Archive for May, 2009
May 31st, 2009
Everyone knows Murphy’s Law; it’s a near universal phenomenon. Here in
Who could have thought the flight would be cancelled. “For what reason?” I asked. “The grass is too long”. “But”, Ruth jumped in, ”the radio operator told us it was being cut even as we spoke earlier today”. That at least sent the agent into the back office. She came back five minutes later. The grass has not been cut; “sorry, flight canceled”.
So, the four of us – two government officers [environment and forestry] Ruth and I – headed back to town ….to set about an alternative. That meant driving to
How we managed to get out, even by 4:20am Tuesday, I still don’t know because by the time we completed the alternate plan and went to sleep, there were many more than four of us going: Chief Solomon and Purity [his wife] and an adopted daughter; Kalfau [from Wunpuko] his wife and another young woman traveling with them; big Johnsta [also from Wunpuko – Ruth and I call him ‘little John’, he wantéd to be with us on the trek]. With everyone’s gear, the truck was seriously heavy, and much of the unmade parts of the road had deteriorated since last we passed that way.
We still got to Matantas just after 6:30am. Almost half of the east coast road has been re-graded in preparation for tar-sealing, even if it was a month ago, and we pulled into Solomon’s beachfront compound [which included his new guest house; we were first to be sheltered whenever it was last year when they finished it]. We could now see the approach of the boat we had heard. Everyone helped to carry and stow the materials; it looked like half a truckload was laid out on the beach..
I took the truck back up to park it with Solomon’s eldest son Bill. [He would keep it safe until we returned, probably even wash it - which he did]. Then I joined everyone else on the beach [there were eight of us now for the boat, two crew and all of our gear. So it took almost seven hours to land this 25horse-powered boat at Wunpuko. The boat was so heavy it wallowed in the waves; the only blessing a tail wind and a mostly obscured-by-cloud sun.
Nonetheless the trip had its own moments. Up near north ’
The guest house at Wunpuko village is now furnished with much more than just the foam mattresses we brought with us on our last visit. Now there are [hard] hardwood chairs, tables & chairs, and beds to carry the mattresses. All in all it resembled a rustic, naïf version of a motel – much appreciated for the nap that was by now quite overdue [and a must-have before supper].
In due course, a parade of dishes arrived. I can still recall the taste of the deep dark green, baked cabbage, and pumpkin in coconut cream. And then so much taro even to talk about it is overeating. [There was also a plate of fish or meat for the other two guests].
We planned to go up in two groups in the early morning as there were two different missions, but for some reason departure didn’t take place until close to 9:00am [You will recall that the others were there to catalogue the bio-diversity in what will ’officially’ be the Edenhope-Wunpuko Conservation Area].
Our purpose [Ruth’s & mine] was to actually camp on the land for several days; at least for a couple of nights. And with our ‘Little John’, Elsie and Madeleine, we set out to take a longer, but easier path [rather than straight up -.since that is where we may extend the old trail road that rises two or three kms up into the forest ….to make the logistics of getting building materials up to the site somewhat easier].
Still it took nearly four hours to get to the old grassy crater at 530m. Once across it, though, instead of descending into the storied forest again, we followed the ridge first back to the north that joined the crater to the lands the Village wanted us to have, climbing soon another 100m along the spine of the mountains and then heading south – the ridge, at 625m, parts the run-offs, those flowing to the east, into Big Bay and those to the west, into the deep South Pacific.
Several kilometers from the crater and more than two hours later, we started the descent into the heart of what we are sure will be the site of the Edenhope project – the first small plateau where some of the village will be built. That descent, however, followed another steep ridge down nearly 90m. The dramatic entry, metaphorically consistent with what one expects at the entry to Shangri ‘la, started thoughts about how we would get materiel down the slippery slope.
However, once there, I was drawn to look to the left, at the most stunning, enchanted hall reaching deep into the forest and coming right here, to where we stood. It is for sure that here the lisepseps [the little people that are probably called ‘hobbits’ now] must still play with those unsullied by a cynical education.
We all five slept in a four-man tent, laid out like sardines, not a sound from anyone the whole night – as day broke around 5.45 that morning, Little John could be heard chopping firewood, and generally preparing for the day. The two girls set about finding us all some forest nuts to eat, and some fresh green leaves wrapped around pieces of mature coconut flesh…….. forest snacking is wonderful.
