Hi from Clare, 11-2019 Heading north to Luganville 12th October 2019
Today is the thirteenth day of our trip from Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, to Luganville which is the second largest town in Vanuatu. The distance is only 150 miles but we have stopped at many places along the way to enjoy the village hospitality and learn more about the Vanuatu culture.
We arrived at the island of Epi on 29th September in company with three other yachts. We have known Mark on ‘Macushla’ for a number of years having sailed with him across two oceans and through the Caribbean. We made new American friends, Ian and Cindy on ‘Oyster Reach’ and together we are travelling up to Luganville. British couple, Steve and Jody on Ena Vigo are also new to us although known through our radio net.
|Our anchorage at Epi Island|
Lamen Bay, Epi, is a small but industrious community. The village houses and gardens are well maintained. We found the ladies making baskets from palm reeds and we had breakfast at a most attractive hut decorated with shells. The breakfast of eggs, toast, local fruit, pancakes with local jam, tea or coffee was delicious and cost $5.
|Village ladies making multi purpose baskets|
|At Breakfast Left Cindy, Andrew, Clare, Right Steve, Ian, Jodi|
The snorkelling was good, we found large turtles, but no dugong. It always amazes us that when snorkelling we always find something we haven’t seen before. The photo below shows a living creature that looks like a piece of wool spread over the coral, but when disturbed the tentacles retract back to one central point; quite fascinating to watch.
Our next stop was Port Sandwich. No sooner had we dropped the anchor that a canoe came alongside welcoming us with gifts of papaya, and grapefruit. When walking ashore that afternoon, small children gave us lemons and bananas. The next morning was market day so we set out at 6.30am with Ian and Cindy of ‘Oyster Reach’ and Steve and Jodi of ‘Ena Vigo’ to arrive in time for the early morning 7am market. I think someone forgot to tell the locals the start time as no seller arrived until 9am. We stocked up on fresh vegetables and I bought a dozen eggs. You can imagine how surprised I was that night to discovered that the eggs were hard boiled.
|Receiving local fruit upon arrival|
|The local market at Port Sandwich|
The three kilometre walk to market gave us an opportunity to see the small villages along the way. The people came out to talk to us and seemed genuinely interested in where we came from and how long we had been cruising. Even the children would step forward without hesitation to shake hands, it is very cute.
|Village children on the way to the market|
Port Sandwich is a very deep bay and has a number of rivers to explore by dinghy. We packed a picnic lunch and along with Ian and Cindy from ‘Oyster Reach’ we motored our dinghies up the rivers enjoying the explosion of tropical foliage teaming with bird life.
|Our trip up the river|
Our next stop was at Banam Bay where we organised a walk to a waterfall and some traditional dancing. The people here live in small communities of extended families. All the huts are in close proximity. The people seemed very happy and contented, they smile a lot. We met a mother carrying a one year old child who shook our hands unprompted, it was very endearing. We couldn’t help but notice that we haven’t heard any small children crying in the village communities. There seems to be endless child minders carrying little ones around.
|The Gorgeous Children from Banam Bay|
The walk to the waterfall was easy on flat ground and mostly in the shade of fruit trees. The chief from the first village was our guide. The waterfall was owned by the next village so we had to ask permission from that chief to see his waterfall. So the chief from the second village came along with us and showed us the various edible plants along the way. We were given a cacao fruit to suck on. The outside of the bean is white, soft and sweet and only bitter if you bite into the brown bean. It was a good experience as the people are very welcoming. Andrew and Ian from ‘Oyster Reach’ enjoyed a dip in the pool at the base of the waterfall. The girls were content to just wade in up to our knees.
|Andrew having a dip in the waterfall|
|The two chiefs with Andrew, Ian with the local lads|
In the afternoon we returned to the first village to see the dance show, Unlike other communities we have experienced, the men danced in one area and the woman in another. Their tradition in this village is that the village women are not allowed to watch the men dancing. We think the men we saw dancing really enjoyed themselves. We then went to another location and watched the woman dance. Their dancing was similar to what we have seen before but there was more participation by small girls who joined in enthusiastically.
|The village men dancing|
|The village women dancing|
It was with some regret we left this community and sailed the following morning to Port Stanley. This is a busy location with a wharf, lots of cars, and townships that have been established long ago by the French and English. We hitched a ride in the back of a four wheel drive for $1 to the township of Lakatoro. We were hoping to visit a local handy craft shop which has a good reputation. However it was shut and none of the local people could tell us when it might be opened again. Not to worry, we consoled ourselves with a visit to a chocolate factory instead and bought some rather tasty dark chocolate.
Earlier that morning a local family from Selenamboro village on Uri Island came out to our boat for a chat. The guy, David, asked Andrew if he would help him wire his new house for electric light. So Andrew spent a few hours that afternoon cobbling it together and as he said, probably breaking all the wiring rules. However by the end of the day the job was complete and the local guy was a happy man. Now he needs lights to use with his solar powered battery.
|Andrew at work|
|David with his first light switch|
The following morning we sailed to Wala Island. We were instantly met by a local offering a tour of the island for $5 with a basket of local fruit at the end. So we went for a walk around the island but we have to say the guide was very hard to understand. When talking about local customs, it was difficult to determine whether he was talking about now or a custom from the past, so we didn’t learn a lot. The fruit at the end was most generous. We ended up with mangoes, papaya, bananas, grapefruit, ginger and cucumber. The guide asked Andrew to check his house batteries and wanted any spare rope we might have to tie his house roof down in preparation for the next cyclone. He also asked if I could put some movies on his USB stick. I agreed thinking I could just give him what we had, but no, he only wanted action movies and musicals. So I spent quite a few hours during the night sorting through our movies to give him what he wanted. He was pretty happy this morning when he came by at 6.30am to collect the two sticks he gave us yesterday. We have concluded after the last few days that the requests are always larger and more complicated than first anticipated.
Yesterday morning we sailed to Vao Island and had a good walk with a chief who couldn’t speak English. French is the second language for these islanders. However the chief managed quite well explaining that where we were walking was tabu unless we were with the chief. It was an area of traditional ceremonies usually including the killing of a pig. There are six tam tam drums (hollow logs), one for each village on the island. Each tam tam has its own sound and that is how the chief calls the people of that village to assembly. The tam tam can be heard from a great distance.
|Ian, Andrew and the chief in front of the tam tam|
SO WHAT’S NEXT
This morning we sailed to Espirito-Santo. We caught a very nice tuna on the way so we are sharing dinner with Oyster Reach tonight. We don’t know how long we will stay here but we want to dive on the wreck of the President Coolidge which is a World War 2 troop ship that sank after running into a friendly mine. Also Million Dollar Point where the American government dumped all their equipment at the end of the war. We also want to see Luganville township before sailing back to Port villa.
We have very much enjoyed our trip north and we think Vanuatu is a lovely country.
Love Candy xx