Chapter Fifteen

From what Joma could gather, the village was smaller than home. It was poorer too, with the huts created from lesser materials. The wood used for construction appeared to be from salvage jobs based on the crude cuts.

Babo noticed the look on Joma’s face, “Different from where you’re from eh?” the man queried.

He went on, “The surrounding lands are not ideal but we make do”.

“The trees are not strong enough for building purposes, especially considering the many storms which affect the area. As a result, we rely on salvaging shipwrecks,” he explained.

“Food is an everyday battle too – though it may not look like it!” he chuckled while slapping his rotund belly.

“Many of the fish are poisonous so we rely on foraging vegetation”.

They reached the largest hut of the village. Smoke puffed from its chimney and a pleasant aroma emanated from within. The little girl, Elta, rushed inside while Babo and Joma took sat at a table. They had barely sat down when a middle-aged lady delivered a bowl of hot stew.

Joma hated stew but his stomach was indifferent as it grumbled loudly.

He was glad for the hospitality – it was not the time to be fussy. He sipped at the stew with a wooden spoon. It was decent. The flavour was earthy with hints of spices he did not recognise.

Babo looked at him expectantly, “What do you think?”

“It’s very good, thank you,” Joma replied appreciatively while nodding to the cook.

While Joma ate, Babo filled him in about village life. He talked of the many wrecks and how Joma had been lucky to survive.

Joma finished the last of his soup when the big man asked, “Where were you going anyway?”

“I don’t know,” Joma winced, recognising how foolish this sounded.

Babo laughed, “You need sleep. We’ll talk tomorrow”.

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