No more for now – you have some pictures to ponder. We got back to town a day later than planned. And members of the steering committee were due to come early in the week to do their own ‘due diligence’ in advance of negotiating the lease. They’re here; now it’s their fifth day…. everything in its own time in
We’ve been really quite busy though with one thing or another. That includes getting some astonishing information about people on Maewo, a more remote island in this part of
Now we are convinced we must go and talk with these wondrous people who still survive with at least some of their senses intact. Isn’t that just so thrilling? They’re actually doing some of what we have come here to learn ….that and of course much more!
May 3rd, 2009
We are awaiting the end of a 30-day notice period [for disputes concerning the lands the Village.has voted to give us]. For some reason it didn’t get posted for sime weeks after it was sent to Wunpuko. In any event it expires Sunday week, the 10th - we are confident of a positive outcome.
Proceeding with the present schedule, we have two forestry and environment officers going up on Monday 18th to do the bio-diversity study for the Conservation Area. They will stay until the 22nd, camping at the same cabin [Freeman’s] we were at in March, adjacent to the conservation area [his garden is bursting with fresh food]. When appetite calls, I can tell you, there’s not much more delicious than roasted Fiji Taro.
But it’s the citrus here that is superb, astounding. I’ve never seen such variety of fruit, novel ones too. There’s a pamplemousse here we’ve never seen anywhere else; nor as delicious. It’s called ‘marcotte’. So it was with great aforethought we brought the [one-arm] squeezer from
Ten of the fifteen buildings that will comprise phase one of the Edenhope Project venue are in pre-fab [kit] form now; and waiting here in Luganville to be transported back up to Wunpuko. Hopefully it will occur on the back-haul of a timber charter boat ….but only once we have the signed lease.
The village now has an elected committee to represent them in negotiating with us. We’re grateful as it will lead more efficiently to the finalization of a lease. There are five or six members, the chairman [Kalfau] is pastor of one [AOG] of the three churches in Wunpuko.
By a happy coincidence of church affairs, he was in Luganville this week and shared a couple of meals with us. He summed up the sentiment of the village in that they are honored to have the Project in their lands. There has been some concern at the demise of certain species that had ‘always been there’– thus tremendous respect for our purpose has filled the space allotted for us in the psyche of the villij.
The full extent of comprehending our mission has nonetheless been very slow to catch fire. [Reflect upon it in your own lives].. It is clearly so [r]evolutionary a concept as to be too much to grasp [I am reminded of Camus’ haunting question:- ‘How do I live with what I know?’] It took the government people the better part of two years ….to get it-!
Ruth and I have settled into a rhythm of knowing that things just take that much more time here than we are used to. So we wake each morning [most of them] at 5:30 and hie out to the golf course to walk [she] or run [me] the fairways and small hills. The club is the only one in Santo; we joined just for that purpose. I got to 12 pull-ups today. What a milestone! [the first one took almost eight months – I wondered if ‘it’ would ever come back again].
To see Ruth doing Sun Salutations on the hill of the eighth hole, I am already heading back down to the ninth – and the sea - close to the end of an exhilarating run and some finishing exercises ….and we meet again in the adjacent surf. I really must take pictures so you can appreciate the small joys we’ve loved while experiencing the time it has taken to get Edenhope really under way. Hard to believe we’re half-way into our third year. [I once put an airline together in nine weeks].
More on the ‘to-do’ list ….revisions to the ‘management plan’ for the Conservation Area’, but the overall plan has been accepted already. It was an important element of the plan ….to formalize it as a national environmental event – so that it could enjoy the protection of law. As such it has constitutional status.
We really should get back up there soon so will probably go up with them on 18 May. We’ll no doubt then spend time in the sites where we will build our village. With luck we will also settle some of the conditions [and adjustments to the perimeter] of the lease, maybe site the water sources [springs] which will satisfy our village’s needs.
The logistics of this endeavor are daunting – but essentially near to being solved now. An Aussie builder who wants to come live in
And once-a-week air service has been restored to Lajmoli, the nearest airport to Wunpuko, making trips there somewhat easier to plan at least. Cargo boats still ply along the coast, carrying timber and copra, and one can always hop a ride on them, although they are infrequent. So you can wait on the beach….
We expect this time we’ll get a campsite established – and perhaps a shelter built for the several of us who’ll be there from time to time while the main event shapes up and the project of regaining our sacred garden, Edenhope ….begins.