Our alarm went off at five o'clock this morning, and we woke up Benjamin at his request. We found that the rat had totally ignored the trap Aaron had set with nice fresh fruit in it. Instead, our local rodent chewed through a container to get to the pumpkin seeds I was saving to plant when we came back!
We started pulling sheets off the beds, and as soon as it was light outside, we began moving our boxes down to the shore to await the motor canoe. Several of the village kids helped us with some of the lighter pieces of cargo.
Both yesterday morning and this morning, we noticed lots of activity around breakfast time in the tall bush apple tree right in front of our house. Loaded with white blossoms, the tree was center court for catching a flying fox, and this morning the trap was successful. I kept hearing the adults call out to the kids, "Bakeil mi?" (Is it big?) And the kids always responded, "Ire ke!" (Yes, indeed!)
I wish we could have stuck around to see how my neighbors cook this flying mammal. Evidently, lekofat (flying fox) is a delicacy.
Once we had everything down on the beach, we went back up to the house to enjoy playing cards. Around eight o'clock, Katherine and I were about to stomp everybody and win the round when we heard the ship's engine chugging around the corner of our island. We all went into "exit mode". The kids are so great. Everybody knows the routine now, who gets what bag, and just how long the loading is going to take. Aaron went in the first motor canoe load with most of our cargo, then the rest of us followed with the personal bags like the life jackets and computers. We also carried a bag full of cassava pudding from my friend, Sylvester, to her son who is staying in Honiara.
Then it was our turn to climb up the rope ladder while our friends held the boat still below us and Aaron offered his hand above us.
We finally pulled out of Marulaon a little bit after nine. Some kind people made space in our favorite area in the front of the ship so we wouldn't have to breathe the diesel fumes. The kids each found a little space and settled in for the long ride back to Honiara.
When we arrived in Yandina, Benjamin moved to sit and guard some of our boxes, Sarah and Aaron went ashore to see what they could find at market and to try and locate our petrol can from Aaron and Henk's infamous trip in April.
After a couple of hours waiting in Yandina, playing a complete game of Phase 10, and watching the loading innumerable of bags of copra, we finally set off for Honara. The ocean got rolling and so did my belly. The crystallized ginger our SITAG director sent in a care package helped a little bit.
We enjoyed the muted sunset, and darkness fell before we finally pulled into Honiara and had to wait a while for a spot to open up at the wharf. We were so grateful to see our SITAG colleagues with the truck and even more grateful for the hot pizza that awaited us with more SITAG colleagues back on top of Tanuli Ridge.
Thanks for the prayers that so many of you offered up on our behalf. We couldn't have asked for a smoother trip and a great beginning for our next stay in Honiara!