Friday, June 29, 2007


A simply calm and boring 3 day passage from Fiji to Vanuatu found us happily in the anchorage of Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu. We did end up motoring a bit due to the lack of wind toward the end but we'll take that trip over something breaking this time. It is amazing the difference four hundred miles can make. As far as introductions go to the Vanuatu islands, this southern island is absolutely pristine and fascinating. I will start it by saying that up to this point we had prided
ourselves on trying to learn the local language and get to know everyone by name, where ever we go. Vanuatu called us out and won. As a nation they speak over 100 languages. The island of Tanna itself speaks over 40, beyond English, French and Bislama. Thank goodness they are so kind and patient with us.

Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
coordinates 19.31.506S,169.29.788E
When we arrived we were greeted by kids in outriggers anxiously awaiting for the local supply ship to unload it's goods. The weather here is amazingly humid and of most interest to us, you can see the perpetual venting of steam around the edges of the bay from the hot springs that well up at the base of Mt. Yasur, their very active volcano. It too has it's own weather system of sorts with the continual release of large steam clouds and winds at the top of the mountain.
The four days we spent here were each an adventure in it's own right and each worth a page of writing so I will try to summarize. Walking the roads, tire tracks cut into lush grass, to find each village, a smaller community of families living together in woven huts was great fun. 20 to 30 people would live in each community, all family, surrounded by all the mango, papaya, banana, produce, etc. they need.

A local named Olsen rowed out to our boat and befriended us, trading produce for clothing and fish hooks. He even spent an entire day aboard our boat and answered every question we could come up with regarding their culture and ceremonies including their languages, he knows 27, the kastom (custom or ceremony) of Kava, the children chew the root up and spit it out, only the men are aloud to drink it, and they do, every night, magic rocks and potions, much preferred over western medicine and cannibalism
that supposedly stopped in 1969!
We were invited to a birthday party for a one year old in one of the villages and had a great afternoon sharing lap lap (a doughy substance made from bananas, yams or manioc, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked under ground with hot rocks), and snake beans, which taste much like thin strips of broccoli. We shared our stash of balloons and marbles with all the other children in the community and had a wonderful time being included in Leah's family.

Best of all was our trip up the Mt. Yasur volcano. You are only allowed to travel up the with guides when it is a level I or II and we were in luck with a level one. Truly I don't know if we would have wanted to stick around for a level II as the amount of lava we could see being spurt into the air, and the roaring sound that accompanied it was plenty exciting. Though it is plenty far away and much below the ridge we were standing on, there were moments where we would all look up and wonder if
that was the belch that may send the globs of glowing red stuff high above our heads. They actually have the only volcano post office box in the world up there as well.

Though the missionaries made their mark here long ago, and of course were then promptly eaten, Christianity is very strong here with an amazing mix of their own beliefs still held intact. The rituals for the coming of age for both boys and girls, weddings, circumcisions and funerals are alive and well. Luckily the wives are no longer strangled and placed in the grave with the chief when he dies, and for a woman it is no longer an honor to have your front 2 teeth knocked out by your husband. From
what we can tell though, each village let alone island is slightly different from the next and all the more fun to explore!

until next time,
your crew on Ohana Kai

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