Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rabi Island - May 24 - 28 2016 - Meeting Joseph and Maria - Home of the Banaban

Rabi Island is inhabited by displaced Banabans from Ocean Island in Micronesia.  Phosphate mining devastated Ocean Island, so the British bought Rabi for resettlement.  Tho Fijian citizens since 1945 they still speak their own native tongue and their lifestyle preserves age old traditions.  Albert Cove is a little touch of Paradise quite isolated from the rest of the inhabitants of Rabi.  It is also home to Joseph and Maria.

 Joseph and Maria and family were the only ones present during our visit and were in the process of cutting Ironwood (has tough as it sounds) with remarkable precision into 2 x 4 planking with a chainsaw no less, to build a new home in the village.   There is no easy is just plain and simple hard work...clear the jungle, fell the log, and cut your own building material.  It is a wee bit of a contest amongst the village men to locate and claim their trees.  Once felled, they are their property and woe be to the man who takes another s tree!

Joseph and Maria live extremely simple lives.  Without electricity or running water, they have no boat and the small lean-to that they inhabit and share with their livestock is evidence of how little they survive on.  They subsist on the land, coconuts, breadfruit, papa, taro, bananas, mangoes (in season) and lemons all grow on the island.  Along with whatever fish they can catch from shore, that is their food source.

We were happy to provide from our ships stores fishing line, lures, tackle and rod, clothing items, blankets and food.  One of the highlights for me was to take Joseph out on the reef and witness him using the shaft from an old weed whacker as a spear to fish…he shot 10 fish…remarkable.  Despite the pristine waters it was very disappointing to see the state of the reef which for all intense and purposes is dead…and their simply are no big fish.   

We hiked to the other side of the island cutting a path thru the overgrown jungle with a machete and evermore thankful by the end of the hike that we were only guests and had our nice soft bed to return to.

 Maria, Kaija and Terrie

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