The same breakfast, the same chef. Dave called by during the morning to drop off our camera which we’d accidentally left with him yesterday, and to tell us, in case we were interested, that a group of them were going out to the Taharai. However, we decided not to bother. Curious – when we left the camp-site, we both felt sad to be leaving an atmosphere that was so friendly + so much fun, but even after a couple of days that feeling has faded away + we now feel entirely at home aboard the ship. In any case, the camp-fire community is starting to break up. Russ flew home last night, + (shock horror) Tom moves on to NZ tonight. And at least from my point of view, Doug has entirely removed any fears that the trip could turn bad – he has been a perfect host. 2 of his friends called by at about 11, called (I think) Jim + Barbara. They were pleasant enough, tho’ naturally a lot of the talk was yachtie, which I find only marginally interesting. And both Doug + Jim revealed a disappointing prejudice against blacks, as a result of bad experience in black countries. Nonetheless, the beer flowed like water, with the result that we were all ready for a siesta by afternoon (tho’ for some reason Val + I didn’t take one.)
At about 3.30, we went in to shore. We had intended for Val to row the boat back, + then swim in again, but as it happened Doug awoke + took us in. The reason was that Manate + his wife had ridden by the camp-site, given Dave some fruit, + invited the 3 of us up for a meal this evening. A little bit of a chore for us in some ways, but Manate deserved some consideration for all his kindness. Besides, yesterday we had clubbed together to buy him a present, a dive knife, + wanted to give it to him. When we arrived at the camp-site, Dave had just got back from the beach, so we waited for him to get ready, then strolled up. Manate was pleased to see us, but it seems we’d missed some sort of trip up the mountain today – either he hadn’t made it clear, or Dave had misunderstood, or more likely a mixture of both. We sat + talked for ages – agonising it was actually, since we were all very hungry. Eventually, Manate roared off on his scooter, to fetch his wife + kid, + eventually they all returned, Manate + little Manate on one scooter, + Mapu, absolutely enormous in a pareo + bikini top, on another. And in next to no time, dinner was ready. I shall try to remember all the dishes: chicken + cabbage, pate, pressed meat, taro, a sort of dry miti tui (coconut sauce), lemon sauce, turtle flippers (I tell you no lie), a sort of banana pudding, pineapple, coffe, + donuts. Being, as I’ve said before, of a nervous disposition, food-wise, the only bits I enjoye4d without any reservation were the last 3. However, it was a magnificent spread, + I did make an effort to try everything. Val, of course, was far better, + braver, than me; Dave was about the same.
The evening went well. Manate Jr was cute, + they laughed a good deal at the funny stories we were able to tell (somehow I even fitted in the one about Mum’s Italian friend, + how she had to mime a chicken when first buying eggs because she couldn’t remember the word – they loved that one, + we spent some time solemnly exchanging addresses + phone nos. They were very insistent about the phone nos, but I do hope they don’t use them – they will spend a ,lot of money + confuse my mother dreadfully. Manate was pleased with his knife, I think – I wish we’d thought to get Mapu something as well. And just before we left we were very pleasantly surprised when they gave each of us a gift of a straw hat, plus a bag for Val. Then Mapu borrowed their neighbour’s car to drive us back. We showed them the “Thyme”, where they promised to visit us tomorrow at 11, + then they dropped us all off at the camp-site – we had some things to pick up, + wanted to say bye-bye to Tom. The usual big crowd there, a couple of new faces. Grabbed a few addresses, said a few farewells, + left. We were a bit late by now, of course, so I had to swim out to fetch the dinghy – to my surprise, I enjoyed the swim, the climbing up was a bit tricky. A better Sunday than usual.
A shame we managed to miss the trip with Manate, for his sake and ours. Dave and his appalling French mainly to blame, and he felt really bad about it, so we played it down for his sake. But delighted that we were able to partake of such a feast.
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