Louisiade Archipelago, Papua New Guinea

We are now in the Lousiade archipelago of Papua New Guinea, cruising these many remote and lovely islands before 'checking in' at Misima. The people here have even less than the Solomon Islanders. Their soil is not as productive so they have less food to trade. Some earn cash by harvesting the beche de mer, a sea slug which is very popular with the Japanese and Asians. They are just as sincere and loveable, though they are some times more reserved. No canoes for the kiddies to jump into and surround us with giggles!

We just spent four days anchored near Gigila Island. We went ashore the first day and were greeted by four of the young mothers of the village. Maria and Theresa, who spoke very good English, made us feel very welcome. This was a special treat for me (Vicki), to be surrounded by the women and babies, since more often we are greeted and escorted by the men. I had recently come up with this notion that I could help the villages because I have a sewing machine (and electrical power.) I was thinking that perhaps I might offer to mend some of their clothes for them. (The phrase 'wearing rags' applies quite literally here). So I mentioned my sewing machine and offered to sew up whatever they might have.

Theresa passed her baby to a friend and ran off, returning with two metres of printed fabric. And then Bernadette did too, and Irene, the grand dame of the clan (seven daughters and three sons). To get quickly to the end of the story, I sewed for three days and turned out three Easter outfits, consisting of blouse and skirt (the babies nurse till they reach a year, so access is important), and several simple skirts. I could not say no. They also asked for and got - batteries, sewing thread, tobacco, second-hand clothes, sugar, salt, tea, fish hooks, flashlight bulbs, and balloons. They did not have much to give in return, but we got some tomatoes, bananas, drinking coconuts, grapefruits and limes.

We left this morning, with letters from them to post to yachts in Australia who will be returning to the Louisiades. (Christine wrote and politely asked for kitchen tools, clothes for her family and food for her children). I felt so sad to leave my new lady friends and their babies. Joy, then sadness. This is the texture of our lives now and we could not wish for more.