We visited Port Vila market - a speciality was tuluk (taro filled with beef, served hot wrapped up in a banana leaf - the lady who made them was delighted that we enjoyed this cheap snack so much that we went back to her stall 2 days in a row). We bought lots of fruit and vegetables as our new crew Jaime and Beau are vegetarians, they arrived from Mexico and are now settling into 'Vanuatu time'….
Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Richard and I spent a few days in Port Vila, saying farewell to the WARC fleet, sorting out documentation with Customs/ Immigration and provisioning. On Friday we sailed the short distance to Mele Bay and enjoyed swinging at anchor in the lee of 'Hideaway Island', going ashore to the 'beach bar' in the evening to watch local performers' 'Fire Show' which involved ~ 10 men and women doing all sort of dangerous routines involving fire - very high energy and great entertainment value.
The Ni-Vanuatu people are wonderfully fun-loving, friendly and cheerful - they have been identified as the 'happiest people in the world' and from my personal experience that seems to be pretty accurate. They also seem to have incredible memories for a face: now 3 different people have said to me ' I know you, you have been here before some years ago'…. (I was here in 2001 and 2005) N
Sunday, 28 July 2019
A few years ago there had been a farm in this bay, but the family had moved south to Dillons Bay. We found lots of mango, orange, lime and papaya trees, and massive yuccas, plus several fruit/ vegetables which we didn't recognise. We also enjoyed a great view of Tintin in the anchorage from the top of the cliffs.
Nicki catching up with blog entries…
We departed Port Resolution a day behind the rest of the WARC fleet, and had a brisk ~50 nautical miles sail to Erromango. The Yasur volcano was venting lots of smoke and ash as se sailed past, fortunately sufficiently far away that very little of it landed on Tintin's deck or sails. On the way Richard caught a skipjack tuna.
That evening on arrival at Dillons Bay, we caught up with most of the WARC fleet again, just in time for see them all leave for Port Vila overnight; most of them complaining that they had had very little sleep in the rolly anchorage the previous night. We deployed Rob's 'popper stopper device' (a horizontal board just under the water surface, weighted down to minimise the side-to-side rolling of the boat hanging from the spinnaker pole off the side of the boat; this worked pretty well for us.
The following morning Richard and I went up the river in the dinghy to the village and were befriended by Chris who was playing the guitar under a tree with his friends. We asked to be introduced to the village chief, but since he was away in Port Vila Chris took us to meet the chief's daughter Joanna instead. She was very happy to receive some gifts for the village including our freshly caught and filleted fish, and some 'trading items' from Jo's cupboard including first-aid supplies, toiletries, baseball caps, glasses etc.
The island of Erromango is famous for its sandalwood and kauri trees; since our sailing boat 'Rhumbline' is built of New Zealand kauri we were interested to see some Vanuatu kauri trees if possible. Most of the large stands of trees are far inland, so Chris took us for a walk along the river to show us a kauri tree which had been planted by his great-grandmother some 20 years earlier - clearly kauri trees grow a lot faster here than in NZ.
Tuesday, 23 July 2019
All the skippers in the World ARC fleet boats were then asked to place their respective gift items on the grass; the villagers made their pile beside it, comprised mostly of woven baskets filled with fruit from their gardens, and beautiful home made small decorative bags. The chief picked up a large bundle of kava root symbolising his acceptance of our offerings, then Stefano collected 'our' kava root on behalf of all the sailors.
After songs from the school children and speeches we were asked to pick up the gifts from the villagers; our baskets contained fresh papayas, limes, peppers, passion fruit, spring onions and lots of decorative flowers, plus a green vegetable we have never seen before. (Laura and Matthew took the decorative woven bags back to Canada as NZ Quarantine / Biosecurity rules prohibit them.)
Our gifts to the villagers were carefully shared out between all the families, seemingly very fairly and with no arguments. We hope that Tintin's various gifts of pots/ cooking utensils, a machete, clothing, first aid items, sunglasses, baseball caps and writing materials and paper are well received by the villagers and the school.
We gave some freshly caught fish to a lady in the village, Moni, to feed her family; (the villagers struggle to go far outside the reef in their small boats. ) She gave us some lettuce, limes papayas and spring onions by way of thanking us, and showed us around her small house and garden, proudly showing us her mother pig with several tiny piglets.
So, prior to the ceremony, I asked her if I was appropriately dressed to meet the chief - she insisted that I should wear one of her dresses, very generously introducing me to all the many family members getting ready in her living room and taking me into the sleeping room and giving me a colourful 'mother Hubbard' dress which was carefully stored in a suitcase. it was light cotton and very colourful, she wanted me to keep it as a memory of our visit to Tanna. How wonderfully generous of her, when they have so little in the way of material timings. (as skipper I was required to speak briefly to all the assembled crowd and hand over Tintin's gifts to the chief).
Every one of the sailors was given a coconut and a woven hat to wear - very fetching! the schoolchildren wore their school uniforms and sang for us, and the women mostly wore colourful dresses, painted their faces and dressed their small children in their Sunday best clothes. The lady in the last photo below is Moni's cousin, Alice, listening to one of the elders speaking.