March 15, 2013

#Elato atoll, life update on #Downtime !

Chief Veronika, she was 100yo when I took this pics back in 2013
It is a beautiful morning on Woleai! We put anchor down today at 7:30am on 15th of March. Pete is having his nap and I decided to let you know what's going on Downtime...

Our last story was about Puluwat then our next stop was at a very traditional island Lamotrek with everyone topless, an alcohol drink "tuba", women skirts "lavalava" and many lamotrekese local strict rules! It was our first island in the Yap state, the most traditional state in all FSM and probably in all Pacific. We spent wonderful week there and I will publish Lamotrek story in one or two days, we are still having some disagreement about a few topics! Do you think it is easy to change Pete's opinion? Not really! I am just using my power like an editor.. he-he

After Lamotrek we stopped for 4 days (from 8th to 12th of March) in Elato Atoll just 10 miles west of Lamotrek. Elato, along with the island of Olimarao (20 miles away), is a part of double lagoon formed by shared seamount. Recently the atoll has become the center of quite a bit of foreign press as an example of things to come. The small, low lying atoll islands, as Elato are losing portions of its beaches to erosion and its to unusually high "king tides". So we are glad we took an opportunity to see it, when an atoll still existed! It was a great experience! It is a very casual island with 80-100 people, they consider themselves like one big family.

First day we visited a main high chief of the three islands (Lamotrek, Elato, Satawal) - Chief Veronika, she is 100 years old and living on Elato, she owned the best land in each of those three islands! We exchanged our gifts and now I've have one more lavalava in my collection, total of four!! (I know from other sailors, its sad news, but she passed away in 2014)

On our second day, one guy caught an octopus and gave it to us, we gave him shades and t-shirt. The dress code on Elato is not as strict as on Lamotrek and everyone is allowed to wear tops, but some people are still just in traditional clothes.
Later that afternoon they caught 2 huge turtles and butchered them right on the beech. They partially cooked them before and then divided the meat between the families. They gave us like 6 pounds of shoulder, heart, liver and some fat. They leave nothing to waste and eat everything inside! They even rinse out the intestines and catch the blood! I cooked up everything and heart tastes like cow tongue, liver is exactly like cow liver, but looks very black and meat is like beef, which I fried and it was a bit chewy...But next day I cooked turtle hamburgers from rest of the meat and it was delicious! And still tasty lake a beef!

On Sunday, after church, we went out with three guys to Ulor Island and they caught us 16 lobsters! While the men were busy hunting, I explored island and snorkeled on the reef.

When we got back on Downtime we gave them a bottle of Bounty rum, t-shirt and hat, shades, some fishing lour's and a spear gun.

On Monday we visited school and shared our travels with the kids about our adventures and also we took my laptop and showed them some pictures. We gave them some toys and candy, coloring books and crayons for the school. I also printed a collage of the best pics from the island and Pete laminated it.

Pete fixed the chiefs sail and a few other things for the islanders and I sorted and copied 300 movies and some educational programs for Stan, one of the chiefs.

Like on Lamotrek the tuba (alcohol drink from coconut tree) flows freely so it is kind of problem! These guys like to party and I think more then half had strong addictions!
It was fun to see how reacted Pete on drunk people, they were irritating him and got on his nerves, but every second day Pete has the same conditions of intoxication...

In the end I can tell you that Elato can offer sailors everything: beautiful and safe anchorage, really nice and friendly people, good snorkeling, "tuba" circles, spear fishing and other island joys. They only get a few boats per year and compared to Lamotrek's few per month! So if you have time this place is not to be missed!

Live your dream, Daria