After spending the week cleaning and packing and scrubbing our beloved Far and Away I was exhausted. I lay down on the crisp white sheets in our rented house in Port Villa and expected sleep to come easily. Instead I lay there too tired even to turn over with my eyes open listening to Norm sleep softly and thinking over all the events of the past year. I was heartbroken to say good bye to our ship. We all were. Our dear boat provided so many cherished adventures and dream fulfilling experiences.
I woke up around five and guessed I must have eventually drifted off some time in the wee hours of the morning. Zak was sick and I volunteered to stay home while the family spent the day touring with the Vanuatu tourist organization. All day long Zak needed cuddles and would not let me put him down. I was pretty tired so in the mid morning as I lay down to nurse him to sleep I dozed with him.
The kids came back happy but tired from their days activities and we all snuggled in for a family movie before bed. Early the next morning Alyssa offered to stay with the baby so I could go with the family and spend more time exploring Port Villa. I had no expectations. In Tanna we had such incredible adventures each day but so far in Villa we just spent the time preparing the boat for her new owners. We meet several sets of Elders and sisters at church and they came over to eat and play on our boat as we getting ready to leave it. Still, I had not had a chance to see much of the island. Rachel, our tour director told us to pile in her van as she and the driver had a treat for us. For half an hour we talked and drove until we reached the climb up to “The Summit”. I was terrified as I realized our van was going to have to traverse up an incline so steep I thought we would fall off the mountain. I held my breath and was about to suggest we walk up when the engine roared and we pushed upwards and navigated crazy switchbacks that took our breath away. Before we knew it we were at the top and parked in front of a sign that welcomed us to “The Summit” botanical gardens. We were in for a couple hours of peace and tranquillity that almost made up for the tension of the drive up.
Rachel was right, we were in for a treat. In all our travels over the last year nothing reminded me of home as much as these enchanted gardens. My mom, an avid gardener, has a love for the colors and smells only nature can provide. With all her gardening, she creates art out of her work. As we meandered down coral paths I could almost feel her smiling beside me. Tucked around bends and in and out of bushes and flowers, were whimsical pieces of garden art. Teyauna loved the lily ponds and actually saw a fairy or two hiding between the lily flowers. Eli liked the edible gardens and Jaeden and Dailin took hundreds of pictures of the trees, plants, flowers and garden sculptures. Though the plants were tropical and native to the islands, they still had many reminders of a Canadian summer garden on the west coast. It took 11 years to create this unique oasis. With water features beside fragrant botanicals, I felt like we were in a tamed island jungle. They said most people take 45 min. to do the tour. It took us twice that long because everyone had questions and we stopped to smell and touch everything. We loved it. It inspired me to want to go home and work on my gardens. I loved finding this gem in such unexpected circumstances. I do not think I thought about Alyssa and the baby for a full two hours. It was a delight to be finished my work and out in nature. I know it will be winter when we return home but I will be planning for spring!!!!!