waya island, fiji


...and the witch doctor who stole the cruise ship

After Ranwas, I spent my remaining time in Pentecost in Pangi (Mary’s village). Every Saturday in April and May, a cruise ship docks off the shore and thousands of tourists (mostly Australians) come to Pangi to see the land diving. (Pangi is one of the largest land diving villages.) This brings in a lot of money to the village, and some people get jealous. In Vanuatu, when people get jealous, a witch doctor throws a few stones into the water and conjures up some “majik” to make waves or rain. Thanks to the witch doctor (or El Niño), there were huge waves the day Pangi was supposed to welcome the tourists for land diving. The waves were so large, in fact, that the cruise ship couldn’t send its passengers to land and had to turn away. The land diving in Pangi was cancelled.

However, there are a number of villages in South Pentecost that host land diving festivals for tourists; almost all land diving that white people attend is now for tourists. The festivals still seem quite traditional, though, and we saw the land diving in a village near Pangi. As men jump from the rickety naghol tower, vines stop their plummet just as their hair touches the ground to fertilize the yam crops. Throughout all of this, men, women, and children of all ages sing and dance below the tower.

Apart from the land diving and occasional cruise ships, life in Pangi is very peaceful and relaxing. The epitome of this was a swim hole located in taro fields a short hike from Pangi. Imagine floating down the “lazy river:” an irrigation ditch a couple meters/yards wide that winds lazily through taro and coconut palms. You won’t find this place in the guide books, and if I’ve ever seen paradise, that was it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it… However, the pictures I do have show what sunsets, land diving, and the night life in Pangi is like. Enjoy!

A Pangi sunset.

The huge waves that prevented the tourists from landing.

Some of the local children dressed for naghol dancing.

A local man jumping from the naghol tower.

Teresa, Brizz, Jared, and Mary enjoying some late night rice and chicken.

One Response to “Pangi”

  1. apriha.com » Blog Archive » Kauai Says:

    […] on a rather spontaneous trip to meet up with Mary and Teresa, the Peace Corps volunteers I met in Vanuatu through CouchSurfing. (Val, another Peace Corps volunteer, and John, Teresa’s boyfriend, also […]

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