Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Mon 8 Jul 2013 20:22
Most folk that disentangel themselves from the hampster wheel we call western culture to go sailing long term need a Catalyst. Our catalyst arose after a rather difficult situation fund raising for our village school. The 'Art auction', that a team of wonderful folk worked tirelessly towards, turned in to being a bit of a poison chalice. However like most things in life there has been a wonderful silver lining. Having been rather distressed by all the small village back biting it helped us make the decision to leave the bureaucracy behind and set sail.

One particular contribution to our Auction was from photographer, Bob Marchent, who had sail to Vanuatu some 15 years ago. He donated a magical photo of a tribe who inhabited a Banyan tree. It has been the inspiration for our visit to Vanuatu. In fact it's perhaps the main reason we've spent so long getting here. We have always been insistent that we needed to give this little known about group of 83 islands a considerable amount of time. We now know we just might have made the right decision.

Next mission in Cargo Cult rich Tana is to find said banyan tree. What also came to dawn was the fact that this same tribe that worship Prince Regent, Prince Philip. The BBC made a much talked about 'fly on the wall' documentary some years ago and flew a group of 5 chiefs,with there local interpreter from the isolated interior to the UK and had them travel the country and stay with three stereo typical modern day families from different socio/economic groups.

It was only by chance that we arrived here armed with a copy of the royal wedding of Kate and Will, Zinnia new obsession (we've been out of it so long we'd not even seen a photo of the event, till we reach NZ). So armed with laptop we found another if not more ropy old four wheel drive and made our way up to the this mountain top village. Again Cosmo found the drive super thrilling, whilst it all proved a little too much for Z after getting stuck and the radiator melting down for the second time. We got our and walked whilst the boys fiddled about trying to unstick the wheels and cool thing down with buckets of water that magically appeared in the arms of young boy out to the jungle.

On arrival we where treated like all other jobbing tourists. These guys have obviously got this tour down to a fine art, having practiced it for many a year. They are famous for there Kustom and have finally come to profited handsomely from having rejection the white mans religion and all other restraint that where enforced with a conversion to Christianity. I don't mean that with any amount of cynicism. I find it hugely heartening to find that at least one small enclave managed to resist the promises and enforcements of the Mission work over the past few hundred years. So many of the islands we've visited have very little understanding of there ancestral beginning due to the blanket effect of Christianity.

From Gambier where the evil catholic priest managed to reduce the population of these remote island by a significant amount due to his often violent opposition of Pacific culture. Everywhere we have visited costly western dress for many hundreds of years has replaces traditional natural fibers. Vanuatu appears to be the only place we've visited thus far that didn't totally concede Pious european and american missionaries, opting to keep a traditional education of the bush and praise to the harvest of the various tubers, rather than the class room. Still today this is, just, being held at arms length. It couldn't have been an easy option over the years to cave in, so we have huge respect for these people.

Anyway, as I was saying......

Having gone through the motions and paid the money we then had a chance to talk with the folk and ask if perhaps they might like to see 'Queen Philip' as he is known here present at his grandsons wedding. It was a complete hit. I'd bought with us a box full of flapjack just to finish of the portable Philip experience. Two hours later our driver was getting a little agitated that we'd kept him longer than the norm so we had we left with a bundle of lovely seed and pig tusk necklaces. With the promise that the following day our very eloquent young guild would walk the 2 hr track and visit us on our Yacht, the first time anyone from his village had experience anything other than boarding the rusty old trade boat.

On return to Lanakal we hooked up with the Paramount chief of Tanna, Colin's mate Chief Yappa, who we'd given a tuna to the day before. Again we sat through another couple of hours of royal wedding but this in turn made our trip to Tanna something we'll never forget. Despite not speaking a word of English he we managed to spend a great deal of time with him and his family. I think we all feel he is a good man to lead a island if not nation. We are with out a doubt going back to spend time with the Kustom king.