This morning Jim got an email from her that she was coming home. Coming home to Also Island is not so simple a matter. Although there is a road to Lagi Bay, it is currently closed, and the Lady K had completed her weekly trip the night before. For Kyoko to get home she would have to be driven partway and Jim would then need to pick her up by boat. He called and asked it we'd like to go along for the ride.
We went by way of the Also V, a 22-foot runabout Jim built himself with a 40 horse outboard. With just the three of us our trip to the rendezvous point -- down the coast and then about ten miles up the Nasavu river – was fast and exhilarating, skimming over colorful shoals thanks the high tide. The river mouth yawed wide, with clumps of dead bamboo stalled on shoals looking like ghost skiffs at anchor. The run upriver was stunning, making us recall our trip to Angel Falls, although this ride faster and smoother. Mostly the river was broad and deep starting amongst mangroves and then twisting and turning its way into steep hills and rocky cliffs sheathed in mixed forest, with anything from bamboo to pine, and only a very few houses. At last we reached a village, and tying up beneath a tall trestle bridge, we climbed a footpath to a makeshift bus shelter alongside the dirt road.
We were grateful for the shade. Only two cars passed in the half hour we waited before Kyoko finally arrived, driven by Rizwan and Nazareen, the Indian couple who had been taking care of her, along with their two boys, groceries, Kyoko's bags and a 50 gallon drum of gasoline! We collected the boat and moved downriver to a landing and Rizwan backed his truck down to the water. With Don holding the boat wedged against the land with a pole, Jim and Rizwan executed the precarious transfer of the drum from the truck to the boat along the boat's bench turned into a ramp. Then we loaded everything and everyone else into the boat for the return trip.
About this time Jim may have regretting inviting us along! Between the load and the falling tide it was a much slower trip home.
Meanwhile, the trimaran Sequester was approaching the same pass we'd come in the day before. Don and I only knew of Sequester from Jim's radio net, which, covering such a large area, is in constant need of relays, and Ted's resonant radio voice and his excellent signal make him a reliable regular. But Ted and his wife Karen are old friends of Jim and Kyoko's's having spent time on the island in its early days. However, that time they'd flown in, and this was their first approach by boat, having recently sailed up after five years in New Zealand. Navigating with only paper charts and a handheld GPS and not with the handy-dandy electronic chartplotter we rely on, Ted and Karen were justly anxious about the complicated reef approach. They were especially anxious because several days ago they'd grounded on an unseen reef on which they'd been stranded a whole day until the next high tide floated them off. So, despite the packed boat, Jim diverted out to rendezvous with them and, making a flyby pass to the under-sail boat, deposited Don aboard to help guide them in. I'm not sure Don was happy with this assignment, but he did manage to get them in safely. All in all, it added up to a pretty long day for everyone!
Sunday morning there was some discussion of church, but with the crowd Jim opted instead to produce a pancake breakfast for all on the "deck of knowledge and responsibility," the social spot on Also Island. By the time we got ashore after the net with our contribution – a pitcher of smoothies a la Palmlea (papaya, banana and passionfruit), Kyoko and Nazareen had been cleaning for hours, the traditional homecoming ministrations of women in any culture. Over breakfast, we all got to know one another a little better. The two boys, Leon and Salman , must have thought they'd died and gone to heaven to be deposited in this island playground, bonding pretty quickly with Jale.
Since school loomed Monday morning for the boys, after breakfast Jim loaded Rizwan and family back in to the Also V for the run back to their truck. This time Ted and Karen went for the river ride, and we stayed and chatted with Kyoko, learning her family history and her take on their operation here at Also Island. Ethnically Japanese, Kyoko was actually born in China where her father was stationed at her birth, but ended up spending most of her life in California, where she worked as a graphic artist. A self-described fishing fool, she met Jim when he had his boat in Marina del Rey.
Although Kyoko had some misgivings about coming back to the island after the stroke, she seems to us to be doing markedly better than even yesterday. She still moves around pretty carefully, often with a cane, but her speech is clear and wit unclouded. Since she had much the same incident that my father suffered in the 80s (subdural bleeding), it is quite impressive. None of the aphasia that he suffered.
In the evening we hosted Ted and Karen and Jim and Jale to dinner on Tackless II (Kyoko begged off at the last minute), serving a Thai fish curry (to use the fish some villagers had given us for a pint of gasoline) and beef with honey and black pepper sauce (to use some stirfry beef I had thawed.) It was the first time in a long time I'd tried to cook two meals at one time, but it came off just fine.
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