It’s been nearly three weeks since the fire, and we’re rapidly adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of life here on Pulau Dayan.
Our dining room has been re-purposed into a makeshift kitchen. After farewelling Nick and Sal, we had a hectic couple of days in Sorong buying more essentials, mostly kitchen equipment and a new fridge/freezer. We reckoned that we could run the generator for a few hours each morning and evening and that would keep things cold enough to store some essentials (beer, of course!). We also bought a new polystyrene esky (Garuda approved, no less) and two large bags of ice to transport the food during the boat trip. We transferred the ice to the fridge, and together with running it a few hours every day, our plan seems to be working pretty well – it’s keeping things reasonably chilled. And we’ve also adjusted our diet – less meat, more vegetables, fish, and rice – so we’re probably healthier too.
Thankfully, miraculously, our generator and fuel was saved from the fire. Otherwise, I think we’d be struggling to stay here without any power. As it is, we only have power when we run the generator for a few hours each morning and night, so we can charge our phones and electronic equipment, have internet, and use the running water in the shower and toilet. Outside these times, it’s back to the bucket and being incommunicado. Not so bad, really.
Thanks to everyone’s wonderful generosity, Bruce has already been able to order the new batteries and inverter/charger, so we’re hoping that in a couple more weeks when they arrive, we’ll have the new building finished to house them, and then we’ll be back to a permanent power supply. Luckily, our solar panels survived the fire, as they were safely up on the headland. We’ve also organised for an electrical expert familiar with ‘off-grid’ set-ups to come out to the island in a few weeks to provide some recommendations about our new plans. We want to make sure that it’s as storm/quake proof as it can possibly be.
The family have done a wonderful job of clearing the debris – a very nasty and dirty job indeed. All the rotting food from the incinerated fridge and freezer had to be dumped out at sea, and everything else that couldn’t be burnt has become landfill.
There was really very little to salvage – a few tools, the frame that housed the cursed and never-used watermaker, which can be cleaned up and re-painted to await the new, much friendlier version (Bruce reckons he can build a better one himself – watch this space!), and a couple of small bits of dive equipment.
The things we miss the most are, as always, the sentimental things – our wooden ‘bear claw’ salad servers that we bought in Canada on our honeymoon 27 years ago, all Bruce’s underwater footage, his Bunning’s hat (noooo!), and most frustratingly, the two containers of liquid fertiliser for the garden (aka liquid gold) that a lovely visitor from a cruising yacht recently donated to me.
Haja (Hans’s father), and Hans and his cousin, Fenchay, have been cutting wood most of this week, so we now have a growing pile of timber for the new buildings, and new corrugated roofing material from Sorong all ready for the battery house. It’s a happening thing, folks!
When we were in Waisai with Nick and Sally, we also bought them (and us) some inexpensive masks, fins, and snorkels so we could at least enjoy the water. We’re realising that our daily snorkel is essential therapy until we can replace our dive gear. We actually also found a secondhand dive compressor at the dive shop in Waisai, very similar to our old one and in pretty good nick, so we snapped it up. We only collected it yesterday, and had a few hours of angst when it wouldn’t reach high enough pressure, but after a bit of head-scratching and research, Bruce has managed to solve the problem and get it working properly. He’s a wizard, that man. Our dive tanks miraculously survived the fire (and have passed test), and a local ex-pat friend has offered to loan us a couple of BCD’s and regulators, so we may even be lucky enough to get under the water again soon.
So, all in all, we’re in pretty good shape. Apart from collecting our new batteries next week when we’re in Sorong, we’re also looking forward to receiving our care package from Rob – among other things, it contains a big bag of Toby’s Estate coffee beans, and – joy of joy – Vegemite. So we’re soon going to be happy little Vegemites for sure!
Oh, and there is some really, really, good news that I forgot to mention with all the drama of the fire: Hans and Deborah are now proud parents of a gorgeous, healthy baby boy born on New Year’s Eve.
Welcome to the world, little Martin. And what a great reminder of the most important things in life – love, health, family, and friends.