Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goodbye Ono

Nomad and crew made the 24 hour trip back to Lautoka and arrived yesterday. The almost two months of village life was a true gift to me. When I first arrived in Ono I was put off by a lot of features of the community. There are many rules and layers of rules that direct the structure of the community, its visitors and the roles of the people that live there. For example, a village is made up of a few different clans. Each clan has a different identity such as the chiefly clan, the spokesmen clan, the landowner clan, the fishing clan, etc. Children are taught as they grown up who they are, who the other people are. I don't completely understand it all but it's an example of how village life gives people identity. People know when someone walks past who their father, grandfather, and other ancestors were. They know the stories of that person's heritage. It doesn't stop there. In a village less than half a mile long and a quarter mile deep, houses sometimes 10 feet away from each other, Family strife can't be hidden, privacy is hard to come by. While I can see drawbacks to living like this, the sense of being known and integrated into the lives of other people is very real. When we walked through the village, we were known by every single person. Even if we didn't see someone watching us, or had never met them, they knew our purpose and that we belonged on the yacht parked out front of their beach, and they all knew Eloise's name. We were accepted to walk on their paths, eat their limes, papayas, pick up their seashells and do our laundry at their spigots. By accepting us, they accepted responsibility for Eloise, in the same way that every villager demonstrated responsibility for every child in the village. Eloise, and all the other children in the village, had a village full of aunties and uncles and older brothers and sisters. Again, there were some drawbacks to this (Eloise had her cheeks pinched about 50 times per day). But the feeling of being accepted, the gift of having other people responsible to watch my child, the sound of "come in for a cup of tea?" from a door as we walked passed, those are all good things. I will miss the village community and our friends there.

We have two more weeks here in Fiji. We will spend that time taking Eloise to the beach, provisioning the boat for Brian's passage to Hawaii, doing maintenance and preparatory projects for the passage, and hopefully Brian will get in a little bit of surfing as we are near to Cloudbreak, a well known surf break.

After that, we fly to New Zealand to see Eloise's Nana and Papa, John and Annette Carr. As our original plan had been to return Nomad to New Zealand this year, we have some unfinished business such as selling the car we bought and cleaning out the items that migrated from Nomad into their storage room. But Eloise has a few new skills she wants to show off as well. After the short visit in New Zealand, Brian will return to Fiji, meet up with Jeff Ault arriving from California and set off on their trip when the weather is right. Eloise and I will fly to San Francisco and start trying to adjust to life in a house again.

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