Just as the sun was breaking through the morning rain clouds our friend Pifa, was calling from the shore. We had arrived in his little village a day earlier and he was eager to show us around this side of the island. We had no plans for the day and when he arrived laden with fresh fruit and baguette sandwiches we happily agreed to sail with him to his family’s private white sand beach retreat.
We anchored our boat in the most idyllic little bay with white shores and swaying palms. The current was extremely strong so we set both the bow anchor and the stern anchor. Everyone set off to either play on the shores or spear fish in the crystal waters. Zak and I stayed back for a little while just to make sure the anchors were set well. From the boat the scene before me was something out of a movie. A tiny fishing hut constructed of palm fronds was outlined by lush green jungle foliage. A little stream coming from the mountains ran into the bay and horses wandered lazily along the sea shore.
Alyssa set up a little beach umbrella as Eli and Teyauna collected piles of tropical shells and left them to her protection.
Before long Zak fell asleep. I could see that the anchors were holding fine and Orin returned to the boat to stay with the baby so I jumped in the dingy with Norm and headed to shore. Unfortunately our shore landing was not as perfect and Norm and I both ended up under the boat instead of on dry sand. No harm done I went ashore and rinsed off in the stream water.
Pifa introduced me to his mother in law who lives in this little bay full-time. She only leaves once a week as it is a two hour hike out with no road access. Family come during the week and help her work the copra farm but other than that she lives very quietly. As Peefa led us to her home I was struck anew at how different our lives were from these island people.
Teyauna asked why her home had a dirt floor and a little river running through it. Eli liked how the blankets and ropes for the horses were in the same room as the kitchen. Both the kids were impressed with the white cloth tied around the piped-in stream water to filter any dirt out. The roof was tin and the sides were made of wood and old thatch. Just last month a solar panel was installed to power the lone bare light bulb. In our world this would be a picture of poverty. Here however this family had everything they could want or need. Once a week her son-in-law brought mangoes, papayas, taro, bananas, bread fruit and starfruit from the family plantation in the mountains. There were a pile of freshly fried fish caught by a cousin on the table. The coconut husks for fires were neatly piled in the cooking room area. Dusty mosquito nets draped each of the beds that were always ready for visitors or family members. I felt a wave of longing for a life few can achieve.
After we ate fish and drank stream water Teyauna and Eli rode one of the copra farm horses through the trees and back down to the sea shore.
A few hours seemed to disappear into moments and all too soon it was time to go. As Norm went off to pick up Dailin who was still spearfishing Jaeden helped me unload the dingy and prepare to leave. Just as we were loading up to get back on the boat a speargun slipped into the water. Without thinking Jaeden dove straight into the water and rescued it. We all cheered and continued to pack up. As we pulled anchor we realized our stern anchor was so tight due to the extremely strong current and it actually had begun cutting into our rudder. As the boys dove down they could see the damage. We will have to fix it soon. Later as we resettled into Hanaiapa we were going over all the equipment and we were missing the underwater photo/video camera. Jaeden recalled that it must have slipped out of his pocket when he dove for the speargun. This was disappointing to everyone because we do not have a way to replace it here in these remote islands. No one blamed Jaeden but he felt bad just the same. We discussed how we all need to be more careful with everything we have.