01 Nov 2019
A Warm Vanuatu Welcome
Mid-morning we dropped anchor in a sheltered bay near the small town of Sola on Vanua Lava Island. We had arrived in Vanuatu. Customs and immigration officers were soon on board processing the necessary paperwork.
After an early lunch we walked through Sola to the Kastom village of Nerekon, where we were greeted by a chief singing a melodic song, a contrast to some of the warrior charges we had faced previously. We were then treated to a variety of interesting cultural demonstrations. We learnt how building materials were created from split bamboo and roofs from stitched palm leaves, how a delicious local cake of breadfruit and coconut was prepared, and how the intoxicating local drink of kava was brewed - with tastings of course. The kava looked rather like muddy water and had a peppery flavour that seemed to numb the mouth. Definitely an acquired taste! Then, we were entertained by dances, first by the women in costumes of leaves. Then by the men, whose bodies had been dramatically painted to resemble sea snakes, whose movements they imitated. Finally, many of us joined in with a noisy 'public dance', to everyone's amusement. It was a very warm welcome to Vanuatu.
Just offshore we found a reef with a wonderful variety of plate corals, the best we'd seen so far on the voyage. We spent an enjoyable hour or so snorkelling in the shallows, viewing the coral and observing the fish life, before returning to the ship for the evening. A colourful end to our first day in Vanuatu.
Image (c) N.Nightingale, Heritage Expeditions
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