Monday 10 April 2017

FLUENTA - Ailuk and Maloelap - Six weeks of feasting and kiting (Part 3 of 4 )

[this part of a four part blog post]

Sundays in the village meant church attendance. We attended a few times, and found the Head Teacher in his alternate role as Lay Preacher leading the service. We were grateful that even Church seemed to operate on "Marshallese Time" in that the published time was just a guide, as we misjudged the spring low tide the first time, and it took much longer than usual to get ashore (to give credit where it was due, Max had been reminding us all morning about the spring low tide, but I didn't think it could possibly take *that* much longer...). Bruder even printed Orders of Service especially because of us, which included translations of all the Marshallese entries. Some of the songs were hauntingly familiar, as the melody was a traditional hymn (e.g. "Take Time to be Holy"), while the words and harmonies were distinctly Marshallese.

Our weeks in the same atoll offered more than the usual amount of family time, especially since there were minimal periods with other cruisers. Victoria had purchased fabric and a pattern to make a rash guard/reef suit when we were home in Canada, and mid-way through our time in Ailuk, I realized that we had better get out the sewing machine! She and I spent a lovely few days (when the wind was low and Max & Johnathan were spearfishing) cutting, piecing, and sewing. She was so excited to be taught the ingenious technique of making tailor's tacks that she insisted on showing Max when he got home! Using Great-Grammy's skills and Grammy's Christmas 1976 sewing machine, it felt like we were close in spirit, even though we were far from home.

Johnathan was excited to notice one morning that our French Polynesian friends Yves and Tamanui on Aorai had arrived in the anchorage, part of the fleet of three boats which arrived on the same day. We hadn't seen them since January in Majuro, and we had wondered if they would ever make it through the headwinds as far north as Ailuk in their catamaran, so we were all happy to socialize for a couple of weeks before they headed south again. Benjamin adored Tamanui, and would ask every morning when he was coming over to play. Yves is both an avid spearfisherman and kiter, so we had lots of interesting conversations both in our cockpit and seated on the wide raft-like deck of his 39' Warram catamaran. Max and Yves joined Falcon from Runaway to go spearfishing near our boats when we moved to a new anchorage midway between the villages. (Spearfishing has generally meant a long dinghy trip from the anchorage to the pass, but in this lagoon, there were plenty of fish on all the small reefs that dotted the area). [Max Note: It was a successful trip mostly due to Yves's shooting and we only left once when a grey shark started to get to excited.] Yves was kind enough to host all three boats for a fish barbeque [with his wood fired BBQ] that evening. Having invited him to Fluenta the evening before, I was directed not to cook, but I stretched that order a bit and made banana cake, given the number of blackening bananas hanging on our aft deck :) From Yves, we learned the magic trick of cooking green bananas like potatoes - he made a delicious salad with green bananas and garlicky French vinagrette, and also introduced us to fried bananas (like French Fries) that we enjoyed with salt and ketchup. Aboard Fluenta, we also tried mashing them to great success when we traded for a new supply, and found that we could actually eat an entire stalk before they spoiled by eating some of them green and some of them ripe.

[Max Note: The kids and I also went spearfishing a few times on the close by reefs. Most trips we came back with two to three fish that would provide for a lunch and dinner. Johnathan managed to shoot a snapper and a trevally using my speargun that is almost as tall as he is. Victoria came out as well, once her ear infection had healed.]

We began our visit to Ailuk in the main village, and we ended it there too. Emily is the only lady who knows how to make square (rather than round) woven baskets, so I had asked her to make me two for recipe cards when we were initially there. She also organized some of the local ladies to make items for us in exchange for our rice (hooray!), toothpaste, and laundry soap. The pickings were otherwise quite slim after our several weeks in Enejelar... We felt a bit funny bringing all our supplies ashore on the day the big container ship showed up, but even the Marine Officer (aka Police Officer, community worker, and goods deliverer) bought two bags of rice, and seemed to appreciate our fair pricing [i.e. we charged the same price as what we paid for it in Majuro].

Emily and Anious invited us to their home for a shared meal on our last evening in Ailuk, and it was a lovely way to finish a beautiful visit to their Atoll. We made Mom's sweet & sour meatballs, Dad's brown bread, and Marilyn's chocolate cake, so it seemed that my Canadian family was well represented by our contribution to the potluck :) Emily rounded this out with rice, fish, and chicken. As the pastor's wife, Emily leads the children in the 'Good News' club, and after dinner she had them come to sing us a song ("My God Loves Me" to the tune of "Plaisir d'Amour"). Anious and Emily each took a turn to sing us a song; Emily's song was one that she had learned as a high school graduate, and it talked about her hope of us meeting again, if not in this life, then in the next. Even one of the Deacons stepped up to give us a speech, with Anious translating with great hilarity for us as he went. We had come to these islands to find friendship and memories, and we had an evening that we will always treasure.

[the final part of the blog post to follow]
At 2017-04-09 7:53 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 07°06.44'N 171°22.09'E

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