Sunday, June 7, 2009

Zachary arrives tomorrow! and another Vanuatu experience

Our 8-year-old grandson Zachary arrives in Australia tomorrow! His flight arrives very early tomorrow morning and Bill is flying to Brisbane tonight to be on hand to meet him. We are very proud of Zachary for being brave enough to fly alone half-way around the world. His mom is flying with him from Houston to Los Angeles. Once he is on the plane for the flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane, then she will fly back to Houston. Bill will meet Zachary in Brisbane and they will fly together to Mackay where the boat is docked. Zachary will be sailing with us until mid-August as we make our way up to Cairns. Quite an adventure for an 8-year-old boy.

We haven't done anything since arriving in Australia other than a few boat chores. Bill replaced the accumulator tank on the pressurized water system. The original tank failed when we were in Panama and the only accumulator tank available for purchase in Panama was a cheap one not intended for marine use; it was from a patio and garden store. That cheap tank was rusting and Bill didn't think it would last much longer. So while we are in an area where he could find one, he replaced it. Still could not find a true marine accumulator tank but this one is much sturdier and hopefully will last longer than only one year like the last one did.

I forgot to mention earlier something that happened back in Vanuatu. The last afternoon that we were anchored in Port Resolution a young man paddled his outrigger out near our boat while I was reading in the cockpit. He just wanted to visit and practice speaking English with a stranger. It was very obvious that English was not his primary language and he struggled to say the words. I spoke very slowly and clearly, trying to make it earier for him to understand me. He asked me a series of questions; the standard things like: what is your name; where are you from; and how long have you been on your boat. He seemed to understand my answers. He even seemed to be familiar with Texas and knew there were cowboys there. Then he asked a question that natives don't normally ask: what did you do before you lived on this boat? And what did your husband do before you lived on this boat?

How could I answer that? To tell this man who lives in a dirt-floor grass hut in a jungle that I worked with computers would be meaningless to him. Telling him that I did accounting would also be meaningless. I decided to say computers; and, sure enough, he did not know what a computer was. How do I explain that??? He had no concept of either computers or accounting. To tell him that Bill was the CFO of a company would be absolutely meaningless to him and trying to explain all that with limited language would be impossible. So I said that Bill had worked in the furniture business. Well, what did that mean to this native man? He had no concept of furniture either. There is no furniture in any building in his village and he had never traveled outside his village.

That encounter really brought home to me how isolated and primitive the people living on this island are -- even in today's high-technology world.

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