No, I have not actualy been travelling any further than the 5 miles by 3 of our little island for nearly 3 years now. But I am always excited to follow the travels of others, and none more than the those of our offspring.
Last month, George, who comes from Vanuatu, decided to return home to Vila for a holiday. His wife Chrissie, and his two girls Julia and Enia, and mother-in-law Edna, had gone a few months before, and George had stayed back here on Norfolk to hold the fort, and to keep an eye on father-in-law Ernie. Sadly, Ernie passed away while his family were away.
Our John decided it would be a good opportunity to make a return visit to Vanuatu himself. He had spent some time there 14 years ago helping build a new cyclone church/school at Port Patteson in Vanua Lava, along with some other Norfolkers. This was where he first met Jimmy, who came to live with John in 2005 for about 6 months, to gain some experience of the wider world.
In this picture, George(left) is shown with his cousin Andre, in the markets at Vila. While he was there, John actually stayed in a hotel in Vila, but he spent quite a bit of time enjoying the wonderful hospitality of George and Andre's family, who live in the village of Melimat, outside Vila. Charles and Kim also experienced the warmth of their welcome and hospitality when they travelled there last year. They do not enjoy much of the conveniences and affluence of the world you and I know, but their warmth and love are in abundance, it would seem.
Up in the islands, the houses were usually built of natural materials.....easily blown down in a storm or earthquake, but also easily rebuilt with the help of friends and family. Nowadays, however, many islanders opt to build themselves a basic, but more sturdy dwelling from concrete blocks. While he is living and working on Norfolk, George is saving to complete his own home in the village. This is the stage it is at currently.George's family live in quite a good house, by Vanuatu village standards, even equipped with a proper kitchen. But they still prefer to cook and eat the traditional way in their outdoor oven, and it was here that the boys were treated to feasts of traditional foods, cooked Vanuatu style. One of their main dished is "lap-lap" in which starchy vegetables such as Yam or taro are ground up, bound with coconut and coconut milk,wrapoped in banana leaves (poor man's foil) and cooked in a sort of cake with meats in the centre.
One of the meats they were served one night was flying fox...I am not sure if John sampled it or not! For the meal, they sat at the other end of the outdoor verandah area, which was covered with clean woven mats. Last year, the family gave Kim and Charles two of these mats to bring home for Bernie and me. But I am afraid that I have not had the years of practice sitting in this fashion on the floor to eat!!Not far from the village there is a magnificent waterfall, where he and George enjoyed a refreshing dip.In a future posting, I will tell you about the week that John and George spent at Sola and Port Patteson in Vanua Lava, which is an hour or two's flight further north!