Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
October 12, 2015
Small Island, Deep Roots
13° 17.14’S x 176° 10.13’W
Docked at Mata’utu, Wallis
Overcast and 25 kt winds from the southeast in the morning; light winds and clear skies by night
As was the case with Samoa, Wallis has been unexpectedly bursting with places to see, people to talk to, and daily lifestyles to witness. Wallis, or Uvea, is a French overseas territory of only about 9,000 people, and it’s been largely excluded from the world of online information. When I first explored the capital town of Mata’utu on Saturday afternoon and found the streets to be mostly deserted, aside from the occasional car passing by, I couldn’t believe that the country’s capital might be as empty as its Wikipedia page. It turns out that I just wasn’t looking hard enough.
Last night, I had the pleasure of joining Coleman, Amanda, Kelvin and Sharthak at the house of a local woman named Tickey (pronounced Tiki). We were all invited that night to a post-celebration of a First Communion held earlier that day (which we attended that morning when we went to the 7 am mass at the church). We entered their outdoor living room, garbed in our bright yellow foulies, and were immediately seated at the dinner table. Next thing we knew, there was a full meal of chicken, sausages, potatoes, white rice, and taro placed in front of us, and we were now special guests at a Wallisian house party. After getting over the sheer astonishment that this was actually happening, we joined in the festivities: we sang, got a tour of the house, and danced with Tickey and her extended family. I even threw in a couple of swing dancing moves from my school’s swing dancing club! Their rousing cheers of “manuia” gave us the sense that, for that one night, we were really a part of their family. (Manuia is Wallisian for blessing – the equivalent of a “cheers” at the end of a toast.)
After the celebration, we were invited back to Tickey’s house for coffee, where we got to meet her husband from France. Their kitchen and dining room walls were lined with handmade crafts and traditional Wallisian objects and clothing. By far the biggest surprise of the night came when Tickey took down some of these decorations from her wall and gifted them to us to take home. We politely insisted that she keep her carefully handmade creations, but she wouldn’t be satisfied until we agreed to take them. My bunk now smells of fresh flowers from the lei I received at the house party, and sitting on top of it is a belt made from coconut fibers and shells, straight from Tickey’s living room wall.
Unfortunately, our short but eventful stay in Wallis is coming to an end; tomorrow morning we set sail for Fiji. Just as with Samoa, I’m sad to see it go, but I can’t wait to see what lies ahead in Suva, as well as the next six days of sailing to get there. Every day has truly been its own adventure, and the next one starts tomorrow.
P.S. Happy FIRST anniversary to Jenn and Kevin!!! To you and to the rest of the family, I love and miss you guys and I can’t wait to tell you more about these wild six weeks. There’s so much more to say that I couldn’t fit in this one blog post. Another special shoutout goes to Mr. Sa’aga in Apia, Samoa! I hope you’ve been rocking out to Boston and making progress on the fiber cable project, and if you’re reading this, I’ll contact you soon!