Thursday, September 14, 2006

Port Sandwich, Malekula

Port Sandwich, Malekula (9/13 - 9/14)

We decided to stop in Port Sandwich mostly because we were ready to leave the Maskelyne's, but wanted to wait out the shifty weather before going into Banam Bay.  It ended up being a very pleasant stop thanks to two extremely generous locals, Ezekiel and his wife Serah.  Ezekiel was quite the character.  When we first arrived he was wearing a white (now mostly brown) button up shirt, that didn't quite fit - the buttons were all stretched, and his small belly protruded from the gaping wholes.  He had an enormous smile, and enthusiastically shook our hands, all the while talking non-stop.   He wanted to know our names, where we were from, where our kids where (what, you don't have any, well what are you waiting for), and on and on.  He invited us inside to wait for Serah, who had gone to the garden.  Inside he sat us all down, and then ran off, returning with a couple of huge photo album books.  While we looked through his photos, he went off to peel some pamplemouse for us.  His photo album confused us all (we were there with Island Sonata).  There were pictures of obvious family, and photos from other cruisers we knew, but there were also tons of photos of all these white people; riding horses, getting married, prom photos of teenagers, and so on.  One photo actually looked like it could've come from a magazine, then I looked closer, and sure enough it had indeed been cut out, we could see the magazine print.  Very strange and funny.  He served us the pompelmouse and continued to talk a mile a minute.  His English was heavily accented, and we could only understand one out of every ten words or so.  Many times he mentioned the "big man", to the point that we were all wondering who this apparently fat man lived and why Ezekiel was so taken with him.  It was until we had to pray prior to eating the pamplemouse that we realized that the "big man" was God!  We also learned that Serah had only become 'Serah' when she married Ezekiel, prior to that she had some non-Christian name, which Ezekiel stated with obvious horror!

Chris tends to get antsy sitting around and likes to explore, so he asked if we could look around. Ezekiel, said yes, of course, but we had to wait for Serah first.  So we just sat there, waiting.  Finally I guess Ezekiel got bored too, because he said, okay we could walk until we saw Serah ... apparently he likes to be in charge of things!  He gave us a tour of his land, which was beautiful.  He owns a pretty large stock of cattle, and processes coconuts.  The coconut trees were on a hill that sloped upward away from his house and church.  Near the bottom of the hill was a huge pile of still husked coconuts.  Just as I was wondering who collected all those, CRASH-BAM, a coconut fell from it's tree, landed to the ground, then bounced and rolled down the hill, landing in the pile of coconuts!  Ezekiel laughed and made a joke about what a good coconut collector he was!  On our way back, we spotted Sera returning from the garden, loaded full.  We accompanied them back to the house, and started to say goodbye, when they told us to wait.  Serah separated all of the fresh goods into two piles and then told us one pile was from each of us!  There was a huge amount of food there, bok choy, tomatoes, eggs, papaya, and bananas.  We tried to tell them it was too much, but they wouldn't hear of it, and so away we went, once again amazed at the giving and friendliness of the locals.

We took a dinghy ride a long ways up one of the rivers.  It was a bit eerie, with the muddy still water, funky mangrove trees, and overwhelming silence.  If ever there was a place for a spooky movie with crazed mean wild animals, this was it.  We returned to Billabong in the rain, with the wind increasing.  The wind had shifted and our anchor hadn't re-set so we had dragged just a bit, and had to re-anchor ... in the rain of course!

The next morning Chris and John returned to Ezekiel and Serah to say goodbye and bring them a few gifts as thanks for the gifts of the previous day.  Chris said it was funny, because they once again had to hold hands and pray, and since Ezekiel prays in Bislama, some of the wording just comes out a bit funny.  Apparently Ezekiel wanted to ask God for us to be safe on our boats which came out sounding a bit like, "Oh, Big Man, please no killem .... no makem big waves .... "!!!

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