The natives aren’t revolting

..as it turns out, 5 litres of petrol gets you a huge bunch of bananas and several pawpaw, which we’re still munching on. Huge banana bunches look fantastic swinging from the aft archway, but of course ripen suddenly and all at once, so we’re plunged into a diet of bananas, bananas and more bananas. Good job we all like them. Rebecca’s mildly concerned about potassium poisoning.

The boys had clearly had enough of passage-making, so set out in search of a place where we could stop for awhile. Initial plan was to stop at Ambryn Island, and we dropped anchor off the small village of Ranvetlan in black sand about an hour’s sail North of Ambryn’s active volcano, which constantly belches foul smoke that other cruisers warn discolours rigging and needs to be avoided. First job at each anchorage as a matter of course is to visit the village chief and ask permission to be there, which we duly did. All good, except that the chief warned us about sharks. A free-dive on the reef the following day showed good fishlife, but also one of the aformentioned teethy critters, and we wondered about allowing the kids to swim freely here (this being one of a couple of Vanuatuan islands with a wee history of attacks). A night of wild swinging with big gusts of volcanic ash-laden wind descending from the mountains cemented our decision, and we set off in search of a safer bay.

And here we are, a week into our stay at Asanvari Bay at the South-Western tip of Maewo Island, Vanuatu. The bay is about 500 metres wide, with a huge tumbling waterfall on one side that provides freshwater to the village and a wonderful spot for showering and washing clothes. The other side of the bay has a coral shelf leading to a small blonde sand beach, where the village buildings start. Chief Nelson sits regally outside his thatched wooden hut on his throne a blue plastic picnic chair – greeting visitors and running the affairs of the village seemingly without moving. The 600 strong village is scattered through the rainforest that fringes the bay, and has about 100 children at the primary school. No secondary school on the island, so most teenagers get sent off to one of the nearby islands.

This is our boys’ first experience of a developing country, and it’s been fascinating watching them approach it. Full of trepidation and shyness initially, as you’d expect, our first walk around the village attracted a lot of attention, but the boys resolutely refused to respond beyond the requisite hello and my name is. On the 3rd day, with some prompting Luca summoned the courage to talk to the chief without us, and reported back that he’s now his best friend on the island. On the following day they met a cheeky 12 yr old boy Carl at the waterfall who was ranging through the forest gathering food and attempting to shoot things with his slingshot. After hesitant introductions, Carl suggested they go shoot birds (having watched the birds flying around, we figured they’re pretty safe) and Luca and Gabriel disappeared into the forest. They returned a couple of hours later full of stories of Carl climbing tall coconut trees and cracking nuts with a massive machete, now firm friends. And so the ice has been broken.

We met the school headmistress and her husband, who invited us to a feast last night to farewell a couple of teachers. A fantastic example of generosity and of island time. Initial invitation was for 4pm, we arrived an hour later to find things a long way from happening, but hung around happily while the boys played soccer (with their only ball a deflated basketball) and generally larked around. Jacob draws special attention from everyone, it seems long blond curly locks carry huge novelty and both Mums and kids can’t help themselves from touching him. This infuriated him initially, but even he’s starting to warm up to it. Waiting for the feast soon attracted a decent crows of kids, and the soccer game was punctuated by Jacob walking around the village with a train of giggling kids walking in line behind him. This went on for hours until the feast was finally in place around 7pm, by which time Jacob was leading a line of about 20 laughing kids in complete darkness with barely a backward glance.

The headmistress Charity was enthusiastic about Luca joining their eldest class, and he has now met several other kids his age and is loving it. Anything to avoid home schooling lessons, I guess.

..and this is exactly what we came here for: to introduce the boys to another life, and we’re thrilled to see them starting to get into it. We’d be lying if we said that both Rebecca and I haven’t had moments of doubt during the departure preparations and especially during the long passage up here when we’re all sleep-deprived, abit stroppy with each other, and the boys are missing their mates. But it feels like the plan is coming together.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 21:54:35

    You are in an almost untouched paradise. Weather starting to pick up here and next week I am taking a week off to paint our house. While I am doing that I shall let my mind wonder and think about the great time you are all having.

    I was in our lake the other day but couldn’t see any crayfish. Maybe you have a better chance?

    Looking forward to your next update

    xox MMM&B

    Reply

  2. jens
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 05:51:38

    brilliant guys – what a huge life experience – for everyone. And sharks don’t just come in suits eh….

    Tim

    Reply

  3. Dassanayakes
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 07:11:33

    Magic. Love us

    Reply

  4. chan
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 19:22:05

    Love it Fred. I wish we could teleport in there (and spoil it for you!!), and experience what you and the family are doing. Priceless! It takes courage and a resolute belief in your dream. Well done to you both!

    Reply

  5. Arnaud
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 15:05:46

    Hello Nolan family, I finally got around catching up with your news. Great reading and glad to see that you’re all doing well. What a brilliant thing to do! Keep up the news and pictures…good sailing.

    Arnaud

    Reply

  6. Sheila
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 02:28:31

    hi it’s me sheila.
    I found a friend who is helping me do this – this is just a test.

    Reply

  7. Peter Robinson
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 05:15:39

    Hi guys! Loving the Tonga Moon Cruise – inspirational. Keep reporting on those adventures. Can we have more pics please. Love Pete & Kate

    Reply

  8. Jessica Foote
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 21:24:50

    Ahhh you must be in heavan with all those yummy fruits!
    Miss you!!! xxxxx

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: