After a very enjoyable time in Gaua, it was time to leave and catch up with Daniel and Andrea on Rehab, who had moved round to Vureas Bay on Vanua Lava (after Daniel had picked up Andrea from airport at Sola on the SEed side of the island)It was a lovely quick sail, of 22miles, to the north, with the wind forward of the beam
There was Rehab, anchored in the corner of the baya lovely anchorage with the clouds rolling down through a gap in the mountainsthe water temperature was now 27C, and the air temperature fluctuated between 26 and 27C.
I was in need of a rest after my full-on time at Gaua, luckily Daniel and Andrea were conducive to the idea of me suppling 3 crayfish and they would cook them into dinnerI spent the next day updating my blog posts (making the most of the internet access, after having none for a week) while they met up with the villagers ashore.
Their cultural festival after being cancelled was now back on, but only for a single day, in 6 days time. So we decided to use that time to go up to a place called Waterfall, 9 miles up the coast.
It feels surreal sailing in this amazing country, were I don’t see any other boats, except Rehabit was rather obvious why this place was called Waterfallwe anchored just around from the point the waterfall fell off and as we have become use to, we were almost immediately approached by the locals in dugouts, wanting to trade with us (after they had asked if we had caught any fish)Tannis had left some cloths behind when she left, which I traded with Genevieve for bananas and papayasa net ball got me a kilo of freshwater prawn some boys approached us in a couple of dugoutsthe offer of a trade of a soccer ball for 5 drinking coconuts, has one of the dugouts heading for the shore, as quick as I have ever seen a dugout move.
Returning with 5, fresh off the tree, drinking coconuts, prepped for drinking
then it was time to go ashore and check out the waterfallgo for a swim and meet Patterson, the local chiefPatterson’s father had dies 6mts earlier, his grave was just beside the houses in the villageevery day it was freshly decorated with hibiscus flowers.
There is no documented land title in remote Vanuatu, by burying one’s relatives gives the next generation ownership, as their relatives are buries on their land.
Pastor Nixon, the angelical minister, had a hole in his dugout that needed mending, so Daniel and I set off on the SUPS with our tools to fix it. We even had an escort, for the paddle up the coast to his homethe hole was a bit bigger than I was anticipating but we cut out a piece of sheet aluminum to cover the holeand bolted it on with washer plates on the insideA few hours later we retuned in the tender, for Pastor Nixon to guide us further along the coast to see a spectacular waterfall on the way back we pulled into a tricky rocky cove, though the waves, avoiding the coral headsfrom were he cut a path for us with his bush knifeto a cave, were a few hundred years pervious people had carved the spirits of those they had killed into the cave wall
the vegetation here is very lush, with creepers running up the cliff facethe next day was Sunday, so Andrea and I decided to go to church. A half hour marathon, of paddling ashore, navigating the rocks at the overflow from the pool, at the bottom of the waterfall then a 15minute walk to find the church
and Pastor Nixon, resplendent in his vestments
The word had got around that I was the go too man for dugout repairs, so Gordon asked me to fix his colander, which took over half a tube of Sikaflex.I took the villagers photo for the frameIt was more one big extended family, the lady in pink (middle left) is the old chief’s widow, the boys are her sons and the woman are either her daughters or daughter-in-laws I washed my cloths in the run off from the waterfall Then Manual and Carolyn gave me a guided tour of their garden up above the waterfall, which enable me to see the waterfall before the water fell
Manuel showed me the traps, he hand makes, to catch the yummy fresh water prawns, I was traded forthe track down was the “short cut” (luckily the mud washed out of my pants without staining)It was getting close to the time for the cultural festival in Veritas Bay, time to leave this lovely anchorage and go southwith Ureparapara, our stop after next, 20miles to the northit is called the “Pacman island”, due to its shape, from the wall of the extinct volcano collapsing on one side Gordon paddled half a mile out to sea, to tell me that his canoe, had stopped leaking and thank mewe anchored up in Veritas BayAs we had become use to, very promptly the dugouts were out, wanting to know if we had caught a fish, and looking for stuff to trade. Paramount Chief Godfrey’s son was out looking for chainsaw oil, the closest I had was the old oil from a engine motor change. As we had also become accustom to, they will take all our empty wine bottle, to carry water in I went ashore too see Stuart, working magic with the chain sawmaking benches and a raised stage, for the festivalthey were going to a lot of trouble to make the festival a special occasion
John showed us how he caught fruit bats. 20, 1.5mts lengths of fishing line with a hook on the end at 25omm centers, pulled up in front of a tree, full of fruit that the bats were feeding on (probably would not rate a tick of approval from the RSPCA, back home)these people are very ingenious in their use of locally sources materials. This is their version of a collapsible camping tableon the morning of the festival the heavens open and refused to closeit usually does not rain at this time of the year.
another boat with 4 people on board had arrived and Eric, an engineer from Minnesota, who was on the island for 2 years with USAID working on water and sanitation. He had lost 20kgs since he arrived 3 months prior Daniel and Andrea got the royalty reserved stallThen it was time for the cultural dancing.
First the men
I was given the decoration, which had everyone referring to me as “chief” from then on then the woman danced
next it was time to honour their guests (us)with a lay of flowersthe woman showed us some of their traditional cooking techniques
There is an interesting story attached to the two young children in Cristina (John’s wife) lap, one is hers the other is her grandson. One of the local boys got their eldest daughter pregnant at 15 (for which the boy went to goal). The daughter subsequently married a man from anther island, but it is not expected that he should bring up another man’s child, so the child stayed with his grandparents.
One of Cristina grandparents was Australian and another of her daughters, had the maddest hair and the biggest smileI have been roped into joining the organising committee for the cultural festival next year, so any cruising yacties reading this, write into your dairy , an amazing 3 day cultural festival in Vanua Lava, first week of September in 2019.