Places of the Heart

Simple happiness for me this week was finding a fully hinged colourful shell on a Vanuatu island beach.

It was perfectly different and as I gazed at its colour and markings I became aware that maybe there were many exactly or almost the same shells with these DNA marks. Distinctly beautiful and different to all the other shells around, it stood out. I picked it up and cradled it in my hand – to me it was precious.

The environment was rocky crags and underfoot solid rugged rocks and soft white sand, close-by the small gentle waves lapped my feet and in the distance a few hundred metres/yards the large thunderous waves of the pacific ocean with smaller islands close-by and also edging the skyline.

The distant waves seemed a surfers dream but in the low tide hours, the threat from the treacherous reefs and the remnants of shipwreck meant no surfers here today.

In my heart I’ll carry so many memories forever. The bright orange-red-ochre coloured starfish, ocean and land crabs smaller than your thumb-nail to the coconut crab larger than a cabbage with mean looking tweezers for ripping the coconut for food. I understand it is native to most of the Indo-pacific islands and is the largest living arthropod in the world today. Fortunate for my tender toes and delicate ‘surprise factor’, the coconut crab is a nocturnal creature which means, it hides during the day and forages at night. Which means when on these islands I’m home before dark.

The green, green of the native jungle is a forest of food and sustenance, coconut trees have a seventy-five year productive lifetime in these Melanesian Islands, abundance of banana, paw-paw/papaya, pineapples, yams, taro, turmeric, ginger, peanuts surrounded by a feast of sea-foods in the reefs and ocean waters.

There is noticeably few cats and an abundance of birds and butterflies of magnificent colours. The bird songs are a temperate epoch between the silent spaces of the jungle growth and the roar of the distant waves crashing over the reef.

For the lover of being, seeing, listening, savouring, learning simplicity, this is a bucket list must.

Outside the order of the city lights, we bounced along the potholes in the road, waved to the locals and responded to their hello in a most impromptu ceremonious way. We are guests in their land, their way and time, I live to learn and island time is my time, island way – I feel it in my DNA.