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Vanuatu, Maewo Island

Mountains are rushing at us, lifting us, pushing us to the side, crashing down on us.

The insignificance of our being there in the pacific agitation seems not to be noticed by the water. A wave brakes on us, swallows us and then continues unbothered on its way, whole again.

Water is pouring inside Mardek, by buckets full through the companionway, drop by drop through every hatch, through every screw, every inexistent opening. I wish I could be like water, immense or ever so small, my essence unchanged. I would pierce through walls, find my way anywhere, I would be scattered apart for a while and melt back to unison when I would find the rest of me. Unchanged I would just be water, ice, steam, clouds or waves. Water, the essence of life, the essence of death. Water is. And we are trying to ride it.

The ocean is white foam and we still have 20 hours to go. We're surviving on canned food while watching the fresh veggies turning hairy and rotting, incapable to gather the strength or the will to do anything about it.

Then we arrive and our deep sounder is not working, but there are a few more boats and they tell us about the depth and where it is good to throw the anchor. We hug each other to feel the life we nearly lost. Hakan's skin on mine, his heat, his smell. We stay like that a while melting into the other, finding our bearings calming down our cells, stroking our souls. We eat fresh vegetables and rice. We open the windows to dry the boat and glide into our bed. It is 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Where are we? In the distance I hear voices. I feel safe. I move my legs, I push my head in my pillow's feathers, I extend my fingers to find Hakan, I lay a hand on him, I drift in oblivion again. Swallowed by angels' arms I fly to recovery. I open my eyes. The light is blue, it is morning. I look at Hakan, his face at peace, like a child's, he'll sleep 2 more hours.

A 15 hour nap.

The water is transparent. A dug out canoe rows its way towards us. A dark man and a frizzy haired child look at us. We greet each other. 'You come yesterday' he says, he smiles. We ask him if we can swim, if there are any crocodiles or man-eating sharks. 'No crocodiles' he giggles and goes on paddling ' no man-eating shark'. An American couple comes alongside with their dinghy. She speaks so loud she must be nearly deaf. They are very sweet though and tell us there's a party in the village that evening. We're invited. It will be their first night with electricity. Some boaties have found the means with New Zealand help to install a hydro electric generator on a waterfall just outside the village. Tonight is the night.

We go on land with the Americans, they introduce us to Chief Nelson. He has a grey beard, big round eyes and very few teeth left. He wishes us welcome. There's a little Occidental ceremony with applause and handshakes, a few low energy lamps are illuminating the area. 2 music bands from neighboring villages are playing, everybody is dancing, slowly, nonchalantly moving in the rhythm. Children as well, all of them are swinging under the electric bulbs.

A girl comes to me, she extends her hand, 'my name is Daffodil' I take her hand in mine and answer 'my name is Sophie' we both smile. We say a few words and she shyly giggles, 'You are so sweet' she says when really, she's definitely the sweet one. We eat freshwater shrimps in curry sauce and dance on, children, grandmas and chiefs hopping about the place, free in their bodies, free of worries.

There's a crocodile on the next island, 10 miles away, but none here, we shall hope he doesn't want to take a long swim in our direction when we'll go for our snorkeling. It's all becoming more and more dangerous. We spend a lot of time discussing our route. We might skip Australia and go to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia instead. We have had quite a few signs about avoiding Australia, and I don't fancy going there at all any more. If this is the last lap of our exploring the remote world, what the hell would we do there?

a lot of things are breaking, Hakan is sewing the sail, yesterday he fixed the deep sounder, the anchor winch has broken, a steel line holding the mast snapped when we got here, at least a hundred liter of water was collected from under the floorboards, the antenna broke and when Hakan went up the mast to take it off he realized the rope that holds the boom was just about the snap as well. This was a hard passage. Hakan's fixing it all. We're forgetting the hardship in this sweet paradise, when we will have forgotten enough we'll pull up the anchor and sail on.

Forgetting, that's a golden rule throughout the seamen world. If you wouldn't forget the hardship of the passages you'd get stuck somewhere and then that would be it. It happens too many and I wonder why it doesn't happen to me? I'm on land and at peace for a few days and the whole hell dissipate behind some cloud in my head, a few good nights and I'm all set again. Probably it has to do that if I get stuck here, I will not be able to go on with our new projects, with our life. It is a horrible feeling to get stuck, might it be geographical or mental. Life is movement. If you stop, you go against world's will and end up ill.

22.08.2006 / Vanuatu, Maewo Island

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