Like a scene from The Deer Hunter…well, without the revolver or Christopher Walken and the white headband, we sat tailor seat in a circle around the only source of light for what seemed like forever. We had tied an LED torch to a wire hanging down from a ceiling crossbeam which moved with every breath of breeze, playing its unearthly light on our faces and our friends from Rehua, the Mayor, the irrepressible Lucy and a constantly revolving cast of characters.
We gathered here during a brief break in the rain after picking our way in our dinghies through the profound darkness, around and through the reef protecting the village of Namara. Dark really doesn’t do this level of blackness justice. Earlier we’d seen solar panels stacked in the back of the community center but it seems they lack mounting hardware, batteries, wire, and probably things they haven’t even discovered yet. So for now, when the sun goes down it’s lights out.
We were invited to watch the men pound the kava root into powder but as we stumbled towards the kava pounding place closely following the person immediately in front of us, we met the men with the kava bowl heading back to the kava drinking place. Back we stumbled. Much mumbling, and what can only be called squishing of an old sock in a plastic bowl filled with what I hoped was clean water and pounded kava inside the sock. Clapping ensued and once again Yours Truly was served first which I guess makes me chief for a day, but no toaster as a prize. One clap to accept and three after with a little numbness as a parting gift.
Between rounds, I asked Lucy if there was a path up to the top of the rocky monoliths that surround this beautiful bay. Her eyes lit up and she said she could be our guide but you have to start from the other side of the island, across from Phantom Rock. Plans were hatched while we stumbled back to the beach and launched our dinks.
The following morning had other ideas with blustery overcast weather. Just as we were about to abort, Seathan from Rehua pulled up and said, “let’s go for it.” That’s all we needed and soon we were blasting along the reef strewn coast, not something Marce’s back tolerates very well, 4 miles around Wayasewa point into Phantom bay where we eventually found the Wayalailai Resort where Lucy said the hike up to the summit started.
It was a beautiful, locally-owned resort but once again everyone wanted to be our guide. We started to climb and in my humble but deadly accurate opinion I found it tough but doable. Locals said it would take an hour to summit and 45 minutes to come back down. I applied the Kiwi conversion factor and found the elapsed time should be more like 3 hours.
With renewed enthusiasm we five gave chase and struggled up the rest of the climb. Lucy had told us that her ancestral home village was high up on the mountain so they could see any raiders coming during cannibal times.
It was simply too dangerous to live at the beach so they would fish and harvest at the beach and then head up to their village where they could keep a good look out. Near the top we came upon a grassy plateau with massive boulders strewn about and this scarred concave table like rock with notches carved all the way to the top of an adjacent palm tree.
Sacred ground I’d say. A profound hush came over us thrill seekers when we put it all together with what Lucy had said earlier.
On the way back our sea weary legs started to shake in protest but we made it back down while the bemused staff snickered at our 3 hour plus time. After a restorative lunch it was back in the dinks for a good bash around the corner to Escape Velocity.
So, dear Escapees, just getting there was adventure enough but finding the remnants of the ancient high plateau village and then the 360 degree view of the Yasawas group made it more like three adventures in one day. More than enough for Yours Truly.