Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Memories of Vanuatu

Vanuatu was a spot where the population still lives in quite a primitive manner. Lots of people still live in thatched huts with dirt floors. The thatching varied from beautifully natural designs to dwellings that had painted thatching that emphasized the design, I preferred the natural ones. The crazy thing was that most of these folks had cell phones, but they did not have the electricity to charge them and in one anchorage we had a number of outriggers come up to us and ask us to charge their phones. One fella even told us that he thought cell phones contributed to unwanted pregnancies and crime. He spent most of the time that we had contact with him on the phone.
The locals seemed to think that because we had a big boat that they could ask us for anything and expect it in exchange for very little. For the most part we did not mind this, but at one spot we gave a fella one of our set of overalls, at first he said it was too big and refused them, but later his wife came by and said he had FORGOTTEN his coveralls and in exchange gave us 2 bananas, 1 pawpaw and another vegetable. Now we will have to buy another set of overalls if we ever want to paint the bottom again! In another spot we had a man come with his small daughter to welcome us and ask if we had anything. He said he had nothing for us but he did say that his wife was going to give birth and ask if we had any blankets, we happily gave him as spare Mexican blanket that we had, the smile on his daughter face was all the reward we wanted.
The Ni-Vans were most welcoming, they invited us to share their homes, their food and their lives. We were offered a place to live, the chief ‘s son said that his father would happily build us a home. We might have to take him up on it one of these days, it would a great spot to spend the winters and we would have a vacation get away for all our family to come and join us. We have heard that further north friends were adopted into a family and are welcomed there.
We often felt like we had stepped into a National Geographic photo shoot. The young man who took us on the tour of the hot springs by Mount Yasur in Tanna painted his face with colored mud that he dug out from around the hot steam vents. He also explained how they killed the flying foxes (or fruit bats) by throwing sticks at them while they were in the air. The primitive bows and arrows that fisherman used just emphasized the National Geographic feeling. In Erromango we watched the males of the village work together to set a huge fishing net around the entrance to an estuary, some swimming, some paddling dugout outrigger canoes. In Asunvari we woke up to a fleet of canoes being paddled in as parents brought their children to school. The fellow that was our guide to the bat caves, took his 5 year old son up and down a very steep slippery path to school every day, some days he carried him. The kustom dancing in Port Sandwich was amazing.
We are thinking of returning to Vanuatu next year to spend more time in this country that has so much to offer. There are so many places we didn’t get to experience and many other people who can show us how to happily live in a much simpler manner.