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Written on: Wednesday August 27th, 2008

Imagine living in a small house. The livable space is roughly 10'x15'. You have your own bed and a cupboard which must hold everything you own. Imagine not being able to leave this house for ten straight days. You are in the same spot, doing the same thing, day after day after day. There is no telephone, no TV, no shower, no refridgerator. You can read, sleep or eat, but the food is the same food every day. And as Jesse put it, when you're on the toilet, you can reach out your hands and touch somebody. Now imagine that the house continually shakes from side to side, with the occasional forward slam that almost knocks you out of bed, and certainly topples you if you happen to be standing. And to top it off, imagine that you have five other roommates living with you, one of which is 6 month old baby with very healthy lungs and another is a highly energetic four year old. This is the environment in which I lived during the crossing from Tonga to Vanuatu.

It wasn't all bad, mind you; just challening. There was a day or two in which the wind was calm and we could exit the cabin and head on to the deck. It was such a relief to breath fresh air and feel the sun on my face. There was a day that I learned a few chords on the guitar...that was fun...and the day I made a necklace of shells gathered from the beach. There was the day that the winds picked up to 25 knots, and we had to change sails...at 3:00am, in the rain. That was exciting, and something I'll never forget. But most of the time we just slept and read, hoping to drift off until dinner time, when we all actually gathered and communicated a bit.

The mood really picked up as we neared Vanuatu. Everybody was a bit giddy, as we checked the charts and realized that tomorrow, we would finally see land. Alas it was spotted: the island of Tanna. We chose this island as there is an active volcano on it, and we were not dissappointed to see smoke bellowing out of the culdera as we sailed closer still. Our arrival time was about midnight, which meant that we had to heave-to until day break. During this time, we had watches to ensure that we wouldn't hit other vessels or islands. My watch was from 2:30-5:00am. After rubbing the slumber from my eyes, I looked into the darkness and saw an explosion of orange in the distance. Lava. It had to be. But it quickly faded and I was left wondering if it was a figment of my imagination, or it was really there. Waiting for a few minutes, I saw it again, and realized that we were about to witness something truly spectacular.

We sailed into Port Resolution after daybreak and dropped the anchor. As you might imagine, we were eager to get off the boat. Frans went for a surf, and Jesse and I headed to shore to explore. The local "yacht club" was nothing like you would imagine. A homemade shelter comprised of columns and a roof was it. But they had soda...cold, orange, generic, tasty, I'll-buy-it-for-three-dollars-a-can soda! Oh my god was that good.

That night we joined a group of other yachties to head to the volcano. It truly was a powerful experience. We could hike right to the edge of the canyon, and look down, directly into the core of the volcano. It would rumble and a burst of lava would be spewn into the air, making us all instictively jump back a step. We stayed until darkess and simply viewed in awe. I hope that some of the videos I took will give you an idea of what we saw. It was phenominal.


From Liz on Sep 4th, 2008

I love you pumpkin and miss you tremendously.