In Anatom we had a lovely walk into the hills with Richard, the customs agent, to look for the immigration agent. Everything is done by hand and foot here, including clearing a large parcel of land to make into a soccer field. I was also looking for the woman who weaves the beautiful baskets and we found her village along the way. The hut construction is beautiful and intricate using palm leaves and local wood. Many of the huts have flower gardens and they keep the grounds very clean and orderly. The wind continued to howl and the water was choppy, but things settled down on Saturday so we went snorkeling on Mistery Island. It wasn’t worth the effort because of the strong current and barren sandy bottom. We decided to leave Saturday night at 10:30pm for a brief overnight sail to Port Resolution, Tanna.
Arrived Sunday morning about 7:30am as the sun was rising in the East and the half moon was heading for the West. We could see the large orange glow of Mt. Yasur volcano behind Port Resolution bay. Quite an amazing welcome. We’ve been here for only 3 days but it seems much longer as we packed in a lot of walking and mingling with the locals. Eric and Amy on Secret Agent Man introduced us to Jocelyn, the chief’s wife who really runs the show here. I’ve been on a bit of a basket buying frenzy and really wanted to know how to make one myself. Ruth was kind enough to spend the morning showing me the complicated techniques that I found difficult and confusing. We made the hour drive to Yasur volcano, tightly squeezed into a truck on what would barely pass as a road. It was cold and windy with volcanic dust getting into every crevice of my body and clothing. Intense rumblings and wooshing sounds signaled wild erruptions of lava rocks thrown into the air. No guard rails, just a steep hike up the side of the crater for a magnificent view.
The villagers are friendly and generous. We’ve been given fruits and veggies and made to feel most welcome. Yesterday we visited their “restaurant” and “coffee shop”, a thatched hut with sand floor and tables covered in colorful cloth. Tanna coffee was presented in an espresso plunger, along with 2 delicious bananas and cookies. While sipping coffee we conversed with a French fellow from New Caledonia and a German cruiser couple. Conversation was mostly with hands as none of us spoke French and he limited English. Sara, the owner, speaks 5 languages including French and English. It was a memorable experience.
Today we leave for Port Vila, Efate. We really need to get rid of our 10-day old trash and it’s the only place we can do so. The villages are self sufficient, growing their own food and building their own shelters. We take care to only gift them items that don’t make rubbish. Thinking about all the stuff we accumulate in the U.S., and its packaging, this island lifestyle can be very appealing with its simplicity. Interesting side notes: in Ruth’s village, there are currently 5 sets of twins which they don’t find unusual. Everyone helps everyone else. When land needs clearing for crops they all pitch in and no one goes hungry. Jocelyn doesn’t allow her husband the chief to drink kava. The women all wear skirts with a scalloped edge and almost all the women weave baskets. When giving someone something always wrap it (in a large banana left), otherwise it’s given without respect. When a baby is born the first month mother and child spend inside the hut. After the first month, they walk through all the villages introducing the baby to everyone.
Photos will follow eventually.