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Published: September 3rd 2009
It's a good thing I've learned not to keep my expectations too high here. The first leg of the journey went pretty much as planned. But after that, pretty much all the plans to visit various bungalows and custom dances started falling through. The tourism office developed their budget for this trip based on the assumption that I would be traveling on the cameraman's yacht without talking with him and on the assumption that the yacht would reach each place in very little time. So turns out after visiting Southwest Bay, Walarano, and the bungalows in Norsup and Lakatoro there was no longer funding for me to go to Ambrym and Paama.
I was traveling with Laura and we got to meet some interesting people on our journey to southwest bay. On the way down to Lambubu on the truck we rode in the back with a Brazilian cameraman and a beautiful TV actress who were shooting some sort of travel video. They were taping the whole ride down and it was quite entertaining as it started raining. The girl would scream at every little bump in the truck and got out her little mirror to fix her makeup while
where we stayed for the night in SW Bay
the rain is pouring and the guy is taping. Anyway that ride seems quite pleasurable for the boat ride we were about to experience. When we got to the wharf there were some tourists and a few volunteers that were coming off the boat coming from southwest bay. They all looked really happy and cheerful like they just had a wonderful time and they were talking about all that was going on there. It was still raining but it was exciting that we were on our way. In the boat it is me, Laura, Edna (from tourism office) , Marcus (the cameraman), the actress, and 2 boat drivers. After about 10 minutes the wind and the rain is really starting to pick up. We're all pretty much in good spirits except for the girl even though we're traveling really slow and the waves are crashing over the sides. At every bump the actress is screaming "Dios Mio!" and telling the driver:" I hate Vanuatu! I am never coming back! Are you sure its ok? Are you sure? " The drivers said on a good day it would take about 1 1/2 hours to reach Southwest Bay by boat but today
it would take about 3. So we are traveling like this for hours and are soaking wet and shivering cold. We get to a point of land where I had thought we were going to and I asked if we were almost there, and was informed that no actually its that point down there. ohhh. Then we get to the point where we think he was pointing to but turns out we are actually headed to a point that you couldn't even see before. Juts of land kept appearing in the distance as we crept along and it seemed we weren't really going anywhere. Finally after about 3 hours, the driver says "See that point of land, we are going there." But that's just where we turn to get to Southwest Bay. So after about 4 hours of a very uncomfortable long, cold, and miserable boat ride we finally arrive on shore. We all get off the boat onto shore and look up. Now we have to climb a hill which is straight up and covered in mud to get to the place where we're staying. Very slowly we made it up the hill now cold, wet, and muddy and
Dance to harvest more yams
anxious to have a warm bucket shower and dry clothes. The lodge was a cute little place, very basic, we just relaxed, watched a movie and drank some tea. Walking ouside the next day it seemed we were in a completely different place. The sun was shining and the water was beautiful shades of blue and green.
Southwest Bay was beautiful and we got to see about 4 custom dances and have a delicious lunch there. All of the custom dances were entertaining but they were all pretty much the same: the dancers were carrying some big decorated sticks and sort of jogging around with them. Each time the sticks got bigger and the colors changed. One of the dances was to make coconut trees bear more fruit, another to harvest more yams, another a custom story of a wooden boy who came to life, and the other i forget.
It was interesting because there were a lot of tourists there traveling by yacht and it was interesting to meet them and see how different they live compared to life as a Peace Corps volunteer. There was one yacht we called the superyacht that had a
crew of 8 with matching crisp uniforms for 4 passengers. They had flown in all sorts of food for them to eat on the boat, which seemed so ridiculous. The boat ride back to Lambubu on a good day was actually about 2 1/2 hours. We were also with Italian tourists we had met the day before who were very entertaining and animated. When our little speedboat arrived to the "wharf" where we would take a truck back to town (that should have been there), they were loading bags and boxes of cream cheese, yogurt, and all sorts of rare that you can only find in Port Vila and for a high price that must have cost a fortune to send. When we were getting off our boat, one of the yacht workers called to us from his little boat. "Sorry guys, we took your truck back into town. It should be back within an hour!" They would take our boat. So not wanting to wait around for an hour we started to walk. We walked for about an hour and then saw a truck to take us back to town...
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