Ephraim returned with a selection of local fruits from the village.
Ephraim showed me how to drink the liquid out of a young coconut. It was full of sterile water with a mild taste of the coconut. The meat of the coconut fruit about half a centimeter thick with the consistency of cartilage, lined inside of the shell.
Chloroquine Phosphate was used locally as an antimalarial medicine. CDC site noted this was ineffective for the malaria strains in this area, and WorldClinic advised me to use a daily dose of Doxycycline instead.
I made friends while at Finsch Harbor... (Part 1)
February 15, 2009
My arrival at Finsch Harbor had hinted at the great spirit of the Kamlawa village people. They had sent out their men to ensure my safety and to make certain that I was not desperate for help. These same men became my companions, guardians and advisors. When I left Finsch Harbor on Tuesday evening behind the cargo vessel UMBOI, after telling them that I would return in September, I had a warm feeling that I was going to return to be among friends who would have missed me. I called out "see you in September" from my rowboat to each of them, receiving a warm hand wave back.
I spent most of my days at the Maneba Wharf under the rain tree with its spreading branches which provided much needed shade. Even with persistently cloudy skies, it would get hot when the sun barely glowed through as a light grey orb. To receive any decent breeze on the calmer days, I had to be outside in the open under the tree. Staying in the cabin was impossible due to the stagnant air which felt like a sauna, and due to the maddening touch-n-fly of the black flies on my skin. The flies were so numerous, and kept landing on my skin just long enough to grab and annoy -- they would just take off again. This went on incessantly as long as I stayed in the cabin. They appeared out of nowhere; they must have had a messenger which flew back out to also let their brothers know... soon there would be a dozen of them to drive me out of my cabin.
The local villagers who had heard about my arrival wanted to know more about my row across the Pacific Ocean and the Bismarck Sea. The word had spread very quickly to Kamlawa to the north, and Kolem to the south. I had waves of men and boys come to watch me. Often I would wake up to see men, mostly with bare feet standing on the wharf looking at my boat, sometimes down at me if there was low tide. The first morning there, on Thursday, perhaps 10 men were standing on the wharf, with three or four of them holding long bush knives in their hands, the tips of which reached their ankles. PNG version of the machete, these were used to clear fields or to cut a path through thick underbrush. In the wrong hands they could easily be turned into weapons to maim others. They would stand there rarely talking, in Pidgeon among themselves if at all. They would stare and look for an hour or two at a time, observing my every move.
Not all of them spoke English even though English was the official language of education. If there was a conversation, they wanted to know if I was married, or if I had children. They would ask where I had come from, and I would answer that I had started from California and had spent 312 days at sea, coming very close to the Ninigo Group islands north of Wewak. "I had come within 135 miles left to reach Wewak when the winds turned against me taking me offshore. In another three four days, I could have been off the water," I explained. "I started from the same place; I was at sea over the last 20 days to reach here from near Ninigo Group..." At the end of each sentence of mine, silence would hang in the air which would often be interrupted with sounds of clicking tongues, "tch-tch-tch-tch" -- in an expression of amazement.
I felt self conscious in the presence of onlookers, unable to work or to prepare myself food for I felt that I would actually prolong their stay if I did anything interesting, or would have to offer them as well. Not knowing the traditions and having limited supplies was an uneasy feeling. A few times I had to turn my back to pee into a bottle while standing in my foot well. I was the center of their attention and without me, the inanimate boat was not interesting enough to justify standing around. Later on, one morning when I found myself dripping wet with sweat in the boat, I climbed up and past the wall of onlookers, then walked toward the shade under the rain tree to journal some. The human wall which had been blocking the light breeze that whole time, soon dissipated. I had accidentally stumbled on a simple crowd control measure...
It was good to see familiar faces returning to the wharf on Thursday the 5th. Ephraim was first to return in the morning on a bicycle. He and Levilevi had been the first ones to reach me from the Kamlawa village the day before in their blue dugout canoe, Sea Sprite. He asked me whether I would like fruits, then left after hearing that I had had no fresh fruits while I was at sea the prior three weeks. When he returned, he had a plastic bag filled with small local bananas, two of the large green local papaya variety called pawpaw, a few mangoes and three fresh coconuts. "Wait for the pawpaw to ripen a bit, a couple days, and don’t leave the coconuts in the sun, so the drink does not get hot," he instructed me. I knew that young coconuts had liquid inside, what I had not known was that they were absolutely filled with it! It was Ephraim again who showed me how to drink out of one, by uncapping it near the stem with a bush knife.
Philip, who had met me in another canoe the day before, arrived by late morning. When we were walking toward the spring pond the prior evening to wash, I had asked him what medication they were using against malaria. He now had remembered to bring a bottle of the antimalarial tablets called Chloroquine Phosphate with him. "Take three tablets weekly," he said; I took three right then. I had also written an email message to WorldClinic about this, providing them with my location and the duration of my planned stay. WorldClinic’s advice was that in the area where I was, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website, Chloroquine Phosphate was not effective and that I should instead use a daily dose of Doxycycline. That medication was already available in my medical kit, which had been provided by WorldClinic ahead of time.