Saturday, August 4, 2007

Espiritu Santo

July 13, 2007
coordinates 15.31.391S,167.09.912E

Our next destination was Espiritu Santo Island and just far enough away that we didn't want to do an over night passage so we made a stop back at the north end of Malekula Island. A quick overnight sleep tucked behind the little island of Wala and we were ready for our final push the next day. Regrettably our last stop in Vanuatu would be Luganville. We were running out of time and there were so many more outlying islands to visit. Once anchored in the bay of Luganville the weather turned very
wet and rainy. We spent the next 4 days dodging rain drops, resupplying the boats and finishing our paperwork to clear out of the country. Of greatest interest on Espiritu Santo Island is the role they played during WWII as a base for the US. There are many a relic of old war planes, cannons and such to see. Perhaps the most interesting though is Million Dollar point. The story goes as such, the war was over and the US was pulling out. They had a ton of extra equipment left there and offered
to sell it to the local government for a very good price at the time. Thinking they could get a better deal the Vanuatu government held out hoping to get the lot for free. The US said no way jose and dumped every piece into the ocean where it still rests as a marvelous dive site and now home to coral and sea creatures. There is also the USS Coolidge which sank here and is now a spectacular dive site as well we hear.

Luganville and Port Vila are really the only two towns of industry especially since they are both shipping ports. Therefore, the only few jobs to be had throughout the islands of Vanuatu are there. It you ask anyone on any of the other islands what they do for a job you will get the most perplexed look. Are you silly? There is no shame in not having a job and there is no desire either. Certainly not because they are lazy or have no desire to work. Quite the contrary. First it is too expensive
to live near the city for the amount of money you will earn, and there just aren't that many jobs. Outside those two ports of call the rest of the villagers are too busy tending their gardens to have a job. They are busy living life, surviving on what the earth has to provide them.

The running joke on the boat is that when we set sail for the islands we didn't expect to find natives in loin clothes with bones through their nose, but neither did we expect to find cell phones, satellite dishes and weed whackers in every yard. Maybe rather naive of us. Again, not that they don't deserve them, we just didn't think they had made it there yet. And we had hoped to travel the world to simply experience these other cultures in their own environment, not look like walking dollar signs
ready to hit every tourist trap possible. Though it took crossing the entire Pacific Ocean, we believe we have finally found this and much more in Vanuatu. They are happy making their way in their own world and they are happy to introduce you to it as well. There is an obvious respect and care for their world and land. They have all they need and they have dreams they are working toward, one coconut shell at a time. Always happy for assistance or a donation, as a rule you never felt pressured
or obligated to give. But who wouldn't want to share with such a generous and genuine people. We will miss Vanuatu.
until next time,
your faithful Ohana Kai crew

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