10-7 Travel by Cargo Ship, Part 2

This is actually Vila harbour, but I did see 2 sunsets from the boat.

We got to the last port on Epi island around noon and the crew said anyone who wanted to go to shore could. I did. It was a good choice. On shore, I snuck into a bungalow bathroom and shower and used a clean, functioning toilet and rinsed of a layer of stink. Of course, I toweled myself dry with my shirt and put all my dirty clothes back on, but it was totally worth it. We stayed there for over two hours while the crew unloaded all five tons of cement by speedboat-fulls. Finally, we got back underway.

I sat and played 7-lock (a cross between crazy 8s and Uno) with a bunch of youngfala. When we got bored with that, we lazed around the foredeck and napped. We arrived in Craig Cove on Ambrym around dusk. The police were waiting for us.
Two of the young men, not the ones I’d been playing cards with, were suspected in the theft of 200,000 vatu from a helicopter company. That is roughly the equivalent of $2200 USD. The police took their testimony and we got underway. I’m still not clear if they were taken into custody or not, but it hardly mattered at that point. The whole ship was discussing whether or not they were guilty (the general consensus was that they were) and how long they would be in prison. I went to sleep on my chunk of bench.
At 3 am, we arrived in the first port on Pentecost. The crew decided they were tired and without telling anyone, they went to bed. We slept there until dawn. The next six ports couldn’t have passed more slowly. I about got off the ship in Waterfall and walked back to my village I was so desperate to get home but that would have meant carrying two heavy bags for an hour when, if I waited until Melsisi, I could jump in a truck.
We made it to Melsisi at about 10 am. Me and my bags got off the ship. One of my brothers who I’d never met was returning from Vila and bringing back enough things to start a store. In fact, he’d brought back so much stuff that it required more than one trip by the truck. Luckily, I got on the first trip.
I made it to Vansemakul at 11 am on Friday after more than 39 hours on the ship.
It was fun, in its way. I like chatting with people, though the same conversation over and over does get boring. I met a lot of lovely people. The people in Vanuatu are wonderfully friendly and welcoming. When I got tired of talking, I read a novel and a half or watched the islands slide by.
It would have been nothing but pleasant if I’d made it back to Pentecost in say, 24 hours. That extra overnight was just a little bit much, especially when I hadn’t used the bathroom in twelve hours.
I would be happy to take a cargo ship again, though not for the full run Vila. That was just too long. Maybe I’ll go to Santo over Christmas.

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