2019 The Leaving of Vanuatu
The Leaving of Vanuatu
The leaving took the form of two lovely evenings in company, the first three photos show the view from the Banyan Beach Bar as the sun set. We hadn’t been there before and this visit was to help young Meg celebrate her 50th Birthday. She and her husband had motored through the entire visiting yacht fleet and asked everybody to join them at 4.00pm for Happy Hour sundowners. What they thought would take an hour to do, keep them busy for nearly three hours of clinging onto boat hulls chatting to the fellow yachties.
We sat on comfy settees watching the tenders that were tied to the banyan tree branches bob up and down while we sipped our cocktails and passed the evening with chat and tales of our similar lives.
Rob’s back went into spasm later that evening as he winched the dinghy up, so we had a quiet day on board the next day with him taking the max dose of Ibufrin to reduce and limit the swelling and Paracetamol and Codeine to deal with the pain.
He managed to limp ashore the next day, ‘carefully’, as we had a pre-planned meeting for a coffee with Steph of the Sharm Foundation, remember we handed over the school clothes a while ago and Rod her husband to say ‘Goodbye’ and present another bag of school stationary that I had found in the top of my wardrobe. Wonderful, even more space for me to fill! The re-opening of the Manua School, where the latest Foundation project was nearing completion, had sadly for us been put back again to the first week of September, so we would miss it.
They are both concerned about the future of Vanuatu’s youngsters. There is a high birth rate of which a big proportion are babies born to single mothers, and 45% of the population is under 15 years of age. What to do with all the young lads that are leaving school with no job prospects? Rod understandably foresees social issues such as gangs and a continual erosion of social stability.
Steph set up a project to provide young men with chain saws and the necessary training on how to use them so they could saw fallen trees into marketable lengths of wood, but then the chief of the village put a stop to the idea for a variety of ‘reasons’. Many of the supplies sent to schools ‘disappear’ and rather than share any excess of commodities schools will stockpile them.
Many chiefs are now very wealthy from selling, for example, land rights, business licences etc and there are many instances of financial aid not getting to its intended destination. When we were travelling around we rarely met any chiefs, they were always “Away” of “Not here at the moment”. Sometimes if they are old or ill they move in to town to be near, for example, health facilities. Others are so wealthy they live in apartments on the Gold Coast of Australia leaving their village way of life open to abuse from lack of authority.
A worrying prospect for the future of this beautiful country, especially when the government is more interested in accepting massive infusions of money from foreign countries like China; thus creating a destructive dependency from which they cannot possibly recover without giving away the very essence of the country and what its natives stand for.
The next day we victualled up at the Bon Marche and spent the evening with Mark and Jill at the Village Café, a favourite spot of cruisers not least because it is such a pretty place with beautiful foliage covered with flowers. They have a delightful and unique gift for their customers which takes place on Wednesdays. Buy a Mojito cocktail at 3.00pm it will cost 300vu, at 4.00pm it will cost 400vu and so on until happy ‘hour’ is over at 6.00pm. So we booked a table for 5.00pm.
I remember the food was good but what sticks in my memory was the dessert; how to make a delicious dessert with virtually no preparation. On an oblong white dish a tiny cup of expresso at one end, a goblet of home-made vanilla ice-cream in the middle and a little glass of hazelnut liqueur at the other end. A few sprigs of mint and you have instant sophistication. Nice and easy to make ‘seconds’ too and limitless potential for alternatives!
I became tour guide the next day, showing Rob around Erakor Island by way of a farewell and to make up for his missing out because of his back, which was responding to the drugs slowly.
Then it was time to clear out and in the process we met a New Zealand couple, Rob and Carolyn who are bringing their brand new French built catamaran, Gallivanta, home from Perth to where she was delivered by ship. They have not yet decided whether they will go directly home to NZ or spend some time in Australia first.
Carolyn recommended we spend a night in Mele Bay, just around the corner from Port Vila to give us a nice direct run out to the open sea instead of being concerned about the depth of water over the reef near our mooring.
Once safely anchored in the little bay, in a brisk wind, we had coffee with them and then went back aboard the brand new and sparkling Gallivanta for sundowners. Along with another couple we all decided on a ‘Ken’ start at around 6.00am the next morning, but it would be after a roly and disturbed night as the swell made its presence felt among the moored yachts.
Rob and I like a mid-way break between the buzz of islands life to getting our mindset ready for the solitude of the open sea and we were grateful to Carolyn for her suggestion.
To add to our friendly human departure we had one of a cetacean kind the next morning as we lost the sight of Port Vila behind its protective headland. Coincidentally Rob and I were looking at exactly the same spot in the water when a young humpback did a full body breach just a few metres away from Zoonie. Wonderful, although I did wonder if there were more with the same intentions nearer to us or even directly underneath!