Sunday, August 13, 2006

Island time + Rations = Disaster

When we arrived at the pier to catch our boat to Lambubu, we were surrounded by masses of people. As we formed an assembly line to load all our rations and supplies onto the boat (kerosene stoves, food for 4 weeks, shovels, buckets and a disturbingly small amount of toliet paper) Jo started to worry.

"The boat is going to sink," she said. "Where are we all going to sit?"

Jo's fears weren't completely empty. The dock was swarming with people going to the islands, including a group of American Peace Corps. It was definitely a sketchy situation.

In fact, we all did have room to sit, but within 20 minutes of leaving Port Vila's sheltered bay, I started to feel sick. I tried to start up a rousing game of 20 questions to pass the time, but by the time Becca surpassed the 20th question (with her it was more like a game of 35 questions) I had already gone downstairs to vomit over the edge of the boat.

Which is where I spent the next 26 hours.

Nothing helped. I took motion sickness tablets in excess, hoping that at least they would help me sleep. One of the Americans, who I had to lean over to puke, offered me ginger candies and when I wouldn't stop throwing up, upgraded this to pure ginger that he had soaked in honey. "Not only will it calm your stomach, but it will help with the smell too," he told me with a nod. I looked down, and sure enough, the entire front of my shirt was covered in my own filth.

By midnight, the entire boat smelled like vomit and urine. We didn't have food to eat or enough water, because we had been told the boat ride would only be 15 hours long. (This was the first time that we really understood the far reaching influence of island time.) The only thing that made the trip worth it was passing a volcano in the middle of the night and seeing it's glowing red embers in the dark of the ocean.

Four weeks later, at the end of our town in Lambubu, we recieved word that we wouldn't be able to leave Malekula via the same boat, as it had gone out of business. Instead, we were informed that we would be leaving Lambubu on a cargo ship two days later. At this point in time, Nicole dropped the last roll of toliet paper in the sink. And then we were told that the entire island was out of toliet paper. But that's another story. Two days later, we packed to leave to find out that the cargo ship doesn't come to Malekula.

It was a one-hour plane ride home.

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