Our unusual existence in Fulaga continues with a new and predominantly entertaining experience unfolding each day. Yesterday it was a visit to the 'Pick and Pay', a sort of bring & buy sale in the school where some wonderful food was to be bought and where we donated a few small items such as playing cards, bags and caps, to be sold towards village funds. After that it was an energetic scrabble up some rocky cliffs to an incredible set of caves, probably inhabited at some stage and now home only to a very noisy and upset seabird chick about the size of a partridge. Finally the day was rounded off with Graham making a presentation to about 25 of the 'Youth Group'.
Membership of the Youth Group seems to be pretty flexible and, although there's a theoretical upper age limit of 35, we had one chap of about 60 listening intently. Bis (the chap who met Joanna at university in Suva, as you'll remember) had asked for a talk about working as a team and making changes so Graham put together a PowerPoint presentation referencing his experience of working in factories and he tried (reasonably successfully we think) to relate them to the organisation that is Fuluga island. The Youth Group are keen to be seen to be making changes and progress in a very traditional and hierarchical community but they have some challenges to overcome –including the fact that many people here don't really want things to change all that much (and we have to say that we can sympathise with their point of view). However, things do need to move on, particularly in the areas of diet and healthcare, and the Youth Group are trying to make change happen. Overall it was a very successful evening, though it was the first time Graham has had to pause, mid-sentence, during a presentation to receive a cup of kava!
The formalities completed, the meeting turned into an excuse for some singing and dancing – Georgie, a British girl from the yacht Oyaragh, is on a one-woman mission to teach the choreography of the Kate Bush classic 'Wuthering Heights' to everyone she meets (and why not?) so we had a lash at that after completing the 'Fulugan canoe dance'. Calumn, the young skipper of Oyaragh, provided a spectacular finale with a fire dance.
Today we saw two completely opposing things that really illustrated why this is such an intriguing place for us to visit. First of all, Meli came hoisted the sail on his dugout outrigger canoe to go fishing in the lagoon; the design hasn't changed in centuries (we learnt that from Dau, the head-teacher, when she explained the significance of the canoe dance last night) but we noticed some ex-Maunie halyards holding the mast in place. We'll post some photos and videos soon.
Secondly, and less pleasantly, we have, it seems, caught a nasty little, 21st Century virus from, of all people Batai the nurse. He'd asked if we could print some documents for him (follow-up letters to parents of kids who'd measured up as being underweight or overweight in the recent health check); the only printer, in the school, had run out of ink. Of course it ended up as being a more complex process but we did it, only to discover that the memory-stick he'd borrowed from one of the teachers had a Trojan virus on it. He thought his anti-virus programme had sorted it (once he was shown how to operate it by Adam from Bravo) but the virus is obviously newer than his software. Our main laptop also has somewhat out-of date antivirus (we normally don't connect it to the internet or share data) but our little notebook, used for writing blogs and other internet stuff, has a bang up to date tool which spotted it as soon as we tried to transfer a photo across from its bigger brother.
Luckily the virus doesn't seem to be affecting the operation of the big laptop but we can't clean it until we get back to somewhere (like New Zealand, probably, to be really safe) to sort it without risking the loss of precious photos and videos. Thankfully we backed it up to a hard drive a couple of weeks ago but the episode neatly illustrated the problem that new technology, and visiting boats, can bring to a place like this. Without internet here, there's no way to update anti-virus databases on the island's four or five computers and, of course, locals and yachties alike have been enthusiastically swapping memory sticks with photos and videos. So now, presumably, all the pc's are infected with at least one computer virus and the question is, how do you clean them? Answers on a postcard (or virus-checked email) please.