Thursday, August 2, 2007


July 10, 2007
coordinates 16.08.445S,168.07.169E

Ambrym, home to two active volcanos, Mt. Benbow and Mt. Marum. We anchored in front of the village of Ranon. The weather was with us again as we had a marvelous day sail there. Maybe just to celebrate our anniversary of 2 full years at sea, we had the luck of catching our very first wahoo. Actually we caught 2 of them, at the same time and they were each 4 ft. long. whew. Not wanting any to go to waste, we let one go and kept one for ourselves. There is enough meat on these massive creatures
to last us quite a while. Even with that, we gave half of it away to some local villagers out fishing, gave a bag away to the local harbor master Jeffrey and a bag to the Kelly's. What we had left, we feasted on for 2 or 3 days.

The weather was also on our side in terms of the anchorage. Due to the two volcanos so close to the shore, when the winds blow out of the S/SW, the air quality can become so bad with ash and fumes that we heard you may have to wear a cloth face mask in order to tolerate it. They can even have difficulties with acid rain that destroys their crops we heard. Our goal here was to head 45 mins. inland to the town of Fanla and witness the ROM Dance, exclusive only to this village. With light winds out
of the N, we would have no troubles.

Once anchored here you are immediately met by Jeffrey, the "harbor master". His house is the closest to the anchorage and he can get to you first in his outrigger, which is one reason why he got the job. Not to mention he speaks wonderful English and is quite a good will ambassador. Australia has a very significant volunteer force and had been instrumental in this community with helping them set up a visitor information center, and outlining various events and guided outtings that you can participate
in. It was here that we met Able, a kind young man who became our guide for our hike to Fanla. Enthusiastic and eager to tell us all about his island he was happy to do the talking, which was good. Our less than fit "yachty" bodies, which have spent more time sitting on boats than walking, focused on our breathing while hiked 45 mins. up through the jungle to the village of Fanla.

Vanuatu itself is famous for big and small namba dances. Namba refers to the woven pouch that fits over a males genitals, and big or small refers to how large and fancy the decorations are on that pouch. The Rom dance adds a new costume to it with men dressed from head to toe in giant costumes made of panadus leaves. It is difficult to describe except to say that they look like giant trees of sorts with intricately woven face masks that are pointy on top. Men throughout the islands go through
different "grades" as they call them. Usually by proving your strength and worth by how many pigs you can deliver. They go through different grades to reach the Rom dancer status. In the village they also did some exhibitions with playing their "tamtam" slit gong drums, bamboo flutes and sand drawings. Each act is used to call to and or appease the appropriate spirits for the occasion needed, such as a good yam harvest in December.

After the performances were through, we realized they had laid out all their hand made wood and stone carvings for us to purchase. It was difficult to decide as there were so many spectacular items to choose from. It seemed like we were encircled by the entire village while we contemplated how much money could we spend and how much room did we have on the boats to store trinkets. We would have taken it all if we could. As we chose our items, the maker and craftsman of that particular item stepped
forward. We didn't really put two and two together in the beginning that they were watching us appreciated or pass over each of their own artifacts. It broke our hearts to not take one of something from everyone. Each as deserving as the next. The joy though is getting to watch the money go directly to families and villagers that desperately need it. Especially inland, they live by such meager means, torn clothes, and barely cots on hard dirt floors for sleeping. We gladly left the village
a heavy purse and hiked our way home with fresh coconut milk to cool us on our way. It was amazing to see that as we walked out of the village, the women were already back at work, cutting more pieces of bamboo with their hack saws, in order for the men to begin carving more flutes. There is no wasted time or effort in these neck of the woods.

Once back in town, as the sky grows dark, the volcano can be seen glowing a red crown over it's crest. Impressive. We spent dinner on shore with Jeffrey as our host. We are growing quite a palate for laplap by the kerosene lantern, while sitting on woven mats on the ground. Always happy to sit and discuss each others cultures, they are generous and giving spirits.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

Please remember not to hit reply when responding to messages with out deleting the old message first. Thank you.

No comments: