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Date: 26 Sep 2012 12:27:00
Title: The Island of Tanna - 19 31.436S 169 29.769E

The weather cleared in Anatom and we had two good days to explore, including a visit to Mystery Island. It's a lovely island surrounded with reefs forming the southern boarder of the anchorage. The beaches are lovely white sand and the sea in the lagoon, a deep turquoise colour. So we were able to walk along the beach around the island and snorkel on the reef in the lagoon. The island is all set up for big cruise ships to off load passengers for a day, but after the last one departed, there's not another for a week, so it's deserted.

With 5 yachts arriving on the same day, the villagers organised a cultural evening, demonstrating aspects of their culture, like their traditional costumes and traditional dancing, the evening ending in a meal of local foods. It was a good evening, with everyone joining in the local dancing (or trying to!). The village is very basic, with a dirt track as the 'main road', but a good primary school. Schooling is a priority for the children and they appear to have class grades in the same way as we do at home. Lots of pictures of our time in Anatom (which is also called Aneityum) when we next have internet access.

Our visit to Vanuatu was always planned to be a short one, just to get a flavour of what it's like. Apart from Anatom we wanted to make a quick visit to the next island of Tanna, primarily to see the volcano, Yasur. It's a very active volcano with relatively easy access, and according to all that have seen it, a must do trip. So we left Anatom on Monday and sailed the 50 miles northwest to Port Resolution (just an anchorage - no port!), named by Captain Cook after one of his ships. The original plan had been to visit Tanna and then return to Anatom to check out, but a superyacht arrived here and had arranged for Immigration and Customs to come over from the main town of Lenakel to check them in. We were able to take advantage of this and the officials have checked us out, so when we leave, hopefully at the weekend, but dependent on the weather, we can leave Vanuatu from here in Tanna. It saves a 50 miles bash back to Anatom against the prevailing winds. But back to the volcano. We arranged the visit yesterday afternoon and it was something quite special. The visits are timed for late afternoon, so you can climb the rim of the crater in daylight and watch the volcano erupting as the sun sets. (There are no safety rails here. You are right on the edge looking down into the crater.) It's impressive enough in the light, but when it gets dark, the fiery eruptions against the dark sky are wonderful to watch. Every few minutes the ground shakes, there is an almighty roar and red hot lava explodes high up into the air. It was a lovely night, not a cloud in the sky, but very windy and quite cold. It was a spectacular display and just a little scary - partly due to the fear of a blast of lava coming in our direction and partly due to the fear of being blown over the edge into the crater! The hour drive to the volcano in a four wheel drive truck was an adventure in itself. The road, which is a mud track, is appalling with many big pot holes that often required the driver to stop and ease his way very slowly around them. Coming back in the dark was even more 'exciting'. It was a great evening and worth coming up for. Having come for the volcano, the local village, with houses all constructed of pandanus leaves and most built on stilts is something to see. They have a very basic existance in comparison with the West, but have a well ordered society and a very impressive primary school made of breeze-block built buildings for 100 or so children. Lots more photos when we get internet access.

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