On friday morning after breakfast of cereal and coffee, I hauled the rolled up dinghy out through the front hatch and pumped it up, put it over the side and attached the outboard motor but it wouldnt start. So cleaned the spark plug and sprayed everything with CRC and away it went. Amazing stuff that CRC! During all this, I was visited by Stanley and later by Noel in their outrigger canoes. Noel asked if I had some spare rope and I gave him what I had, it wasnt much but he was very pleased with it, and immediately attached one end to his net and the other to a lump of coral for an anchor. Later he returned and gave me three small fish, the ones the nets catch, and later, ashore I gutted them and will fry them up for breakfast Saturday. Stanley seems to be the go-to guy for yachties, and advised me to keep an eye out for a white vehicle appearing on the opposite side of the bay - that would be Customs. Stanley was also organising a tour to the Volcano for later in the afternoon.
Customs and immigration arrived , and brought with them a very useful woman from the Bank who could change money. I ferried the customs guy out to the boat, and back to the "Yacht Ckub" where the immigration guy stamped my passport, my money was converted to vatu, I paid my dues, and still had plenty for the volcano trip. The Yacht Club is a rather lovely open sided old shed with a tiny locked up Bar, and old battered soft chairs and a settee and rickety tables decorated with a few flowers. The Guest book hanging on a nail by string is rusted shut!
I went for a short walk to find Stanley. The dirt was road was deeply rutted and I followed it a short distance to a group of houses, more like thatched huts with battered tin and timber sides. Chooks and a few dogs and pig wandered about along with numerous children and I found Stanley chatting to a group of people which included his in=laws, his wife and a baby. My main interest was to get a place on the Volcano tour - no problem! I was concerned because the Catamarans had kept coming till there were 11 and three monohulls. Most of these boats flew the Island Cruising Association flag, and had been sailing en-masse since leaving the Bay of Islands in May. They had cleared in at an island to the south of Tanna, Aneityum - or so they thought! SOmehow or other the I(mmi8gration guy worked out they had not cleared in properly, though all of them were certain they had, on the information they had received through the ICA. SO, later as they came ashore to get ready for the Volcano tour, they were told they must get immigration clearance and pay their fees first. Then followed some minor arguments and finally everyone raced back to their Cats to find their papers and passports, and rustle up what money they could find, and rushed back in to get clearance in time for the Volcano tour. Everyone blamed me for dragging the Customs guy over, but in the end they were happy because he was very efficient, had them all sorted in no time, Eva changed their money, they didn't miss the Volcano tour and they now no longer needed to go direct to Port Vila as they had been told to previously to do these now completed formalities.
I should also mention David. He also came alongside in his Canoe and chatted as I sat in the dinghy. The cyclone had wrecked his restaurant and he was trying to rebuild it. Like everyone he recalled the fear they all felt, and the noise that he said was like a jet engine as most of the village was torn apart. Even his pots and pans had disappeared. Remembering there were some old pots and things on the boat I never used I offered them to him. He sounded interested but I havent had time yet to get them to him. Later, at the beach where we all land, he saw me and later returned to the dinghy with a MASSIVE bag full of fresh vegetables including carrots and a coconut. I was almost overcome with emotion because of the generosity of this man, and all these people who have so little and for whom life has been such a struggle this year.
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