Crab tunnel

      ‘A navigator knows everything of currents, winds and clouds. He predicts the weather. A good navigator even knows exactly what is happening in the World.’ Wow. We are sitting on the Floor across Auraria Maasera, weather forecaster and oracle of Raweai. ‘And how does someone become a good navigator Maasera, could anyone try? ‘No usually it runs in the family, one of the kids of a navigator appears to be fit to learn the trade from his father. But Maasera was an exception, during his training for police officer he lived for a while with the family of a navigator. The children of that man were not interested to learn, but Maasera listened carefully and the knowledge fell upon fertile soil. He pulls out an A4 notepad, completely filled with notes and drawings. Everything the old navigator told, was written down by Maasera. We slowly go through the first steps. If you want to know if you can sail the seas, you have to watch at five o’clock in the afternoon at the crab tunnels at the beach. If they point straight down it is a good omen, in other words, good weather. Do they point diagonally, north, south, east or west, the wind will come from that direction. The following morning you will look at the clouds, than the current and of course the tides. Important is also in what month of the year you want to travel and you should not forget the influence of the stars. It is not an easy task to map the knowledge of Maasera. Natural and supernatural forces, at least in our point of view, are woven through each other. What about predicting the happenings in the world? ‘I am not really doing that, I am not a good navigator, acknowledges Maasera. ‘A good navigator does not eat shark, turtle or dolphin and he does not drink or smoke.’ That last taboo is Maasera’s most important activity: rolling a palm leave fag and smoking it while laying relaxed on his side between his wife and daughters. But he does want to come to the beach to show how the clouds mirror the islands below them in the distance. Aha, so that is how a skipper knows where he is going. He also will inspect the crab tunnels in front of the camera. When we walk along the shore we ask our main question: does he notice changes in the weather, the currents or nature in the past few years? Maasera nods. ‘The sun is getting hotter, it looks like it is getting closer to earth. Besides that, the predictions for the weather are expired sooner.’ He used to predict for a period of four hours, now only for two. The weather is less steady than it used to be.       Back in the village Maasera does want to tell something about the happenings in the World. About our trip and the films he has a good feeling, success is within reach. That is good to hear. For the rest of our stay we have a new friend and informant. Maasera plays cards for many hours with the other elders in the community house. That is where he hears the latest news which he tells us afterwards. He hears which boys can come fishing, he arranges girls who dance for us and the camera. One of the costumes we can take with when we give a schoolbag and notebooks in return. From his own family properties Maasera offers a belt of shells of our museum. But we refuse, that is not ours to take, that is what your daughters will dance with and later on your grandchildren. And dancing is what one of his voluptuous daughters can, that is what we saw. If one of the girls will carry on with the navigator knowledge of their that is dubious. None of them shows ambitions in that direction. And whether their dad is a great teacher is another question. He is without a doubt a good organiser and centre of community life. Anne-Marie Boer    

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