We left Wallis in the afternoon and headed for the other island of Wallis and Futuna: Futuna! We arrived at Dawn’s crack the next day and, after a bit of fancy manoeuvring (tug boats are for wimps!) we shimmied up against the quayside and gently pressed ourselves again the wooden wharf. Futuna looked great: with high rocky peaks covered in lush greenery thrusting up into the interior of the island, it’s the closest thing to Jurassic Park I’ve ever seen. Well, without the dinosaurs, obviously.
The Southern Pearl is the only supply ship to come to this island, so you might expect dancing girls, garlands, a barbecue or something, but no, our presence was met with the same blissful indifference that I’ve come to expect from France and her colonies.
After the rain stopped, I set out from the dock for a mooch into the steamy interior. If Wallis could be adequately described as ‘dead’, the best description I can think of for Futuna would be ‘like a zombie/mummy/vampire that was dead but then came back from the dead but was then killed again by the hero, ie. double dead’.
To do anything on the island requires readies in the form of French Pacific Francs, but the ‘occasional’ bank wasn’t open today, so no matter what nationalities were being represented in my wallet, none could muster even the measliest form of purchasing power. This meant I could only walk as far as my bottled water from the ship could get me, which since I’m about as fit as Jabba The Hutt these days is a few kilometres at best.
Next to the island’s post office was the biggest goddamn satellite dish I’ve seen this side of Jodrell Bank. I assume that this would be a good place for ET to phone home. But with phone calls costing 1000 Francs per 25 minutes and my general lack of Pacific Francage, I would have to wait a few more days before hearing the dulcet tones of my beloved once again. So I kept walking. I met no fellow wayfarers along the way.
I passed a rather bizarre church that looked like something from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and I learnt a little bit about Pierre Chanel, the patron saint of Oceania. Monsieur Chanel came to Futuna to spread the word of Jesus Christ back in the 1800s. The locals, being cannibals, loved the bit about eating Jesus’s body and drinking his magic blood (which – unlike real blood – gets you pissed! Result!). Unfortunately for Monsieur Chanel, the locals, being cannibals, promptly ate Monsieur Chanel. Did I mention they were cannibals? Anyway, Monsieur Chanel was perceived to have performed some miracle or other (a trick more tricky to pull off in these days of video phones and not everyone being a credulous moron) and was promptly made a saint. Another missionary was eaten two years earlier, but he was a protestant and so therefore doesn’t count. A-ha! In your face, Martin Luther. Or should I say, Martin Loooooser!
The road (there’s only one) runs all the way around the island, but like the cast of Lost, I really couldn’t be arsed walking all the way around the island, not without money to secure me a ride back to the dock. So after a goodly constitutional, I returned to the ship forthwith in order to shelter from the afternoon rains. I considered climbing to the top of Futuna’s highest mountain, but decided against it when I saw the name. Yes, a contender for the most unfortunately-named geographic entity on the planet, it’s called Mt. Puke.
So Futuna, I guess I’ll never see you again, but it was nonetheless nice to meet you just this once. I now totally know where to hide my secret volcano base, far away from the beady eyes of British Intelligence. We left the port that night, heading back towards Tuvalu to pick up our erstwhile containers. As with most (if not all) of the islands we’ll be visiting on the mighty Southern Pearl, it’s too dangerous to attempt to enter the lagoooooon at night, so on Friday afternoon the captain cut the engines we floated on top of a shallow for a few hours to kill some time. The crew, keen as mustard, threw their fishing hooks overboard and the fishing competition was ON!
The red snappers were coming thick and fast, a few big old mackerel and possibly a tuna or two. By the end of the afternoon, the crew had caught enough for their Christmas dinners as well as din-dins for us all on board tonight. See my fishy friends? That’s what you get for not evolving opposable thumbs. Or legs. Do we rock or do we rock? I say we rock. What’s more, we’ll be back in Tuvalu by two past two tomorrow for round two, too. Can’t wait.