Friday, July 20, 2007

Efate to Epi

With so much to see and so little time, we are on an "island hopping crusade" as Matthew puts it. Only 30 days on our visas and a new group of villagers on each island with a little different variety of culture and traditions to share. We have managed to visit 7 anchorages, 5 islands and many different experiences into the last two weeks. It is hard to chose sometimes which way to go. Luckily the winds are some help in deciding that for us and have been very favorable all along the way.

June 30, 2007
Efate, Port Vila - Really just a quick pit stop and customs check in for us. A nicely protected anchorage with all the amenities of home, surrounded by nice water side resorts. The main excitement there was the Kelly's boat getting hit in the middle of the night by an unmanned local passenger ferry boat. No damage but Kelly boy had to board this other vessel to try to move it away only to find out that they ALWAYS leave the engine running.
We did have the opportunity to connect again with a great couple that we had met in Tanna en route to the Mt. Yasur volcano, Trevor and Rhiannon from Southern California. Very adventurous spirits, here enjoying Vanuatu as much as we were. The second big event was our "Kava" experience. That could be an entire journal entry in itself, but suffice it to say, it is terribly nasty tasting. This opinion is coming from a crew that doesn't drink coffee though. As always, it is the people that you meet
that make it wonderful. Our host for the evening was Kenzie. A kind man with a small snake on his arm that caught our attention. Again we were blessed with meeting such people that have no other agenda than to share some time with and introduce you to their world. As they told us, "We have met now, now we are friends". He took us to a local nakamal (bar) of sorts. It was dark, muddy outdoors and relatively quiet as you sit under blue tarps on picnic tables in muddy dirt and listen to the kava
speak to you. (we never did hear it say very much) They did have a great string band to listen to in case you couldn't hear your kava talking to you. We also met wonderful young guy named Edmund, who is a peer counselor down at the local health clinic. He was just as excited to sit with us for the night and learn about life at home as we were to learn from him. Don't think we will try kava any time soon again but are so glad we had the chance to share it with our two new friends.

We attempted to anchor at Hideaway Island resort where we were hoping to visit the Mele-Maat water falls and mail some underwater post cards but the weather didn't cooperate. So off we sailed with 35 knots of wind and confused seas to find a more pleasant place to sleep for the night.

July 4, 2007
On to Epi in search of dugongs. A dugong is a mammal that looks nearly exactly like manatee with the exception of the tail which looks like a whale tail. We kept an eye out for them for they were known to be seen in this bay. Occasionally we caught a glimpse or two of their noses or tails as they sounded, until the last day. A calm, quiet and overcast morning left the surface of the water very smooth which made it very easy to spot these creatures. We were just about to leave the anchorage that
morning so we had already put the outboard away for the dinghy. Instead we all hopped in the dinghy and rowed out to where we last spotted them. Relatively uninterested nor afraid of us, they continued to feed in the area. Bruce and the boys quickly put on some snorkel gear and jumped in the water. In no time Tristan spotted one swimming directly under them. They swam with the dugong for just a minute or two until he decided he didn't want company anymore and swam away. You could hear the excitement
squealing up out of their snorkels and when they surfaced there were eyeballs the size of dinner plates. Very cool!
Also on Epi we had the chance to go ashore and meet Kenneth, minister of the village. He graciously gave us a full tour of his village, church, school and airport (a simple runway strip with a nice building). So full of pride and information about his island he was a wonderful host. The most dramatic difference between this village and others was the division between the houses and pieces of property. I almost looked like home with set yards and fence lines marking out beautiful jungle style
yards. They also have a boarding school in the village with a library to rival any of ours at home. It was very impressive. The children live there at the school and the tuition can be up to 1000 vatu's (approx. $10 USD) a quarter for the higher grades. The pride they show for their surrounding and the work they have accomplished is heart warming especially when you see it standing next to the meager means by which they live.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

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