There has just been too little time for us to spend in
Vanuatu and it is our great regret because this has become one of our favourite
places. The weather has not been on our side but we are also rushing through in
order to make our deadline in Darwin.
One of the special things for us here has been to see
the virtually untouched rainforest, everywhere else we have been great acres of
it have been stripped out for various purposes. Here, apart from in the major
towns and a few areas that produce beef, the people live with the rainforest and
work their plantations along side it.
Low impact agriculture.
When sailing past these islands there are no bare
hillsides, the villages are hidden and some inland are impossible to find
without a good local guide. A number of these more isolated villages do not
welcome visitors as they have suffered in the past from foreign diseases and
gained no benefit from outsiders as they pursue their traditional way of life.
Malakula in particular has lots of
extremely isolated villages where the people still practice magic and related
ceremonial with masks and herbage. In some villages the men still wear penis
gourds and little else. There are several anthropological studies going on here
and in some of the other islands. On this island alone there are 28 different
languages....in an island about twice the size of the Isle Of Wight. It all
feels fascinating but for us to push into this privacy and isolation would feel
uncomfortable and voyeuristic much as we would like to see a way of life which
seems doomed to end with modern pressures for development.
have no idea if anyone lives here on Hat Island:
It seems that one way Vanuatu aims to improve its
economy as malaria is brought under control is to develop its tourism. There is
very little compared with other south Pacific countries we have visited but
already one can pay to visit accessible villages which put on shows of custom
dancing and traditional displays. They need the revenue for health and education
but what a complex conundrum to manage for a country that has only lightly been
touched by consumerism and where the accepted way of life is one of communal
support and care rather than improving the lot of the
One great asset the
people have is their innate language ability. Even the most humble people in the
towns speak 3 or 4 languages, their tribal tongue, Bislama, the pidgin English
seen on this roadside hoarding, official English and/or French.