Where extremes meet
We have not been writing a lot these few months, not that we had nothing to say; on the contrary we had such powerful experiences that we needed the time to digest them before putting them on paper or on writing. For sure, this has not been the easiest part of the trip. Before starting we had a lot of concerns and had to get ready, collect information in order to avoid as much as possible risks or bad situations where we did not want to get involve. Solomon and PNG are facing a lot of challenges and there is a growing violence in some places, rascals, so we decided to avoid any big town or hot place, which made sometimes sailing more difficult as we had to avoid some anchorages on the way. But the harder it gets to get to places the more rewarding they are. Solomons has been a highlight of our trip. We met the most incredible people in Graciosa Bay, our beloved friend Ashley and the family of Benchris with who we spent long hours discussing about values, about the future. For sure they are facing some challenges, trying to continue with kastom (traditional way), which disappears among the young people. Together they have to decide if they want to continue with logging (which is devastating the forest and means money for today but probably hunger for tomorrow). Logging has even some consequences in marine life as it changes the marine ecosystem. Some fish species are disappearing, changing the whole fish chain. The traditional way of fishing of these villages is sustainable but foreigners are aggressively entering those waters to fish big quantities of sea cucumber, groupers, lobsters, sharks, tuna and that is affecting the whole system. To add up, due to global warming, some of the islands are starting to be over floated, not enabling the growing of the crops that is one of the main food sources of the islands. Even some islands are starting to disappear under the water. So for sure the challenges that islanders are facing are not easy and we feel pretty responsible. Who is being polluting the sea and air for the last decades causing global warming? Who needs nice wood furniture for the housing? Who does massive fishing in the pacific? Those are our challenges as well, more than to anyone, we should try to reconsider our needs and priorities and to look after mother nature which has given us everything and we have to respect her now if we don’ t want to kill her!!
In those remote places of Solomon and PNG life goes on as it was probably 500 years ago. We heard the most amazing stories about the people, having to cope with the difficulties of nature: how do they live with Tsunamis, cyclones, drought with “El Niño” year, far away from everywhere and with no communication.
Richard and Justin, from Mal Island in Ninigo once told us that to get to the next village to get fuel or rice or to go to the hospital, or even to give birth they had to go with the little boats and travel 150 miles in the open ocean. Richard capsized with the boat some months ago. Among the crew was one woman with her one-month-old baby. They built with a little container a floater so the baby was not in the water. At one stage the mother almost let the baby go, but she held on. They spent 12 hours drifting in the sea and emptying the water of the boat, releasing the engine to the deep ocean and they manage to float the boat again and were all safe, even the baby. Luckily, some fishermen found them. Life here is always on a string. It depends on your strength, your resilience, your not let it go, and probably a little luck as well. We have been hearing the most breathtaking stories.
In Ale, the village has to live surrounded by crocodiles, which means that kids are only allow to swim for 5 minutes in order not to attract the crocs. Every year some people die due to crocodile attacks. We met some people that survived it, just heating the head of the crocodile very strongly or looking at its eyes or even talking to them.
We have been learning a lot about all those places, all these people and for sure all that has an impact on ourselves and as well on our way of life.