Since arriving in Vanuatu, we have posted a number of articles on our blog that have focused on the historical and cultural aspects of this country. However the diversity has become more apparent with each new area or island that we have visited. Port Vila was a noisy, busy and a very cosmopolitan environment. Havannah Harbour was very tranquil, but Erromango Island has given us the best insight into life in Vanuatu thus far.
Our arrival in Dillon's Bay yesterday revealed that we could only get "Edge" data, but after the initial grumbles, we soon learnt that having "Edge" was definitely better than nothing, especially when the service went down last night. Miraculously, though, it came back on when the sun reached a certain height this morning. Then we realised what the issue was - The tower is solar powered and, therefore, goes off every night.
Putting these technology constraints aside and besides the cultural differences between t he islands, as well as what each island has to offer the tourist, apparently each island also has something different to contribute to the overall economy. Today we discovered that Erromango Island contributes lobsters. Every night the men from the village dive for lobster which are then flown to Port Vila every morning. The proceeds from these sales are then used to purchase school supplies for the children, as well as to purchase any items that the village requires. Any other needs are acquired through their practice of "trading" with either other villages or other islands or through cruisers like ourselves. We have acquired so much fruit in the short period of time we have been here, simply by trading sugar, rice, powdered milk, fish hooks and fishing line. Of course, at the mention of lobster, Roy didn't waste any time in suggesting a trade of lobster for fish hooks, so we await the arrival of our lobster tomorrow morning.
Although it was a Sunday and we could hear the various church bells ringing in the village, Chief Jacob had assured us we could still visit the village today. So, after a meander up the William's River in the dinghy and finding a suitable spot to land, we were greeted by a very pleasant gentleman, David, owner of the Dillon's Bay "Yacht Club".
Our walk through the village revealed traditionally built homes tucked away between the lush vegetation, fruit trees galore and very friendly villagers, particularly the children who greeted us with huge smiles and enthusiastic waves. One little girl in particular, who was no older than three years old, walked straight up to Roy with her outstretched hand to be shaken. Just the cutest. Another youngster, who captured our interest because of his hair, turned out to be a real character as he posed for some photographs.
We learnt that each family in the village has their own section where they live and are responsible for tending to the grounds / gardens of that specific area, but the communal areas included the clinic, the schools and a small shop. The churches, however, seemed to be spread throughout the village. Four different languages, French, English, Bislama and their native dialect, are taught in school, as well as mathematics, science, geography, etc. We also learnt that there is a guesthouse above the "Yacht Club" that provides additional income for village. It is used by tourists who visit the island to see the enormous Kauri trees, some of which have a circumference equal to fifteen people forming a circle.
This was a perfect example of yet another community in the South Pacific thriving without any modern amenities and leading a simple, but fulfilling life. Certainly makes you wonder who's got it right!