Saturday, July 11, 2015

Volcano -

We had some wonderful games of volleyball on the beach with the local children.  They are surprisingly good! Since we no longer have a "real" volleyball we played with one of those balls that are about 2 feet in diameter, and have a handle where a child is supposed to hold onto when they bounce around. It was perfect!  The ball was so big that you never lost sight of it!

So today we plan on going over to Ambrym to crawl up to the rim of the volcano and enjoy the sights, smells, and rumblings of an active volcano.  When we got up this morning the smoke from the volcano filled the eastern sky and the sunrise was a beautiful red!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Banam Bay -

This is one of our favorite places to stay. Not only is the beach soft sand, but also the water is 80 degrees and warm. This is the same village that we loved on our first trip through these islands. The anchorage is flat, and the children always seem to find a puppy to play with.

As many of you know my stingray bite was super painful the first couple of hours, then the next 10 days it was fine, and caused minimal trouble. But all of a sudden about 2 weeks ago it flared up, and I was unable to walk, and ran quite a high fever for about 5 days.  Fortunately Shannon had antibiotics, and was able to stop the infection before it got past my knee.  For the last week though it has pretty much been better, and I have loved going to the beach again with the family. But now Intrepid has been running a cyclical fever that we thought was Malaria, fortunately it was not, (we tested him), maybe it is dengue fever? But he is also doing well now.  So as I have it figured, we are set for the next couple of months, and should not have any more health issues.  It is incredible though how fast these infections can get out of control!

We had a fantastic time at a local school fundraiser today.  There was a "local string band” that played music. (And nearly every major, village has a "local string band").  They had fantastic local food, and it was wonderful watching how the locals interact.

We plan to stay here for a couple more days, and then head over to Ambrym to look into the bubbling caldron of lava.  The volcanoes are very alive and active here.  If you want to see eruptions this is a great place.  There is always plenty of lava!


Today's Actiities -

Today we got up and went with 3 big bags to the medical dispensary and gave the nurse there a bunch of new gauze, tape, and dressings as well as some skin creams.  She had indicated that she could use dressing supplies, so she seemed to indicate this would help.  I have a nebulizer to donate and thought this may be the place.  She indicated they have electricity, so I asked where the plug was.  She said there was a plug in her house.  I think it's going to use more power than they have available, so it's not going to be useful for them.

Then we went to our friend's village who took us to the local wedding here.  There was a fundraiser for their primary school.  They walked us from their house to the village (20 minutes), then from that village to the neighboring village with the primary school.  I can't believe these 6 year olds are walking this twice every day!!!  It was quite a journey through muddy jungle trails that intertwine with people's walking paths to their gardens and other villages.  We had an escort going up and only took one wrong turn coming back down.

The fundraiser was very nice.  It was $3 to enter per adult and $1 for kids.  They slaughtered a cow and cooked up rice, Chinese cabbage, and the beef.  You could buy a big plate of food for $1.  And they had skewers with onions and meat for 20 cents apiece that the kids really loved. We had more than we could eat for under $10. 

Then there was a "local string band" from Ambrym.  There are many "local string bands" and we're not really sure how you tell one from another other than this one had a lot of electronic instrumentation (speakers, amplifiers, and things).   It was funny to see all the electronics surrounding this wood box with a stick and a string as the primary focus instrument.  They had a similar sound as the other string band, a nice tune, and their lead singer had a nice even, good range of tones.  They were a good band and we enjoyed listening to them.

It was raining lightly the whole day; we had decided to go home.  As we were walking out, a woman caught up with us and invited us to tea at her house.  She was sure we should come and was very sorry she missed the kids (they had headed home for naptime).  She is the kindergarten teacher and lives right across the street.  She fed us Gatos (local donuts sort of) that her father-in-law makes and sells every day and gave us "tea".  She asked if we drink sugar, we thought she meant sugar in our tea, but it turns out that "tea" was just hot water with a spoonful of sugar in it.  Actually wasn't bad at all.  We had a nice snack and conversation, and then she went to get us some veggies she'd already brought down for us from her garden.  She gave us 2 pamplemousse, a huge cucumber, 2 Chinese cabbages, and a bag of sweet potatoes.  She then wrapped up 3 Gatos for the kids for us.  We gave her a 10-litre collapsible water container that we had and invited her out to the boat.  She will come tomorrow at 3 pm to the beach.  We have kid's clothes for her and an infant swing (maybe 2) that she can bring to the school for the kindergarteners.

We walked home, relaxed for about half an hour and the chief of the neighboring village (the one we donated the medical supplies to) came out to the boat with his son and nephew in their outrigger.  We gave them popcorn and water and showed them around.  We gave the kids a swimming mask and him some tubing to remount his sling.  Tomorrow he will bring us a bundle of bananas.  Many of the islands don't have bananas because of the cyclone, but Malekula wasn't hit too bad by the cyclone because they remembered their traditional roots, threw the knife between the coconuts to reroute the cyclone, therefore, they have bananas here, so we can get some!!!  Quite excited.  Even in Vila we couldn't get bananas before we left due to the shortage and the popularity of bananas in their diet.

All in all, we are doing great.  We heard on the net this morning about possibly a Rhom Festival (traditional dress and dance) next week on Ambrym.  Since we are going to Ambrym in the next couple of days to hike to the volcano, we can try to look into when and where this festival is also.  We are enjoying meeting the locals and immersing ourselves in the local culture.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sailing in Vanuatu -

We have been having a great time sailing slowly along the islands. There are many protected anchorages, and the people are always pleasant to meet. 

So the chickens around here live a pretty wild life. They have long legs, and they can basically fly. That is except for the roosters, which have their rudder feathers plucked out. The pretty rooster feathers are used for making masks and other things, so usually most of the roosters have had their long curved tail feather removed by some means. 

The people at the islands all have large gardens where they grow all the food that they need, plus some. They plant in rotations, so there is always some food ripening, and more food on the way. Some of the root foods take up to a year to mature, so the garden is always being used. And it is not just most of the people who have gardens; it is everybody! 

Out here in the islands there are no obese people, some of the older women are stout, but with their natural diets, they are all healthy and strong.

We are heading back to Crab Bay, to swim with the turtles, catch the octopuses, and chase the eels. And the children also love Crab Bay because there are so many lizards, that they can catch enough for everyone to have a pet! Even Valiant!