Oct. 1 – land diving in Homo Bay, Pentecost

8am and the anchor is up in Ranon.  As soon as we passed the point on Ambryn the winds picked up to 20-25kt and we had a beam reach to Pentecost.  Just over 2 hours later we dropped anchor in rain and drizzle which was our weather for the next couple of days.

We took the dinghy to shore and found the village very quiet with no one around.  We walked through the naghol (land dive) area which is no longer used as the event has been moved to Wali and other villages.  This is probably the most spectacular custom in Vanuatu.  At 8 years old the boys get circumcised and then they begin practicing jumps with their elders, off shoulders and boulders into the sea.  Pentecost men spend weeks building their towers on hillsides, using tree trunks, saplins, branches and vines, in the shape of a man.  The soil in front of the tower is cleared of rocks and other debris and loosened.  When they’re ready to make the naghol they carefully select liana vines to tie around their ankles, having an experienced elder check it’s strong and elastic enough.  They climb up their tower, raise their hands to the crowd telling their most intimate thoughts, and jump.  The vine is “supposed” to stop them with just their hair touching the ground to fertilize the yam crop.  10-12 young men from each village will make their dives from April-June.  It’s too bad we weren’t here during those months.

We frequently spend sunset with friends, rotating around to each other’s boats.  One evening we happened to be on Yolo and Semien, a ni-Vanu, came by offering us some kava.  He came aboard with a 2 litre bottle of his homemade kava which looked suspiciously like muddy water.  We drank it – about a half gallon of the stuff.  No one got sick or stupid and it gave us a great memory.  And it tasted pretty good too.

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