Sunday, April 30, 2006

Kim and Charles took this picture of a coconut plantation. The coconut is a very important part of life and the economy in Vanuatu. Coconuts and coconut milk are, of course, used a great deal in cooking, and there are many bi-products, such as the soap that Kim brought back for me.
But no doubt one of the most notable cash crops for the locals is kava. This is a member of the black pepper family, and the roots are used to produce the liquid, which is touted to have wonderful medicinal value, as well as its obvious intoxicating properties.There are several kava bars in every village. This is where the menfolk gather when they knock off their work for the day. Each bar prepares a large bowl of kava, and when that is all used up, they move on to the next bar. This is their relaxation, unwinding time. The visitor, unused to the intoxicating effects, needs to be more wary!!!

Charles is enjoying a curry in a "food hall" type place. The price is modest, and the beef is beautiful.
In fact, Charles and Kim say that they have never tasted such tender steak as they have in Vauatu. It beats anything they have had anywhere in Norfolk Island, Australia and New Zealand.
The cattle do well there. They are mostly a light coloured horned breed, a fairly slight build. Not sure of the name of the breed.

Kim with a lady from a village outside Santo.
In the week between their visits, the ladies of the family made two dresses for Kim and a shirt for Charles. Kim is wearing one of the dresses...a traditional Mother Hubbard style.They also produced two large woven mats, fringed with brightly coloured wool.
Although they are not well off, the generosity and hospitality of the people is just wonderful.

Talk about a pig in a poke.
This live pig, firmly enclosed in a sack up to its neck, was actually "checked in luggage" on one of the flights between islands!

Two little girls wear the 'smiley face' hair ties that Kim took over to give to the children. She took a number of toys, some given to her by Agnes at the Bounty Centre. They played with them gently and carefully, and when they had finished, attempted to wipe them clean and hand them back!
They still had some hair ties left near the end of their holiday, so they stopped and gave them to some children they saw along the road. The little girls ran off excitedly calling out
"White man give it belong me!"

While they were in the village of Sola on Vanua Lava, a group of Rotarians from the Central Coast of New South Wales came to build an extension onto the Clinic. Charles took the opportunity to lend them a hand.
Most of the buildings in Vanuatu are either built in the traditional bush manner with sticks and natural materials, or they are built with concrete blocks. I suppose the block buildings are stronger in cyclonic conditions, and are not affected by the dampness and heat. Meanwhile, the traditional buildings can be easily and cheaply replaced if necessary.

This is the building that the team from Norfolk Island built at Port Patteson about twelve years ago. It was intended as a church, but is the headquarters of the Fysher Young Training School, where the boys learn practical skills such as carpentry.
Nearby is the Edwin Nobbs Training School where young men are trained for the ministry.

The people in Sola and Port Patteson (which is about 1/2 an hour away in the launch) are very conscious of their links with Norfolk Island and, of course, the Melanesian Mission.
While Kim and Charles wee there, anyone who had a T-shirt or anything with Norfolk Island on it diplomatically wore it most of the time!
The priest from the area who spent much of his time with Kim and Charles is Father John Coleridge. The names of the Melanesian Mission workers are much revered, and many people still bear names like Patteson today.

1 comment:

allie aller said...

I am so loving reading about your island life, Mary....Ruby and now the villagers have me completely charmed!

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