Monday, August 19, 2013


We were lucky to have good weather during our 3 days at Namena, but it was time to move on. Our next stop was Makongai, a small island with a terrific anchorage and a sad history. It had served as a leper colony for several decades, until the cure for Hansen's disease made it obsolete. Though the leper colony ruins and the government fisheries office are here, you still need to do sevusevu as if it were a traditional village. We presented our bundle of waka to one of the fisheries biologists, as the chief was off-island. One of the local schoolteachers, Emily, offered to show us around. You can still see several old buildings and a number of ruins here, including a jail. As our guide Emily put it: "some of the leprosy victims were very naughty!" Most moving to me was the overgrown graveyard, filled with not only Pacific Islanders but a number of Europeans who suffered from this rather ghastly disease. Nowadays Makongai is more important as a center of aquaculture and reef restoration. There are tanks full of giant clams at all stages of development, and a few sea turtles and other threatened species. These blue and green clams are only about a year or two old. We saw a number of larger clams underwater in the bay, some nearly a meter in diameter. There was no Internet or phone reception here, so to conduct some necessary business we had to scale a nearby hill. We were able to communicate via the cell towers on Wakaya and Ovalau, the latter of which is visible across the channel. Several other boats came in behind us. We enjoyed a picnic and happy hour with Eric and Marie, who have lived aboard their custom cold-molded cutter "Pollen" for nearly 20 years. After raising their son on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, they decided it was time to explore further.

1 comment:

Cindy Hall-Bogard said...

I am loving reading through your adventures. Am trying to not have "retirement envy" as I head back to the classroom. Come say hello when you get to town. Have been back from the far north for about two months and still trying to get use to all the people. Safe travels, Cindy