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Archive for the ‘Vanuatu’ Category

From Port Vila to Cairns

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Following Vila, I completed the return to civilization with a flight to Brisbane, where I spent a few short days washing all of my clothes (they needed it), hanging out with Ronan (from Scotland), and meeting his friend Amber.

My brief stay in Brisbane was followed by 3 weeks spent in Cairns; I was in Cairns to complete my PADI Divemaster certification, and inherent to the course, I was able to do some awesome scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. That being said, the next few posts will be highly diving-centric, so buckle up your cummerbunds, make sure you have your diving buddy, and prepare to make a giant stride into the adventures of a Divemaster Trainee. We’re going to have a great dive!

Boarding the plane for Brisbane.

Vanuatu (compendium post)

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

A few more photos (and videos!) from Vanuatu…

Hanging out with the Peace Corp volunteers in Ranwas, South Pentecost at the opening of the new school; the Ranwas string band accompanies the celebration…

Land diving in the village near the Lonorore airport in South Pentecost…

John Koko’s bungalow where I slept in Fanla.

John Koko and the North Ambrym ash plain.

The North Ambrym ash plain.

Efate

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Efate, the capital island of Vanuatu, is home to the capital city of Port Vila, which was my next port of call. I spent two days here hanging out with Brizz, meeting a few more Peace Corps volunteers, stocking up on souvenirs, drinking kava, eating some Olympic Burger, and last but certainly not least, washing-up with the first decent shower since Santo. Ahh, Vila!

Feeling clean, refreshed, and rehydrated!

The world’s only underwater post office.

Good morning, Port Vila!

Kava’s good; don’t fall out of the truck. ~Rob

Ambrym

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

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.

Pangi

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

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.