July 3, 2014 – July 6, 2014
17 13.222 S 178 58.042 E
Posting by Barb and Dennis:
By eight in the morning we were in the dinghy heading to shore. We were greeted by a local as soon as we had our feet on solid ground. He immediately asked us whether we were ready to do Sevu Sevu. We were taken to the Chief’s house where we waited outside for 10 minutes. We got the sense that we were waking them up! A mat was placed outside and we were instructed to leave our shoes, clean our feet and proceed to the inside of the house. Sitting there was the Chief’s sister representing the chief who was not there, and three other male locals. We were shown where to sit and how to present the Kava. The local man, Eroni, took our Kava and started a quiet chant with the occasional clapping in between. After about 5 minutes of chanting he extended his hand and told us we were now welcome to his village and welcome to sail in the Bay of Islands. There was no Kava drinking and the whole ceremony was a little disappointing as we were expecting much more! We were then handed a sheet of paper which had a written request asking cruisers to give a donation and it explained what the money would be used for. The expectation was that we give $30 Fijian per person. We were aware that this may happen but we had previously agreed that we would take our time and experience the village hospitality before giving a donation so we told them that we had not brought money with us and would think about the donation. We were then invited by Sam (Director of Tourism for the village) to go with him and his boat (for a small fee) and the family on Sea Whisper to a reef that was home to some large clams. At the reef there were some large clams and the snorkel was refreshing but the coral and quantity of colorful fish was not like what we experienced in the Tuamotos!They were reintroducing the clams to the reef. Sam told us that they were only a couple of inches long two years ago when they were introduced and now they were about sixteen inches across and would get over three feet. (Hey Nyon, Rick and Kyra, Sea Whisper, Lyonel and Barb, said hello and we wished you guys were here!!).
We ended up anchored by Daliconi for two more nights enjoying the hospitality of our adopted family Eroni and Biu along with their 2 grandchildren, Melony and Jadon. While there, Dennis helped the locals fix the outboard motor of their boat which they used for fishing and for visiting the nearby villages. The motor needed new spark plugs (which we provided) and the carburetor needed to be cleaned. The outboard motor had been given to them by a visiting Super yacht. It didn’t appear like anybody in the village knew how to maintain outboard motors. They were very grateful for Denny’s help. They gave us huge bananas and a papaya as a thank you gift.
We spent an evening watching all of the local kids playing a game of Pandi. The game is made of two teams, one team has a tennis ball and their goal is to throw the ball at the other team’s players and get them out of the game by hitting them with the ball. The goal of the other team is to try and keep the ball as far away of the location where they are to construct a pyramid out of 10 cans while avoiding being hit by the ball. It seems like an impossible game to win but it is a game played by children of all ages. The little ones just run around squealing with joy but the big kids pretty well leave them alone pretending every now and then to throw the ball at them. I loved the simplicity of their lifestyle and to watch the entire village conjugating by the beach all participating in the simple game and socializing as there really isn’t much else to do there. No TV, internet and electronic games keeping them at home!!
We made a trip to the big town. It was a mile walk to a little town called Malaka and from there it was a 15 minute bumpy, dusty drive in the back of a two ton truck. It was a nice little town and we re-supplied our galley with eggs and bread. Some of the young kids spent a lot of time studying us from afar with some apprehension so we got the sense that there were not too many visitors to this part of the island. We didn’t have to walk back from Malaka as Sam had also gone to town for fuel and he gave us a ride back to Daliconi in his boat with the newly fixed outboard motor.
On Sunday we went to church upon Eroni’s and Biu’s insistence. We didn’t have the appropriate attire so Biu lent me one of her dresses and Eroni lent Dennis a Sulu. As you can see by the picture, we could almost blend in with the locals. Dennis was especially handsome in his Sulu. During the church service Eroni gave a little speech welcoming us to the church and the village and then invited us to stand up and a say few words which Dennis did! The choir singing in church was beautiful with some amazing harmony all done without any instruments. I actually got goose bumps and could hardly hold back the tears. After the service we were invited to participate in the usual Sunday feast that was cooked by a different family every Sunday. It included a variety of local grown vegetables and smoked fish cooked in a variety of ways. My favourite was smoked fish steamed in cocnut milk along with some spinach. All the fish caught is smoked as nobody has refrigeration. We had to sit on the floor where the food was all laid out (Dennis still has to learn how to sit with his Sulu cross-legged so that his underwear is not visible to all sitting across from him). The guy sitting next to Dennis sure enjoyed it as he had food all over his face and hands as he slurped and ravaged plateful after another plateful of food. It was all very good!
Before we left Daliconi we had Biu, her two grandchildren Melony, Jadon and Melony’s friend come aboard for a visit. They enjoyed the coke, tea and cookies! When they were getting back in the dinghy to go back to shore, Melony fell in as she tried to get into the dinghy. She grabbed the side of the boat and was not going to let go for dear life as she did not know how to swim. Dennis had to jump into the dinghy and pry her fingers loose so that he could pull her into the dinghy without her help as she was paralyzed by fear. It was all pretty funny once she was safely back in the boat. Dennis let Jadon drive the dinghy which he did proudly, especially when they got closer to shore and all his friends could see him.
Dennis and I loved our time in Daliconi and loved the people there. We had a little trouble getting over the feeling that the kindness shown by the people may have been motivated by the desire to receive gifts from cruisers. But for every gift they received they returned with their own gift, which really means a lot since they have so little. One special gift is Dennis’s Sulu which Eroni gave so that every time Dennis wore it he would remember where it came from!!