What a day for riding yesterday. On the one hand it was beautiful. On the other it was damnably hot! I can almost say it was a cut off the nose to spite the face day. I really would have enjoyed (if not preferred) the comfort of aircon on my ride to see the specialist in Albany. But I was not going by car under any circumstances. I was pretty hot and sweaty when I arrived. They tell me 40 degrees or more were expected in Katanning. I am sure that was exceeded when the sun was at its height. It was still 36 when I came home at 6.30 pm last night and had only dropped to 34 when I checked again at 8.30 pm. I don’t know how hot it got along the route to Albany, but I can tell you I was riding through some pockets that must have been well and truly over 50 degrees as the sun heated the road and the air above it. It was like riding through a furnace door. The aluminium bottle in my chrome cup holder heated up so much it was almost too hot to hold and the water in it tasted as if I could have made tea from it. Fortunately I had two large frozen bottles in an insulated bag in my saddlebag and they pretty much remained cool until I finished them off on the way home. Very important to carry water in this country. It is so easy to get dehydrated.
That useless Strike GPS played up all the way. The screen flashed on and off for a while then settled down to a blank white. If I hit it, the screen flashed up again for a moment then vanished once more. I wondered if it was affected by the heat. Luckily I knew where to go. I had checked out the route to the specialist on Google Earth, and we had passed it when we went to the beach a couple of weeks ago.
Handy Hint: If you are thinking of buying a GPS for your bike do not buy a Strike. I have already returned one for a replacement, and it looks as if I may have to again.
I did not learn much at the specialist. Dr Hutchinson asked a load of questions and made a few notes. He arranged for some further tests, and ordered a further consultation in April.
He suggested that I should consider myself diabetic, and take appropriate dietary steps, because even if I am not, it would be beneficial but if I am in fact marginal, as some tests have indicated, then in fact I am already diabetic. Studies have apparently shown that the damage that diabetes does is already occurring in people classified as “marginal” or borderline diabetic just as much as it is in those diagnosed as having full blown diabetes. Which, if so, begs the question why have they (I) not actually been diagnosed?
He assessed me and my lifestyle in a completely non judgemental way, and the good news I deduce from his summing up is that I am in no immediate danger, as he offered no other advice than already mentioned, and to change the time I take my medication back to evening.
The really important news is that the froglet is still kicking in the pond, and the few glimpses of her I have seen make me believe she is a Motorbike Frog. It is pretty hard to be sure because juveniles can display different colouration and patterning, but if she is, then the bad news is that it means that Eric, Gollum and Fluffy are indeed cannibals.
28 Dec 1929:
As the location of the first Solomon Islands gold field, fresh interest will be aroused in New Georgia, its people and customs. It is not,perhaps, easy for Australians to realise that this fine island, lying but a few days’ steam from our coast, was discovered and named only 76 years after Christopher Columbus had claimed the New World for Spain. Unlike its sister island of Ysabel and others of the Solomon Group, New Georgia has lost its Spanish name, for apparently it was piously christened San Nicolas by its discoverer, the daring old navigator Alvaro de Mendana.
That versatile missionary-explorer, the late Rev. Geo. Brown, D.D., F.R.G.S., has de- scribed the New Georgia and Roviana natives as the “Vikings of the Western Pacific,” and much has been written of the fierce head-hunting raids carried out in their “tomoko,”
the great swift war-canoes, of which we in Sydney have such a fine specimen in the Aus-tralian Museum.
To anthropologists and others interested in the study of native races, New Georgia offers a rich and almost untouched field for research.One curious if ghastly custom was a sacrificial rite known as “Veala.” When the death of a certain high chief called for a human sacrifice, a young boy, or more rarely girl,was obtained from the adjacent island of Ysabel, known to the New Georgia and Roviana people as Sabana. Occasionally the victim or “veala” was captured in the course of a raid, or might be purchased specially for the occasion with the native currency of shell rings, etc. It is curious to note that the New Georgia people, who pride them-selves on their intense black hue, always insisted on the “veala” being a light-skinned child. Many are found on Ysabel, possibly indicating a Polynesian strain. The intended but unsuspecting victim was well treated and fed with special care on native puddings,spinach, and other choice foods. Ignorant of the language of the place (for as in many Pacific groups each island has a distinct dialect), and so unable to learn casually ofits impending fate, the little stranger was allowed a certain amount of liberty, even being permitted, so one informant told me, to mix with the children of the village, and to join in their games. Intercourse with the women folk, however, was strictly forbidden.Occasionally it has happened that a “veala,”becoming alarmed, or possibly forewarned, has managed just at the last moment to escape to the protection of some woman of rank, who has afforded it sanctuary. During a residence of some years amongst the people of New Georgia, the writer has frequently met and talked with two escaped “veala” who many years ago cheated the sacrificial altar in the manner just described. They both grew up in New Georgia, and later married into the tribes of their would-be immolators.
Accounts of the actual sacrificial rites vary somewhat, and gruesome though this story may seem, many of the more horrible details cannot be told. The date or time of sacrifice was always determined by the local diviners or sorcerers. The victim was not killed off-hand once the appointed day arrived but was first taken by a band of men in a “tomoko”to a selected spot, where the men divided into two parties, and the unfortunate “veala” was then bandied about and thrown from side to side until exhausted and faint. Lime was then brought and white tattoo-like lines traced on the face (in the same way that a corpse was decorated) after which the party em-barked again, and with much ceremonious chanting and blowing of conch shells took the now almost unconscious victim to the place of sacrifice. Before disembarking once more,a man short of stature was selected as bearer,who carried the “veala” pickaback, while the company made a slow progress, to the accompaniment of the hooting conch shells to the “hope,” or sacred place. After the offering of pepper-leaf, betel-nut, and certain sweet-scented herbs at the “hope,” the victim, still on the bearer’s back, was approached by an attendant and struck heavily on both ears with the open hand. Now completely stupefied, the “veala” was quickly decapitated by another man with a razor-edged bamboo knife. The headless trunk was then lowered on to a stone called “keresena,” while the head was placed on the “hope.” At this stage the bamboo knife was flung high in the air to be scrambled for, the one who succeeded in catching it being later rewarded with gifts of shell-money. The trunk of the victim being prepared for the native earth oven, the carcase of a pig of the opposite sex to the “veala” was cooked separately. When in due course the sacrificial meal was apportioned amongst those present, particular care was exerciscd about the reservation of a share for the “tomate” or spirits.
The origin of the “veala” rite is more or less obscure, but native tradition asserts that the “siri” or red parakeet was formerly the sacrificial object in New Georgia, until four men from that island were guided by a mythical pigeon to a certain place on Ysabel, from whence they were responsible in introducing the human sacrifice. The mention of the red parakeet (and the possible connection with the light skinned “veala”) will be noted as of more than passing interest from an anthropological point of view. Is it perhaps too subtle a suggestion to infer, despite the hideousness of the “veala” rite, a connection with the story of the sacrifice (since corrupted by generations of heathen practice) told to wondering Ysabel natives by Alvaro de Mendana’s zealous chaplains over three and a half centuries ago?
My firstborn daughter, Sumana is named after a Veala who was a chief’s daughter from Ysabel, captured in a raid. She was so attractive that the chief of the Saikile tribe, the principal tribe in the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons, took a great fancy to her and ended up playing with his food so to speak. She married him and became an honoured member of the tribe. Interestingly enough, she is still remembered in Ysabel as the princess who survived. An Ysabel person told me her story and was surprised to hear that I already knew it, and delighted to learn that my daughter was her descendant.