In the last week we have had a mini drought, three earthquakes, a tsunami warning, a cold snap, a land slide and some stunning sunsets.
The water supply for some villages is getting desperately low. The well where we source our water from is down to about 30cm (when full it is about 3m deep). We were fortunate to get a recent sprinkle of rain but it wasn’t enough to fill up the water tanks. The water source for the North of Ambrym comes from a natural spring high up in the mountains but the spring has either dried up or there is a leak in the pipe some where. Either way, we are down to having a small bucket shower every three days, getting some local mammas to do our hand washing (using a small spring near the sea), flushing the toilet once a day and being very conservative with our drinking and cooking water. We really are Waterwatchers now!!
We have also had a series of earthquakes recently with a big one happening on Tuesday morning (7.0 on the richter scale). The big quake went for about 30 seconds shaking the whole house from side to side. Around 3 or 4 hours later an old man and a blind man came ambling up the hill with all their possessions (rice, clothes, pots, etc) as a tsunami warning had just come in from a nearby village (50 min walk away). We had a bit of chuckle with Nurse Rose’s family about the sudden exodus from the village (especially given that a tsunami would have hit at the very most 1 hour after the earthquake) but thought we should use the teleradio to get the straight story. Sure enough we heard that the tsunami warning had been cancelled and if a tsunami had of come, it would have happened soon after the earthquake (ie hours before people started evacuating from their houses!). We rushed down to tell our ‘family’ the news of the cancelled warning and found they were moving their last load of possessions up high into the mountains. They had already moved all their pots, clothes, pictures, photos, suit cases, etc and were about to move their mattresses to sleep in the bush for the night. They all had a good laugh when they realised they had moved all their stuff up the hill for no reason.
That night there were a few more smaller earthquakes. We awoke to a huge crashing sound and thought a tree had fallen close to our bungalow. We couldn’t see anything nearby but in the morning found that about 50 m from our bungalow a whole hill side had collapsed, taking a number of trees with it!
Yesterday was cold! I know we shouldn’t complain – it wouldn’t even have been close to Melbourne or Adelaide weather but we had our full winter woolies on and slept under our sleeping bag and blanket.
As a final gift, mother nature gave us probably the best sunset we have seen yet!