The tall tales of the wonderful Ninigo group were all true! We've truly reached the South Pacific. We were welcomed on arrival by Slim and invited to anchor off Mal Islands where we befriended Steven and family. Our friends here were unbelievably hospitable - we thought we might stay forever.
We were always invited to share in treats - one morning this happened to be freshly caught turtle. Caught by spear - vegos be warned - and while the butchering was a little startling, the taste was really delicious. The Ninigo Islanders have been eating turtle since forever, with such a small population to feed, turtles and food are in abundance. Not one part of the animal was wasted too - even the intestines were used - as balloons for the kids!
One day we were invited to sail with Dominic and his father aboard their hand built sailing canoe. With logging on the increase on mainland, stray logs washing up on the Ninigo beaches has brought about a resurgance in the use of traditional sailing canoes. This boat could move - even with the 4 of us we were skipping over the water at over 10knots.
Mr Krein took us on a tour of the local school, traditional style buildings with wide open windows looking over the clear blue sea. Not sure I could focus on the blackboard here!
The launch of a newly built canoe was a big affair including Steven, our host on Mal Island blessing the new boat, singing, flowers, a feast and a canoe race in which we featured as guest crew. What an amazing day spent with beautiful people. Steven even gave Simon the shirt off his back - the one he is wearing while blessing the canoe.
Steven's fmaily taught us how to make coconut milk and oil, grinding the coconut then squeezing the grindings. It was hard work but the oil was delicious, flavoursome and super useful - cooking, oil lamps, the body... Like I need an encouraging on the benefits of a daily coconut! Thyme was now bursting at the seams with fresh food too. Everyday piles of produce would be rowed out to us, while the families expected nothing in return we had stocked up on some supplies for trading and basic goods are in desperate need here. I hate to confess for fear of backlash but a packet of ciggies buys a lot of crayfish!
A supply ship arrives only once or twice a year, and as you imagine money on a small atoll a few hundred miles out to sea is not easy to come by, nor much use most of the time so trading was well received. Max and Nadine's bag of clothes has finally run out.
Tears were definitely shed departing Steven and his family on Mal Island, Ninigo, but with no wind on the near horizon we had better bite the bullet and keep moving closer to our destination - next stop Heina Atoll.