Here are a few pictures
from our initial visit to the Island of Tanna. We had an amazing few
days with the incredibly welcoming and friendly families in the village of
Port Resolution, close to the anchorage on the Eastern side of the
island. We were extremely lucky as the timing of our visit coincided
with a huge ceremony to celebrate the circumcision of four young
boys. After being circumcised the boys, who were about 7 or 8, go into
the bush for a month to live away from their families and learn to become
men. They're accompanied by an older teenage boy who helps look
after them and as I understood it food parcels were smuggled out to them
but they weren't allowed to see their Mums. The celebration we were
present for was to welcome them home so there was great excitement and as
you can imagine lots of tears from the mothers!
We also managed to fit in
a trip to Mount Yasur, Tanna's volcano. Where else in the world can
you stand on the crater rim of a magnificent, and violently active volcano
watching huge lumps of molten rock being flug high into the air
without any kind of barrier or health and saftey warning
to get in the way.
Yassur in the as seen from the boat.
Our night time visit to the volcano was truely awesome, if a little
frightenning. The noise of the explosions and the feel of the heat on your
face were extraordinary. Watching the boulders of lava crash
down on the opposite side of the crater we really hoped the wind
wouldn't change direction.
Back in Port Resolution
and preparations for the celebrations were well underway with huge teams of
women making enormous piles of 'laplap', a special dish of taro, yam or manioc
mixed with coconut milk and baked, wrapped up in leaves, into a kind
of cake. For this special occasion the laplap was filled with chicken
or pork - tasty!
Even the kids were
working hard - here they are making plantain puree, which will also be made into
The celebration began
early in the morning with huge piles of gifts being assembled in the
Nakamal. These were exchanged between the families of the four boys and
brough by visitors and other family members from neighbouring villages.
The piles contained masses of food - lots of yams and taro, then mats and cloths
and baskets. Massive kava roots were carried in next, followed
by pigs, goats and even a couple of cows, which were duely
The women and the girls
were all wearing fantastic costumes - beautiful grass skirts which had
been specially painted in bright colours and feathers in their hair - and yes,
there seemed to be a lot of tinsel! Everyone was pretty excited as the party was
almost about to begin.
The boys arrive in a
procession of men, being shielded from view, they can't quite say hello to their
The boys with their
mentor are given breakfast and all the women are finally allowed to
greet them, giving gifts of food and treats of biscuits. I had made a cake for
them so I was allowed to join the line up.
The women forming the
outer circle of a traditional custom dance.
Charles with his
Mum Leah and some of the family.
...And that was just the
morning. The evening celebrations carried all night. Tom joined the
men for some kava and was looking a little odd and sounding rather unlike
himself by the time the women were allowed back to join in. I spent the
afternoon with Leah and her eldest daughter Jacobeth who cooked and
enormous laplap specially for us. Once enough kava had been consumed everyone
put their costumes back on and the dancing started. By this time many more
people had arrived in the village and as the night went on the circle of dancers
in the centre of the Nakamal got bigger and bigger.