Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stuck in Puluwat

The day before we had planned to leave Puluwat, a representative from the village came out and told us that they had closed the lagoon due to the death of a chief (I say a chief, as even the smallest island seems to have more than one and then possibly a mayor or two!). This meant that no one was allowed in or out of the lagoon for 4 days. Of course they told us this after the closure, which had been delayed by a day to allow a supply ship to unload and the people here from other islands, who were collecting supplies, to leave the next morning. Luckily, we really didn't mind spending another 4 days here and while I doubt there was much the locals could have done if decided we had to leave, it was nice to be able to respect their request for us to stay put. So here we are stuck in paradise! Now if only we had some fresh fruit and veges, ice cream and chocolate, it really would be paradise! And I don't mean aubergine or beans (plentiful in Vanuatu and the Solomons), not that we have any of these either, but real delicacies like broccoli!

We have spent a lot of time here in general gelling out but we have also done quite a few of the never ending jobs on a boat. In addition, we have gone for another 2 good walks on Alet island. The first was prompted by a desire for another look at the lighthouse to see if we could see some other islands from there (we could). We walked inland rather than along the beach this time, and discovered more artifacts hidden in the bush; (jungle? not sure of the exact terminology, bush sounds very NZ but jungle sounds very deepest Amazon) old vehicles, bottles, crockery and bunkers left from the second world war. We also found swamps, aggressive biting ants and mosquitos. In retrospect, maybe jandals weren't the best choice of footwear. On our third walk, we walked inland again and this time found the old road from what was a jetty to the lighthouse. Don't know how we missed it last time, but it led to a treasure trove of WWII relics: vehicles, at least 9 large guns (as in ones that shoot large shells rather than rifle-sized guns), armoured(!?) steam rollers, more bunkers and other assorted bits and pieces. We also came across areas where the villagers had felled trees and at least partially transformed the logs into canoes before hauling them out to the beach.

One day we decided to go for a snorkel on the outside of the reef. We anchored the dinghy in the shallows in the lagoon and swam over to the drop off. Despite trying to pick a calm patch, as soon as we got in the water, it always appeared to be breaking right where we wanted to go! We chickened out more than once, but also swam across in a couple of places. The coral in the lagoon appeared to be regenerating and was in quite good condition. We noticed this as it swept by what appeared to be mere centimetres from our noses as we swam through the breakers in the shallows and out to the ocean. The coral wasn't anything special outside, but we saw turtles, sharks and spotted eagle rays. We were glad to see a good number of turtles, as twice when Jim has been ashore, there has been a turtle roast going on.

There have been two boats call in while we have been here, the supply ship which was too big to enter the lagoon and a smaller (ca 50m) ex-fishing, now trading boat, with some officials from the department of education on board. We haven't seen another yacht since Pohnpei, over a month ago so it was odd to hear we had just missed another yacht which left Puluwat the morning before we arrived! While the trading boat was here, in true Murphy's law fashion, it dragged down on top of us just when we were in the middle of doing some tricky glueing and we both had our hands full of velcro with contact adhesive on it! Luckily, they put their engine on in time (the captain must have been alerted as none of the large group of spectators appeared too bothered by a 200m drag towards a yacht.) When the 'anchor' came up we saw it was only a t-shaped bit of steel!


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