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Archive for the ‘Vanuatu’ Category

Ranwas

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

After arriving to Pentecost, Mary, Brizz, and I caught a truck across the island to the village of Ranwas. Here we met Teresa and Rebecca for the opening of the newly built Ranwas school. (Mary, Brizz, Teresa, and Rebecca are all Peace Corps voluneers, and Ranwas is Teresa’s village.) As Mary’s friend, I was invited to join the celebrations as a special guest, and after a parade, I received a lei and a large pink basket as a gift at the opening ceremony. (Apparently pink isn’t a feminine color in Vanuatu.) After the ceremony, the village feasted and danced to string band. It was amazing, and perhaps a haiku (inspired during the ceremony) describes the day best:

Great experience
A phrase that describes today
I like pink baskets

The full kastom and very traditional village of Bunlap (documented on the Discovery Channel) was only a 40 minute hike from Ranwas, so Brizz and I decided to visit the following day. Our guides led us through some pretty remote bush, and the path become complicated and slippery after an unexpected downpour (one of the hardest rains I’ve ever seen). Fortunately, the downpour happened when we were close to Bunlap, so we took shelter in one of the chief’s kitchens with many other Bunlap residents; they were wearing (a lack of) traditional clothes and were amazed that I could touch the ceiling by just standing there.

Once the chief arrived, we delivered some photos as a gift from Teresa, and headed back to Ranwas to prepare for our trip to Pangi.

Mary and the jungle road to Ranwas.

The parade we joined, which marched to the school.

Teresa dancing with the local school children.

From left, Teresa’s kitchen, swim house (shower), and house.

Brizz on the bush path to Bunlap.

Pentecost

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

After Santo, I disappeared into the remote jungles of Vanuatu (and believe me, they were remote). First came the island of Pentecost (named after the day Captain Cook sighted it), known throughout the world for its tradition of naghol, or land diving. On Pentecost, I spent five incredible days hanging out with Peace Corps volunteers in the villages of Ranwas and Pangi, and each deserves a post to itself.

At this point, one might wonder how I got in touch with the Peace Corps volunteers. The answer is as simple as CouchSurfing and making one lucky (and expensive!) phone call to Pangi’s village phone to contact Mary, the Peace Corps volunteer stationed here since 2006.

Mary: the friendly Peace Corps volunteer in Pangi.

Espiritu Santo

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I’ve spent the past week or so doing some diving and taking some courses at Aquamarine in Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Most of my dives were on the SS President Coolidge. It’s an amazing wreck, and some of the swim-throughs are quite spectacular…

One of the courses I took was my Wreck Specialty, which involved laying line through the Coolidge’s chain locker, taking my mask off (i.e., blinding myself), and navigating my way out. On another dive, I logged my deepest depth yet: 53 meters (174 feet). Great fun!

Pat Pat, my guide through the SS President Coolidge.

Rob loaded with drop tanks.

The Lady and me.

Navigating through the Coolidge.