Tuesday, December 22
Melissa took Joy and me fishing today while my sweet husband stayed home and taught the kids again. I had asked Grace if we could borrow her big canoe, so around 8 a.m. Melissa came by the house to get us. She showed me how to tie my fishing line, and we grabbed the paddles and headed over to Grace's. When we got there, we learned that Chief Leonard had borrowed the canoe that morning. While we waited, Melissa showed us how to crush the shells to get to the kokovan (hermit crabs) inside. We found lots of mama crabs with eggs - I didn't like that too much. After we took off the shells, we ripped off each leg to leave the body for bait. I didn't like that either. After we finished preparing the bait, we began to fish from the shore. Lots of laughter rang through the air as we tried to keep from tangling our line. The wind was brisk, so we went to fish around the corner of the point (where the water becomes Fly Harbour instead of the Pacific Ocean). Melissa caught two small squid. One of them inked her as she yanked it out of the water!
Melissa decided to get her small canoe since the big canoe was still gone, so Joy and I continued to practice our casting. About the time Melissa came back with her canoe, the chief showed up with his big canoe. So, we all loaded up into the big one and paddled out into the harbour. I had never sat with the board on top of the canoe. Last time I went, we put the board down inside the canoe. It was a whole new balancing act and oblique workout! I was in front this time as lead paddler and anchor mover. Joy sat in the middle, and Melissa steered from the back. The first place we tried, the fish didn't like our bait. So, we hoisted anchor (a challenge to my balancing) and tried another spot. In the second spot, the fish liked our "all you can eat buffet". We watched the fish through the very clear water. They knew how to nibble the bait without taking the hook - it was so frustrating! But we ended up with 17 small fish. Joy caught 2, I caught 3, and Melissa caught the rest.
We headed back toward shore, but about 20 yards from shore we finally lost the battle of the balancing and turned over the canoe. Thankfully, the three of us were the only things that fell out of the canoe - our fish and equipment stayed in. I hung on to the front of the canoe and kicked while Joy and Melissa (the expert swimmers) pushed the canoe from behind. We soon touched bottom and pulled the canoe up to shore. As I dripped my way back to the house to fetch the knife, many women asked "Did you catch lots of fish?". We soon had the fish cleaned and headed back home to eat a very late lunch and take a shower.
Wednesday, December 23
Melissa helped us harvest one patch of umalau and some of our obikola today. The ground was really dry (still no rain), so the root crops were difficult to extract from the ground. For the obikola (cassava), you just hack off the trunk, then pull out the roots (it's harder than it looks). We only needed two obikola to make lelenga tomorrow, but we had LOTS of umalau. After we finished harvesting, the kids and I finished school and Melissa weeded. Christmas break starts tomorrow, and we'll celebrate by making lelenga!