Aloha Family and Friends,
This is more than just an update from Peace and Aloha! We have very exciting and happy news to announce! While we have been cruising from island to island here in the Louisiades, Julie and Chris have been busy working very hard at their jobs and are all established in their new home in Evergreen, Colorado, so that we will soon be able to experience the joys of being first time grandparents. We are to be GRANDPARENTS in March 2004! Jason and Eric are also very excited about their upcoming rise in status, to that of uncle!
We have been spending almost a week each at many different island anchorages here in the Louisiade Islands of Papua New Guinea to meet and to interact with the villagers. We have visited Panacia, Kamatal, Moturina, Misima, Pana Numara, Gigila, Hessessai, Grass, and Hati Lawi. We are presently at Nimoa Island, which is the last island in the Calvados Chain of Islands here in the Lousisiades. We have found these islanders to be an absolute delight, being friendly but somewhat shy, generous, honest, happy, and kind. They are incredibly poor in material wealth, but they truly live in a paradise. They work very hard in their gardens which are cleared by the slash-and-burn method which sometimes burns out of control charring much of the island. Most gardens are located on the sides of cliffs above the ocean. Their main crops are yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, papayas, bananas, and coconuts which they feed to themselves, their pigs and dogs. They also catch fish and raise pigs. They appear healthy and well nourished, but we are wondering how they survive with little or no health care.
We have been eating and enjoying mainly local food with our fresh caught fish and lobster. We trade t-shirts, pencils, lollies/candy, pens, exercise books, toys, rice, sugar, fish hooks, magazines, kerosene, needles, and anything else we can find lying around the boat for yams, pumpkin, squash, bananas and papayas. We have purchased local baskets, pottery, and baggi which are shell necklaces they use as money to purchase brides, pigs, and property. We were hoping to find ebony wood carvings but those seem to be made only at Woodlark and Trobriand Islands, which are about 150 miles north. We will not be traveling there because we need to check out of Misima by August 29, when our 60 day visa expires. There is never enough time with this life style to visit all the interesting places - it would take a lifetime! We have spent many hours snorkeling on their beautiful pristine reefs with myriads of brightly colored fish and coral. We have sighted many species that are new to us. Fortunately for us and the native population, there is no ciguatera poisoning and all the fish are safe to eat.
David, Jason, Eric and Larry on *Canadian Flyer* went on a pig hunt with the villagers while in Hati Lawi. They found no pigs, but they had quite a hike through the tropical rain forest sighting many parrots and beautiful butterflies. They also saw crocodile tracks. We have been warned about crocodiles here in Nimoa and in Hati Lawi. We have visited many of the villages and have been welcomed into their homes and their schools. We "dim dims" are quite a novelty! The children like to touch our white skin and unfortunately we have made some of the babies cry by smiling at them from our white faces! We walk through villages feeling like the Pied Piper with all our little friends in tow! We have promised many schools that we will forward much needed school supplies to them upon our return to Australia. We obviously did not bring enough books and school supplies which are sorely needed, especially at many of the small villages. We are completely enthralled with the beautiful smiles of the little children! It is somewhat different to be talking with the adults who have red, black or no teeth! It is hard to understand why these people continue to chew betel nut when it is so destructive to their health. Unfortunately, we have found very few older people, actually 40 is old here. Their life is hard and health care is nearly nonexistent. There is also malaria and tuberculosis in the islands which we is also a grave concern for us.
We really enjoyed the festivities put on for the visiting Catholic bishop here in Nimoa at St. Alphonsus Mission Church. They had traditional singing and dancing in their native dress of grass skirts and interesting body decoration. We were thrilled to be included in these festivities because we have not had any chance to experience their traditional culture until now. Bishop Francesco is from Italy and the entire Milne Province of Papua New Guinea is included in his diocese. He sailed from island to island, sometimes during very strong winds and big seas, in order to perform confirmation ceremonies at many of these islands. He confirmed 66 children on Rossel and attended several more ceremonies at different islands before arriving here on August 6 to confirm 27 more. He traveled to Grass Island and then planned to sail north to Woodlark and the Trobriand Islands. He also told us that he was being called to Rome at the end of the month to meet with the Pope and other bishops working as missionaries in countries such as Papua New Guinea. We were invited to tea with cake after the ceremony to meet the Bishop, the local priest, Father Matthew, and the Mission Sisters Madeline and Catherine. The Sisters work in the hospital here, which is mainly a maternity hospital. The hospital has no doctor and no drugs. The Mission also has a beautifully decorated church, a parish store, and a school. Papua New Guinea has many different languages as did Vanuatu. We are thankful that most people do speak English.
We hope that you are enjoying the summer season in the northern hemisphere as we enjoy the winter down-under. We love hearing from you so keep your news updates coming! We are working diligently on answering all of your nice emails and also on bringing our website at www.peaceandaloha.com up-to-date, including pictures of our adventures. We will not be able to do all the updates until we are back in Australia to access the internet in a month or so. Take care. Be safe. God Bless!
With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
August 9, 2003
Nimoa, Louisiades, Papua New Guinea