Tanna – Village Life
We just got back to Port Vila from Tanna a few days ago, a small island in the far south of Vanuatu, where we stayed with Pastor Peter and his family in their village, Lowniel. This is them, such beautiful people. Peter and Ansi – their kids Lavenda, Ngangnghang, Ellis and baby Nehri
They took really good care of us, but also made sure that we tasted the village way of life. As Ansi, Peter’s wife, would say, ‘the real Vanuatu experience’. And it sure was.
Since Peter and Ansi speak English and were quickly teaching us Bislama, we enjoyed being the only white people around and immersing ourselves in village life. We spent a whole day helping Peter’s extended family ‘slash and burn’ a new garden – which was educational but exhausting! Brad ended up with blisters on his hands from chopping down trees with a machete, and Elyse some how managed to get 3 separate hairy caterpillar stings while scratching charcoal off fire-roasted taro with a piece of broken beer bottle. The itchy grub rashes keep spreading if you scratch it, and gave Elyse misery for 3 days. No matter how much we trained before our trip, we became all too aware how weak white people are, since the locals didn’t seem to even blink an eye. Even Ansi, left her 2 month old baby with Lavenda and spent hours cutting down the jungle!
Brad was thrilled to use his photonic engineering expertise in fixing Peter’s solar power problems… (and many other broken electronic devices)
Pastor Peter taught us a lot about translation, which he has begun on his own language, and many aspects of Ni-Vanuatu culture, which we’ll write more about as we reflect on it over the next few months. He also took us to a huge circumcision celebration (more on that later).
We hiked to another village (and different language group) where an American family have been living and doing translation and literacy work. We stayed overnight with them and really enjoyed hearing about their work and their various challenges over the years. They are pretty amazing people. They took us to a huge waterfall a couple hours walk from their village.
Also during our stay Brad went spear fishing and crab hunting – which involves running around the jungle at night on the side of a very steep hill, checking holes underneath coconut trees for crabs and attempting to remove them without getting your fingers snapped off. Peter’s dog ‘Spotty’ sometimes helped find them, sometimes ran around randomly, but we still kept following him.
Kids everywhere LOVE Brad…
No trip to Tanna would be complete without a visit to the active volcano. Only a few kms from Peter’s village you hear it rumbling constantly and sprinkles of ash blanket everything. It’s only an hour’s walk there, but it took us 3 hours to walk around to the south side with the track to the top.
Just before the summit – sending postcards!
At the top, waiting for nightfall
We’ll post more about Lowniel village, Tanna-style celebration feasts and what we specifically learnt about village life and translation work when we get back home. For now, we want you to know that we survived, and there are a few more photos at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=123683&id=728601078&l=0987ae074b