Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bobbing gently at anchor at Makogai Island in the middle of the night, I can't sleep. It has been a pattern the last couple of days, we are moving almost every day and I know it is a combination of worry and going to bed early that finds me tossing and turning about 0300. As a consequence of my lack of sleep I am crabby and find the stress of finding our way through reefs just makes me worse, today coming in here my stomach began to act up, it is so tied in knots it objected. Poor Barry, I did apologize and we are going to stay here 2 nights, so although we are grating on coral hopefully we will be able to pull the anchor up when we leave without too much trouble and we can relax and enjoy our stay here.
We headed east from Savusavu and made it to a bay in Somosomo Straight just opposite Taveuni Island. The entrance into that bay was pretty easy, we had way points but we anchored in 25 meters of water, which is too much and Barry was worried about snagging on coral and/or dragging. Fortunately it was a very protected spot and there was little wind so Barry's worries came to naught. We went ashore and did sevusevu at a village and then the village chief, Thomas, led us up the hill we wanted to climb. When we got back to the village the ladies had arranged tea and scones for us. It was very pleasant sitting in the shade drinking tea and chatting with them. Barry had told Thomas that he would take some pictures and have them printed and sent to him. Everyone wanted in on the action.
The ladies were straightening out the pandana leaves to make them ready for weaving mats. The leaves are picked when they are green and then boiled to make them soft and then hung to dry outside on a wooden rack, much like people in the NWT hang fish to dry. The foliage is about a meter long and once it has been dried the ladies use a shell (it looked like a big oyster shell, it had mother of pearl on the inside) to flatten it. They run the shell up and down the leaves until they are flat and then they roll them on two fingers into a tight bundle, first rolling one way and then switching hands and directions until it the bundle is tight and flat. I have a woven fan that has black pieces in it so I asked how they dyed the leaves. I think they said they use soil to colour them and then when they boil them they add a leaf which would stain them black. I had a go at making a frond flat but was not much good at it. I would have liked to try rolling it up once it was flat because I think I may have been better at that, it looked rather like winding wool.
Later on this morning, hopefully after I have gone back to sleep, we are going to explore this island. It is the location of a former leper colony, which has been converted to an aquaculture station. Maybe I will stop here and add more after we have been ashore.