Iri Village Visit

We finally made it. Ever since December in Honiara, we’ve been carrying some items for a man who lives in the Iri Village. Missionaries who we were introduced to via friends on SV Sweet Dreams had given us some things to deliver, even though we weren’t sure when we’d make it up here. Well, I’m sure they didn’t imagine it would take us 5 months!!

After delivering the package, we sat onshore surrounded by the very friendly community. One boy I noticed had a large wound on the back of his heel. I asked him what had happened. “Eelfish bite me.” Yikes. I wasn’t quite sure what an “eelfish” was - a blue-eyed river eel or one more like a moray eel that we’d seen poking out of the coral reefs - but based on the hunk of skin it had taken on either side of this kid’s Achilles tendon, it was a whopper. The flies were swarming all over the open gash, and I shuddered to think of the infection that could result.

At first, I looked away squeamishly and tried to convince myself that surely this boy had a mother who was looking after the wounds, but then I remembered that I had a small first aid kit in my backpack. I guessed that the few bandaids, antiseptic towelettes, and antibiotic ointment in my pack might be more than any of the mothers had available here, so I asked one of the ladies if I could help. Neither one of us really wanted to play the nurse role - it seems we were both squeamish about gaping wounds - but eventually it got cleaned and bandaged up. I handed the young boy a few spare bandaids to slip into his pocket for replacements, and tried to explain to him that he really needed to keep it covered from the flies. Mark even zoomed back to the boat to grab a roll of bandaging tape to add to the supplies.

Once our impromptu seaside clinic was over, we sat around and enjoyed talking with a lovely couple and a gaggle of giggling school kids. At one point I tried to inspire a sing-along, but the children were still a bit too shy. Maybe next time.

The following day we came ashore after schoolwork and were guided to the lake by a group of young girls. One of them carried a satchel made of a plastic burlap-like rice sack that seemed to attract thousands of flies. She reminded me of Pigpen from the Peanuts comics. Each time she’d move, the flies would swarm up and then resettle back around her bag, like the dust cloud around Pigpen. I just had to ask her, “What’s in your bag?” She opened it just enough for me to see a bottle with fishing line wound around it. Shyly she answered, “Fish.” Hmmm. The bag was small, so I assumed she was telling me that this was her fishing tackle bag. “So, you like to fish?” (smile and nod) “Do you catch many fish?” (smile and nod) “How many?” “Seven.” “Wow, seven already today? That’s great!” Of course, I imagined that the slime from the previously caught fish was what was causing the fly riot, but later I’d find out that she had all seven of her tiny catches actually piled up in the bottom of that little satchel! No wonder the flies liked her so much!

Turns out, she was a determined little angler. At the lake, she pulled out her fishing apparatus and demonstrated some of her skillful technique. When her friends spotted fish, she quickly ripped off a bit of gill from one of her bagged fish and baited the hook. She unwound the thin line from around the recycled tabasco bottle and cast it into the lake. Then, she’d patiently tug, tug, tug on the line to entice the fish that we could see from above. And sure enough, one quick jerk and she’d landed yet another tiny little fish and plopped it into her bag.

Later, a few of our young tour guides would join us on a dinghy ride up the river and then come on board for cookies and lemonade. I noticed a huge rain cloud coming our way. I quickly drove them home so they could stay dry. Within minutes of my return to the boat, the buckets of rain came down.

We hurried to close hatches and were about to head inside when we saw two canoes paddling over to us with the same 3 young kids sopping wet and obviously wanting more play time aboard, absolutely unfazed by the downpour. Well, we wouldn’t melt either, would we?! I grabbed some line to tie their canoes to our stern and a few cups for them to collect water off the boom and lines, just for fun. When the rain stopped, those same cups became the object of a new game and were hidden around the deck for the kids to find. Nothing fancy, but a whole lot of fun.


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