown you
here is how Uriah made all the baskets and how the children decided to
show us a little dance and how they collected over 100 shells for Nancy
- counting each one! Nor have I included the shots of the children
eating cookies in the cockpit of the Quest.