SIX DAYS IN PARADISE
A Safe Landing
Day One: Snorkling and Diving on Vanuatu
An Island in the Making
This coral reef is slowly being built into an island. The tiny sandy beach that can be seen is a popular spot for kayaking and scuba diving. The snorkler or diver just might find Nemo among the reefs of Vanuatu. There are over 20 unique dive sites to view amazing marine life.
The Konanda, formerly and island trader, was badly damaged by Cyclone Uma on 1987. Later, the Konanda was sunk as a dive wreck. An excellent wreck for a first wreck dive or for the wreck addict. Sitting upright on a sandy bottom in 26 meters, still intact, the Konanda is a wreck divers delight. Safe penetration is possible in he holds, cabin and bridge areas, making it a fun dive
Tours are available on line and on Vanuatu. Paradise at it s best.
Day Two: The Mele Falls
Day Two -Climbing the Mele Cascades to the Waterfall, Efate Island
The forest was cool and at every turn there was a cascade as the river flowed to the ocean. Rope fences were provided to help people cross the shallow river but sometimes the ropes were very slack and it was quite dangerous to hang on to the ropes thinking they would help. A stout climbing pole was as good. Other tourists were always happy to lend a helping hand for people and kids who were a bit apprehensive. At every turn there was a postcard scene. Cameras ran hot trying to captures the post card scenes.
The water was falling faster and the rocks steeper, crowds of tourists had braved the rushing water to reach the base of the Mele Falls .For the tourist who wants to reach the falls but walking through all that rushing water is terrifying so local men employed by the tourist operators help the little old ladies , children, anyone daring to leave their comfort zone.
The hike to the Mele Falls is quite a hike and one needs to be fit or divide the distance in morning tea and lunch. No bookings are needed for this event. After the climb a meal at the well appointed restaurant offering island food to celebrate success
The last great cascade to ascend.
Out of my Comfort Zone
Truly, climbing up to the Mele Falls took me out of my comfort zone. Had I been at home I would never have dared to do something so daring. It is good to be challenged to do something far outside our comfort zone. We become stronger people
Day Three: The Fire Walker
Day Three: A Cultural Experience
The cultural experience is exciting. Each step into the jungle is fraught with a challenge by warriors. When white man first visited it must have been terrifying to be escorted through the forest, realizing the cooking pot might be at the end.
Fishing practices are explained and demonstrations of how to make the nets shown. Preparation of food is demonstrated and the preserving of food for when a cyclone hits and all is blown away. The villagers have something to keep them going until their garden begin producing.
A group of dancers prance into the clearing and menacing visitors with spears and capturing them. All for a good photo shoot rather than the cooking pot
The finale is the fire walk by the chief. the fires has been alight for hours and the coals red hot. The fire walker has someone prepare his feet all the while he is preparing himself mentally. Finally, he takes the walk.
An experience not to be missed. The tours are conducted by the locals and cost of these excursions are not expensive.
In The Out Door Kitchen
Efate Island, the Capital of Vanuatu is Port Vila
Day Four: The Secret Garden Cultural Outdoor Centre
Day Four: The Secret Gardens
The Secret Gardens are only accessed by booking a tour guide through the Mele Maart Cultural Centre. A European woman and her husband took up land on the top of this mountain and hired an artist from America to landscape her garden. There are acres of garden featuring plants of every kind from around the world. There are miles of paths and low walls built of coral stones, laid out in circles, mazes and stairs. It is an incredible garden. The lady and her husband built a dream home in the midst of the garden, a truly tropical paradise. Many European people have made their homes on Vanuatu to escape tax and to live cheaply and enjoy a tropical Eden. A whole day could be easily spent at the Mele Maart Cultural Centre. Great food available, wonderful views of the Island, tours of products made on the island to create jobs and help self support the Ni Vans.
It is hard to realize that Vanuatu has no depth of soil only coral. The soil is probably volcanic ash and broken coral and sand washed up by tides and storms as a covering from which seeds clung and finally grew until a jungle existed..
Presenting Island made cosmetics at the Mele Maart Cultural Centre
Day Five: Shop Till you Drop at the Markets
The Market: Day Five
Market Hall the centre of Port Vila. Beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables were on sale and all kinds of bush food as well. Seafood was abundant flies were a plenty and women were just waving towels over the chicken and salad portions on sale.
Poultry was sold live in small cane cages. A huge coconut crab was rendered helpless by having his deadly pincers lashed together. He had to lay there fuming, I guess, waiting to be bought and cooked.
When the heat and and hard work became to much the women would stretch out on the floor behind their stalls and have an afternoon nap.
There was always a new scene, a new dress, blouse, trinket, fruit to buy.The colour and activity was invigorating.The market is open 7 days from daylight to dark. \It is a must to just wander through and soak up island atmosphere
My Holiday in Melanesia
I discovered there were more than 100 languages in Vanuatu, but the main three are Bislama, French and English. Efate had been governed by the French until Vanuatu became a Republic. Even today there is a strong French influence in the city of Port Vila. The population of Vanuatu is 221,506.
I was fascinated by the life style of the island, it was a mixture of the 21st Century and cultural practices. The buildings were a jumble of modern and 18th Century and Cultural. Vanuatu was certainly a melting pit of nationalities and would continue to be so because I learnt that Port Vila is on the itinerary of the big luxury cruises.
Driving in Port Vila meant taking your life into your hands, even crossing the street was a hazard. After a lifetime driving on the left hand side of the road to travel on the right hand side was a nightmare. However, there didn't seem to be many accidents
AT THE MARKET poem by Gwenneth Leane
Colour, atmosphere and voices
Crowds ebb and flow like a river
The market is in full swing.
Stallholders stand and tote
The beauty, joys and uses
Of their wares
Bags fill; goods change hands
A new home is found
Outcasts become idols and treasures
The buyer counts his purchases
The seller counts his money
Each sigh with satisfaction
Food Glorious Food
Day Six: Oldest Turtle in the World
Day Six: The Turtle Farm
The Turtle Farm is another must see. The farm has been created to help the islanders become self supporting. Turtle husbandry is taught. Big tanks house tiny hatchlings through to adults when they are released into the ocean or sent to another facility.
There are places to stay and a restaurant or shed provided for a picnic, also a souvenir shop.
More Things to Do and Visit on Vanuatu
Take a walk through Independence Park to the national Museum of Vanuatu, a suitably chill monument to Vanuatu's history. housed in a traditional wooden house with staff languidly attending to duties with local songs on the radio.
Visit exhibits of tamtams, carved upright slit drums, and sandroing, sand drawings, as well as the facinating story of Chief Toi Mata. The Chief was buried on Eretoka Island along with a number other chiefs and their wives whom were not dead at the time.
Take a tour around the island, this will take about 6 hours. There will be resorts to visit, a museum of American memorabilia from World War Two. This tour exposes day to day living where laundry is still done in the river.
You will see the cemetries where the graves are highly decorated.
Celebrating Farewell by Joining Beach party goers to watch the fire-dancers
Time has passed and it feels like I've never visited Vanuatu. If it were not for the many photographs to verify my trip it could be just my imagination telling me I flew overseas.
As I pore over the numerous photographs the memories revive. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to visit Vanuatu.