Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Maiden Voyage

Lembinwen Village is situated in Southwest Bay, Malekula, the very definition of ocean-front property. We made our first mission trip there back in July 2012 at the invitation of Aiel and his family. Lembinwen is unique because there are no roads on that part of the island, being “trapped” by the sea on one side and mountainous regions on the other. Because of it’s location on the bay, in conjunction with the huge lagoon, the primary form of transportation is local-style outrigger canoe (or more recently and less-common, fiberglass boats with outboard motors).

Canoes in Lembinwen are like cars in the Western world - i.e. most families have at least one, although there are a few who do not have one of their own. For various reasons, including access to the proper type of tree and cost, Aiel has not had a functioning canoe for many years. In theory, he and his family could walk to and from the garden, but it would be treacherous and very time consuming. The alternative they usually choose is borrowing a canoe, but that usually means they can only go to the garden when others aren’t. Their son Jansen is also a great fisherman, whether by net or spear or hook, but isn't able to fish as often as he could if they had a family canoe. Lastly, Titus LOVES the water and boats, and so he regularly asks if he too can borrow someone else’s canoe when we are there (not too keen on that one, as I would hate for him to damage or sink someone’s means to livelihood).

With all those facts in mind, late last year I asked Aiel to help me acquire a canoe. We found and purchased a proper “bluewater” tree, commissioned a neighbor to oversee the project, and the rest is history (ended up costing about US$200). During our recent trip to Southwest Bay, we were able to take the “Ti-US” (so named by Titus and pronounced “tie-you-ess”) on it’s maiden voyage. That evening, Aiel and I went out and hung the fishing net between two buoys (like a “trout line” in the States), and ended up with six fish by morning. Maybe I’m weird, but I feel two things being out in the canoe: [1] a little closer to New Testament times as we paddle the open water in a rather crude vessel, and [2] a little more manly because we provide the food with our bare hands. Titus enjoyed playing in and with the canoe for a few days, and I believe Aiel and Jansen are putting it to good use on a daily basis while we are back in Vila.

It would seem that my plan worked out quite nicely :)

Alexis, mom, me, Aiel and Benny (project manager)