24 october Tanna Island (VANUATU)

[Stefy]: "We reach the village of Leitouapam, where there is the world's largest banyan tree.
It is huge and continues to grow undisturbed... it covers an area of 200 meters and it is more than 80 meters high with branches that reach up to 100 meters!
It is difficult to determine the age of this majestic tree but a popular story tells that it would have been here already at the mythical arrival of Captain Cook in 1774.
This is a magical place where the mystery has been captured in the real world."

Lizzie takes us to visit the " Tanna Cultural Museum" managed, with great passion, by Jimmy and John; both tell us about the Nekowiar, a ceremony that takes place every three years.
Long preparations, men and women use powder mixed with coconut oil to paint their faces of dark red with yellow and black stripes.
About 200 people are involved in this dance that lasts three days until they offer pigs, kava seeds, grass skirts and laplap (Vanuatu's national dish). The pigs are killed with machetes and a great banquet begins.

[Stefy]: "We explore the nearby market which is held once a week and brings together all the inhabitants of the island. The colors range from deep green vegetables, to orange mangoes, to bright red papayas till bright yellow bananas... in a corner there is a lady who sells a kind of brown rope coiled close in on itself, a Canadian missionary passing over there says that is tobacco!

In Isangel, we visit a small community from the island of Futuna, they welcome us simulating an attack with spears and big sticks, emerging suddenly from the bush.
They show us how they live in the village, how they fish, the arrangement of the huts; they explain that, in the past, when the village chief died, all his wives were buried next to him...

In the late afternoon we take a long walk with Lizzie, Mary, Marie, and their dog, on the beach and then into the jungle of palm trees, coffee, banyan trees and beautiful flowers by the heady scent.
We walk up to a huge tree where hundreds of giant flying rats are perched!
The women beat strongly their hands and soon they start flying all over our heads...

On the way back we stop to collect some wood for the fire; Mark, the only man, carries a whole trunk on his shoulder ...
Shortly after I find myself behind the stoves to learn the famous recipe for pumpkin soup by Lizzie!

The evening draws to a close and there is nothing better than spending it around a bonfire with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks of this amazing and untouched island.
Tanna: thanks for what you give us every day!

From today we also have a local name: Mark is Nalau (ie: share), Stefy is Iawilim (union)."

[Lizzie from Tanna, Vanuatu]: "Do not be sad because it is ending... be happy because it happened!"

25 october Tanna Island (VANUATU)

After a hearty breakfast with all our new friends from Tanna, we walk along the coral beach, we move to the village "Lowanatom" inhabited by the homonym tribe.
They welcome us offering a garland of leaves and flowers before starting the dances and sing their old songs.
They wear colorful clothes and have their faces painted by very bright colors... the same that they leave on our cheeks when they greet us!

This dance is very impressive especially when they begin to clap, in unison, on the pockets of braided rope singing their ancient litanies.

On an old pickup truck, escorted by Lava, we reach the village of Iuianak and Lavinu tribe. We are in the heart of the jungle. Men begin to pound their feet on the ground, the dust rises, women, by exposed breasts and yellow skirts, start jumping, singing the songs of their own tribe. They turn in a circle, the atmosphere is very strong and we are kidnapped by those ancestral rites!

Lava tells us that the van that had to bring us back to the bungalow is broken for some reason but I am not surprised! However it is very pleasant to walk in the jungle with them!

In the afternoon we fly back to Port Vila and we almost miss our flight... I have to struggle hard to convince the pilot to let us board because of our huge delay!
We manage!

26 october Iririki Island (VANUATU)

[Stefy]: "Now we feel at home here, in Port Vila, we go to the supermarket and we already know where, the things we need, are located, in the street we meet people known in the previous days.

After a breakfast of sweet banana, mango juice and coconut biscuits we walk to the port to board inbound Iririki Island!

Today relaxing day! But it doesn’t last long... first we dive with masks, snorkel and fins to snorkel, then on a kayak we circumnavigate the island! It will take us almost an hour!
We look around, everything is blue... under us: corals, sea life that proceeds unchanged for centuries!"

 

But it's time for a cocktail in the shade of a coconut palm... and as the sun, very slowly wanes, we remember to return home!

Tomorrow we fly to Noumea, New Caledonia!

Last week of this amazing journey! We have not organized anything... but no worries!

Thanks Vanuatu!

   
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