The last few days have been difficult as far as making films on small atolls goes. Our subjects have often been unavailable due to the ongoing funeral ceremonies and we have had equipment trouble as well. All on the same day we had problems with playback on the camera, a virus on our computers from a pen drive and our generator (which we use for topping up our power if its cloudy or we have put too big a load on the batteries) suddenly started jumping around with a clattering noise while white smoke poured from the alternator.
So work shifted to the Barbarian where a small office for Rose and George was set up to translate the video tapes while Briar and Rod shot the underwater sequences for the beginning and end of the film. For these sequences Briar roped in a young man called Dan and a canoe. The first days filming took place in the north west passage where the tides bring in clear water from the ocean. Here Rod filmed shots using the canoe. The second day involved filming diving shots off Queen Emma's Island (Kapeitu). I took the chance to go ashore with Endar and Barbarian's crew to take a look at the ruins of the old plantation house which was abandoned in the 1930's when the village moved to Nukutoa.
The concrete walls of the house and some kind of factory are slowly crumbling into the jungle in the interior of the island. Trees are growing on the walls and lumps of concrete cover the area where the floors once were. The roof and anything wooden have been eaten away long ago. The layout of the house is still there and you can easily see where the bay windows and the veranda once where.
After messing about looking at the house I went back out into the glaring sunlight of the beach where Endar taught me to catch crabs for bait. The method is this -
1. Find a crab hole in the beach.
2. Dig until you find a crab.
3. Grab your crab from behind.
4. Throw the crab with force upside down on the beach to stun and kill it.
My first crab went well but with my second I failed at step 3. I grabbed the frightened little animal from the front and it bit my finger hard with a pincer drawing blood. I then learned another trick. When bitten by a crab - bite back. Biting its pincer causes the shell to crack and the crab loses grip. Endar had the crabs for lunch. Barbarian's cook, Daisy, fried them with chilli.
Yesterday I went fishing. There was no filming going on to speak of (Briar did squeeze off a few shots though) so I went on a trip with Cio (whose family we stay with), Scott and Leonard (Barbarian's engineer) [Briar and Lyn weren't allowed to come, they are girls, they are unlucky and we couldn't even talk about it to them]. We zoomed out of the lagoon in an orange fiberglass canoe circling the small reefs on our way out to catch bait. We had dolphins surfing in our bow wave for a while and outside the lagoon huge whales could be seen in the distance rising and crashing back into the water.
The fishing technique was to zoom into flocks of seabirds feeding on the water while trailing as many fishing lines as possible. In this fashion we caught six large fish, two tuna and four rainbow runners. Most of these fish are destined for the big event - Monday's Dance Concert. A lot of the men are still out there tonight - fishing for the concert.
Today we were back to the usual routine. We filmed Satty and Endar this morning and sequences with the scientists in the afternoon.