October 12

We are leaving Vanuatu after 4 months! We have been in the Banks Islands for the last week. We had a very rough overnight passage from Petersen Bay – not expected. I was green and Jordan pulled an all-nighter. “Green Nomad” and “Wind Runner” did the passage at the same time. “Wind Runner” went straight to Waterfall Bay but “Green Nomad” and us went directly to Sola to check out of the country. The anchorage was horrible – very rolly. It was like being at sea still. We stayed overnight and then fled. I was getting green at anchor! We went to Waterfall Bay on the western side of the island and it was lovely. 

“Wind Runner” was at anchor already and was not happy to hear about Sola since they still need to pay a call there to clear out. The village at Waterfall Bay is fairly small, basically an extended family group. The waterfall is fabulous. The waterfall forms a large pool that is delightful to swim in. The chief of the village is nice and is really trying to improve things and make sure the Yachties are happy. Of course they do this to ensure the flow of cash and gifts keep coming in. We are their biggest industry, perhaps their only source of cash.

I gave a gift of kids books to the chief and an “America’s Cup” hat. He asked me to help him with a document that lists prices for meals and other services they offer and lists some general suggestions for Yachties. We (Wind Runner provided the printer) managed to produce 10 copies of each document after we typed it up and corrected grammar/spelling. I was impressed that the chief was so organized. Some Yachties are disappointed to see this as they feel it shows how “destroyed” the Ni-Vanuatu culture is. In actuality they follow custom ways more now because of the positive reinforcement the tourists show by being interested in their dancing and such and it provides them with some sorely needed material goods. I traded old clothes for coconuts and baskets and they were thrilled. I let myself be “taken” in the trade because I see it as a donation. Jordan bought fresh water prawns for a pack of cigarettes! People would come out in canoes to offer various stuff or just to say hello! 

The politics is a bit intense considering the number of people. There is Chief Karely but there are several other “chiefs” he doesn’t recognize as having any authority. In addition, there is a village up the coast a bit which whom they have little interchange. Chief Karely just got elected this summer and he wants to take the Chiefdom back to being hereditary BUT since he has no sons yet he has appointed his nephew from his sister as heir. This has pissed off his brother, Jimmy, who is a real character. The village down the coast (100 yards) was NOT invited to the chief making ceremony (i.e. read as big pig killing event) which was a really big slight and they have their own Chief Patrick who is also not recognized by Chief Kerely. I guess its because there is not much happening OR one could assert that political intrigue is the natural state of man. 

The disappointing thing was that there were very few vegetables. I would ask and they would shake their head and point to the sun and say too much sun – dry up the vegetables. These are people who live right near a huge waterfall! Their idea of gardening is to slash and burn then plant and go a see in a month if anything is growing. Irrigation is out of the question as they have no tools and no understanding of how as their island is usually wet enough. They are not refined enough gourmets to desire vegetables in the dry season and certainly carrying buckets would be way to much work for them. I would say the Ni-Vanuatu people often lack a great deal of energy for enterprise. 

The islands are beginning to fade behind us and I can only think of all the amazing places and lovely people we have met. Vanuatu certainly is one of the most peaceful and traditional islands we have visited.

OFF to Kiribati and the Marshalls! I am dreaming about packages from the states and