After a second morning of watching the tuna fishing on the beach we were ready to move on. William, Damian and myself boarded Emanuel's canoe along with Philip and another Tumari wontok. Emanuel wanted to take us along the coast and then into Iba Bay, one of the smaller fjords.
It was a wonderful day and from the sea Tumari village is a beautiful sight, with the palm fronds above the houses lining the long beach, and the mountain silhouettes in the back. Again I accepted my role as a passenger just enjoying the coastal views. We passed several long beaches - white sand now - with only a few settlements to be seen. After an hour and a half we rounded the point of Iba Bay where the small hamlet of Kinaru sits on its own little white beach illuminated by the turquoise coral waters around. What a gem! It is also the home of one of Emanuel's sons, but nobody was home, so we didn't stop.
There is no one living in this fjord, so going in here meant being surrounded by stillness and quiet - only the sound of our paddles and the occasional bird. At the end of the fjord it gradually and unnoticeably transforms into a mangrove lined river, and after a while the water gets shallower and we stop. We put all our belongings on a small clearing before continuing up the little creek.
We came to some cliffs where the creek formed a small pond with the walls steep on both sides, and this is what Emanuel wanted to show us. He had told us about this cave by a waterfall, a fall we could hear around the corner behind the pond. We had to swim across (so I couldn't bring my camera) and then climb a few rocks in the back. Here we were surrounded by cliffs, with the white water coming over the rim and disappearing into a cave on the side. Above us the sky appeared like a blue circle with some green branches reaching in, and with 20-30 flying foxes hovering around for a few minutes before leaving us to ourselves. They had come out of a small crack in the wall just above the main opening where the falls entered the cave. What an absolutely fascinating place!
Back in the clearing we had some lunch, and then we said goodbye to our Tumari escort. The three of us now had an hour and a half's walk through the forest and over the ridge to Kwafurina Bay. Just a short stroll it seemed, after the long hike the other day. On the top of the ridge a nice look-out point gave us a pretty view of the end of the Kwafurina fjord - we were more or less on top of a high cliff.
Just by a small point in the middle of the bay is Smith's Island, and this is where we were headed. Coming down the path, we were met by a canoe captained by Smith's sister. She took us over to the island, and here we were welcomed with music! Four of the men from the area had put on their traditional costumes and were singing along with the beat from the kundu drums. The costumes with tapa cloth, shells, grass, and the fantastic headdresses are both beautiful and spectacular. All the different coloured feathers from lories and parrots, and the Raggiana flank plumes, make the headdresses particularly fascinating - all with their individual designs. The similarity to the ones worn by the American plains Indians is also striking.
This very honourable welcome might partly be because I was the first visitor in quite a while. Like most people around the area, Smith and his Kwafurina relatives
relatives believe in tourism as a future source of income, and the extension of the airstrip at Tufi has added to this optimism. Here at the small island, Smith is about to put the finishing touches to a new two-story guesthouse. The new bedroom has a stunning view of the fjord entrence!
The day was rounded off with a final tuna dinner - we had brought a few fish along from Tumari. Our dancers then returned to their villages on the mainland, and then again the quiet night and the millions of stars took charge, and we went to rest.
Kwafurina is a spread out village, and on the last day of our trip we would start from one of the settlements, Smith's Island, and pass two of the others. We would miss the main village. Along with one of the local young men we got on to a canoe in the morning, and made our way into the end of the fjord - the same kind of transition here as yesterday, with the bay turning into a river or creek. Then just a short walk from where we stopped up to Caxton's hamlet, which is right by the creek, surrounded by the rainforest covered sides of the valley.
Caxton is the most important of the sub-clan leaders in the Yari-yari clan, William explained to me. We had a short, friendly chat with him and his brother before moving on. Just behind the hamlet we passed the 'kokomo tree': a huge tree where hundreds of hornbills spend the nights. They fly in after sunset and leave again just before sunrise, so we didn't see any at this hour. There was a cockatoo on the trunk as we passed.
William, Damian and I were now accompanied by two of the local boys. From the creek we got on to a steep path that soon meandered above the canopy on a grassy ridge. The area around Kwafurina is dominated by grasslands. We soon saw signs of what was to be the main event here today: the big pig hunt. Men from several villages would get together, and by burning the grass corner the wild pigs (hopefully) and then the men would be waiting with spears and dogs. This would take place out towards the point, not in the direction we were going, but when we reached the next hamlet we met many of the hunters.
William's wife is from Kwafurina, so here we needed to take a longer break to chat with her family. While we were sitting outside the houses, more and more men with spears arrived. Some of the spears had a sharp, pointed, spike-like tip, while others had ends more like the blade of a knife. Everybody was excited about the hunt.
From here our path took us further up the grassy ridge and soon back into the forest. We walked down and up and down and up for three hours, putting in a nice little break by one of the creeks. After a last stretch through the forest we arrived at Kikita. High above the fjords the Kikita hamlets have a fantastic view of the Tufi coastline, and from here the path is back on grassy ridges as it gently slopes down towards the point. On our way down we passed villages and hamlets that come like pearls on a string along our way. Coming down to Sefoa - this is where the main church in the Tufi area is - and Kodje we met many friends and wontoks, also people that I know. The circle would soon be completed, but we needed to cross Maclaren Bay, and in Kodje Jesaiah said he would take us across himself.
We could have gone back to Tufi and the Resort, but we agreed it was better to end our walk in Kofure village instead - this is where William lives. We got there just after dark and spent the next few hours on the verandas chatting away. So much to talk about. So many impressions and experiences over these last days - so many wonderful people, and so many memories to keep. A fantastic trip had come to an end.