This could be a lo-o-o-ong post. It was a long day, of celebrations for Vanuatu's 33rd year of independence. We were really just so proud that our NiVan community chose to hold the celebrations at the Nakamal and at Devon House.
The party started in the morning, but the preparations had started long before. There was food to prepare, particularly the lap-lap, which is an island dish of mainly cassava and meats.Quite a few were busy the evening before, washing and peeling vegetables like taro, kumera, potatoes and pumpkin, and warming up the rocks in the fire.
The day before, the marquee goes up and the chairs are set out.
Kim D.has helped out with a sound system.
Early the next morning, everyone is there to get things ready. There are festive balloons to blow up, lights to string up too.
The Nakamal looks ready for a party!
The chicken pieces are pre-boiled over the bunia fire ready for the barbecue lunch.
People have arrived early and are enjoying the preparations.
Then Alan, who has been the main organiser, addresses us and thanks all who have helped with the planning, the preparations and the provision of food and other items.
Rev Chris has happily agreed to take part, and he gives us a message about David and Goliath, comparing it to the way that Vanuatu has overcome many struggles and difficulties, and can look forward to the future with hope and confidence.
The girls were asked to wear island dress! Ernia and Tracey are right in the spirit of things..
We sing a hymn and the Vanuatan National Anthem
And then Julie and Devenie raise the Vanuatu and the Norfolk flags on the bamboo poles that have been prepared for the occasion.
It is a beautiful mild winter's day and quite a few people have come to join us.
Meanwhile, the barbecue is underway
This is going to be a great day for the children.
Bicycle built for two!
Everyone enjoys the lunch on the lawn.
Preparations are well underway for the evening. These fish, (caught by John) and the larger cuts of meat will be cooked in the ovens of a nearby hotel.
The parcels of lap-lap and island foods are wrapped in banana leaves ready for the ground oven.
It is fascinating to watch the preparation. Those spnes that Betty is removing from the centre of the banana leaves will be used to wrap the parcels.
Everyone helps in the process.
The NiVans have done this all their lives....
Much of the women's work has fallen to Dianne and Betty - and they have done a magnificent job. Sadly, our lovely Del, Alan's wife, is back in Vanuatu, and we miss her so much.
While we outsiders are happy to take photos
Alexon is the youngest one of the community, and he is having a great day!Digby also enjoys anything going on at the Nakamal...is it the plentiful morsels he always finds around the fire?
The games begin, courtesy of Kim. Everyone lines up to "throw the sponge"...
Charles is the first victim.
Then the older ones join in
And Charlene is a good sport this time.../
Next there is a Limbo competition.
Bevenie proves she is by far the bendy-ist!
Now, it was just so good to see those kids playing really happily together outside the whole day, with no TV or digital games.
The bike and scooter wheels were going round the whole day long. There was always a driver, a passenger and a "pusher."
Lined up for the three legged race! By this time some more kids had joined us.
Lots of giggles and tumbles!
There were games for the grown ups, and Petanque (Boules)was the favourite...
The loose dust around the Nakamal provided a good "ring".
By the late afternoon, we were all feeling very relaxed
It was time to bring the food parcels out from the bunia oven
How's this for a set of giant tongs???
And the kids kept playing, their energy was amazing...
By dusk, the food was ready on the tables under the marquee. It smelled wonderful...and tasted good too!
The numbers had grown considerably by this time, and it was lovely to have so many to share in the happy occasion. But there was an enormous quantity of delicious food to help fill all those stomachs - and plenty left over for the next day.
We sing grace.....
Some of the kids (and one dog) find their way to "Granny and Grandad's" bedroom - the lure of the TV was getting too much as the little bodies started to grow weary
But outside, the special cake was ready. Although it was a special "Independence Day" cake, there were three candles for the three birthdays this week - Julie's, Charlene's and mine!
The little ones were the first to line up for yummy cake!
Then it was back to the TV.
But the party went on outside. Danny brought along his karaoke.
Our Charlene has a very beautiful voice...
In the kitchen some of the girls help to clean up the dishes.
How's this for an activity late at night?
Now that was more than 12 hours of partying - and for some it went on the next day!But what lovely memories we will have of these happy hours spent with lovely people!