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Ambrym

In an attempt to remove myself as far from civilization as possible and to see the mystery behind one of Vanuatu’s active volcanoes, I arrived to the island of Ambrym after Pentecost via a small speedboat. The plan was relatively simple: hike from North Ambrym to West Ambrym via the volcano ash plain. In order to do this I needed a guide, and fortunately one of Mary’s papas in Pangi was from North Ambrym, and he referred me to John Koko (who also happens to be one of Mary’s brothers).

John lives in the kastom village of Fanla, and I spent three days here eating traditional food and drinking kava. I wished I had a book, though, since there wasn’t too much to do around the village, and I became quite bored. It’s no wonder the local kids (and sometimes teenagers) push around sticks with tuna cans attached as wheels for entertainment.

The hike from North Ambrym to West Ambrym was an incredible experience, but while we were actually marching through the endless ash and volcanic rock, I couldn’t remember a time when I felt so hot and thirsty. This day alone beget a number of stories… jumping headlong into some black sand that soaked us knee-deep in water, almost suffering from heat exhaustion, running out of water (twice), and escaping the bulls. Quite a bit of Type II fun (something not so fun at the time, but great fun in retrospect).

My remaining three days in Ambrym were spent in the small village of Emiotungun and Craig Cove. My flight from Craig Cove to Vila was delayed by a day, but eh, it’s Vanuatu, and you quickly learn to take such transportation issues in stride. As Mary said back in Pangi, “The boat will come… maybe.”

Fanla’s kava preparation gets a thumbs up.

John Koko’s long-drop toilet.

John Koko on the trail to West Ambrym.

The checked luggage for the flight to Vila.

The Islander arrives, and the return to civilization begins.

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