Friday 26th September

I was awake at 4am, read for a while and then got up around 5:30am and had a shower and got myself ready before waking the kids.
We were at breakfast soon after 6.
I settled up our account and the driver loaded our gear on board.
We were gone from Tanna Lodge before 7am.
It was strange having the kids traveling in an enclosed vehicle.
The did not interact with the locals like they had been over the past week sitting on the back of the truck.
We checked in.
There was a large family group in front of us who had spent a couple of weeks here helping to build a school building.
Then us, and then……
Rachel & Esso appeared.
It was so funny.
Esso walked right passed Mahalia and didn’t notice her.
She saw him and Rachel saw Mahalia and then there was a joyous reunion 🙂
Rachel was flying with us to attend a funeral, Esso couldn’t go because of guests and work.
So we had the pleasure of Rachel’s company all the way to Port Vila.
I sat with her in the tiny 17 seater plane.
We were tucked right in the very back seats.
No room to swing a cat in there!
Once we landed she walked with us over to International and then we had our last hugs goodbye as she had to take a bus into town.
We had arrived early due to the plane taking off half an hour early.
So we had 4 and 1/4 hours to wait for our next flight 😦
And this is what the airport shopping consists of!
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The kids made themselves as comfortable as they could for a couple of hours.
We all enjoyed an ice cream first though – it is made in Port Vila and is delicious.
Switi is the brand so look out for it if you go there.
I browsed the few small shops and brought a couple of pretty scarves.
There was a rack of classic traditional Mother Hubbard dresses for sale.
I thought the label was pretty cool!
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Finally at 11am we were able to check our luggage in and transfer through security and into the boarding lounge area.
I got the kids some food, Mahalia bought some shorts from a stall there and I found the Yakel dvd I had been wanting.

We were boarded around 1pm and the flight left on time at 1:15pm.
The plane was only half full.
I watched ‘Blended’ – it was a really good story, Adam Sandler movies are usually good for a laugh and this one proved very funny, but also very poignant too.
The food they served us was very tasty.
All in all the flight went well.
We landed in Auckland to a cool afternoon.
Whizzed through security, showed the guy Azzan’s coral and shells.
He picked up his piece of volcanic rock and semi crumbled it remarking that it looked like a piece of road.
I was pretty annoyed that he would diminish a young boys treasure like that :-/

Our bags were to be checked straight through to Nelson from there but in the kerfuffle with the shells etc the luggage tag had been torn off so when I went to put the third bag on the conveyor they had to call it back.
And of course the other two had gone so we didn’t know which label was needing to be replaced.
Computer was definitely saying No! this time.
I was so incredibly tired and had been nursing a really bad headache for several hours so I was not in a good shape to be sealing with this unnecessary hassle.
We were told to take the bag over to domestic and get them to sort it.
I was pretty desperate by now so I left Mahalia with our gear and Azzan & I sipped upstairs to departure and got a Tank smoothie to keep us going until we got it all sorted.
So instead of a walk over I fell into the free transfer bus to Domestic.
We queued up and finally got someone to sort the bag.
Then we still had 4 hours to wait for our plane.
So we took up residence near the food court where I found an electric plug to charge my phone.
Azzan was still not feeling great, and neither was Mahalia so we didn’t eat much.
I got a very small salad.
Finally we boarded out plane to Nelson and left at 9pm.
Landed at 10pm, John met us and as soon as our bags were through we chucked them into the boot and he took us back to the motel.
We literally fell in the door of our unit and crashed onto our beds.
Soooooooooo tired.
I had been awake for 19 hours.

Thursday 25th September

I woke up around 3:30am.
I was really cold and slept fitfully until 6ish.
Lay in bed and read my iPhone kindle until the kids woke up.
We cruised on down for a late breakfast.
A Chinese guest ordered an omelette so Azzan and I decided to have one too.
Needed a change from toast.
We had a very restful morning doing not a lot.
We lay about on the foyer couches using the internet for a while.
Then I went and lay on my bed and read my kindle and dozed until lunch time.
After lunch I rested for some more, Azzan swam.
Then mid arvo the owners son Ned took us for a walk along to some caves in the cliffs.
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I let them go in and explore – am not into small spaces.
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We wandered about on the rocks and the. I went to see where the bungalows were that I had stayed in when we came here in 1978.
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They were right here, the first and only tourist accommodation on Tanna.
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Chatted with some young travellers from Sydney, then had dinner.
The owner of the establishment, this time sporting a shirt covering his expansive frontage, was quite chatty.
It actually took him 4 days to speak to me!
But tonight he was very friendly and offered to make me a ‘Baileys’.
He cannot stock the real thing because once the bottles are opened the contents curdle in the heat and he ‘cannot rely on his staff to keep them in the fridge’.
His words!
He may spout on about using local labour and products to do all the building and staffing, but he is very negative about them and their way of life.
He made me a delicious drink using coffee liquor and fresh cream, then proceeded to make an Amaretto for Mahalia.
I think he misjudged her age, or maybe he doesn’t care about giving alcohol to minors – who knows.
Whatever, she didn’t like it anyway 😉
He then made Azzan a cocktail of fruit juice, which Azzan didn’t like either!
But the intention was nice and we thanked him 🙂
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Time to go pack up as we have to leave here at 7am to begin our journey home.

Wednesday 24th September

I had asked Esso to come a bit later as the kids were getting quite weary.
So they were able to chill out until he arrived around 10am.
I chatted over breakfast with Tania, a very interesting and friendly lady from NZ, Nelson and now Christchurch.
Rachel had brought Abraham into the Dr to have his ears checked as he had been crying during the night.
But there was an emergency at the hospital so she wasn’t able to have him seen to.
We picked them up and then Morah, their daughter who is home from her law studies at university for a while.
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Rachel stopped to pick up some mangoes from their favourite roadside stall.
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We drove up into the highlands, passed by a team of Public Works Department guys who are working on widening and improving the road heading north.
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We opted not to walk for n hour through the jungle as we were all tired, so Esso drove us.
It was a very interesting drive, past coffee and other crops put in by Kiwi investors to supply work for the local guys.
Through jungle, squeezing between coconut palms, Daniel ran ahead to clear away fallen fronds and benches.
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Came to a stop in a clearing.
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Sat and enjoyed some fresh mangoes, then we walked down to the Central Highland Cascades with Daniel.
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Unfortunately there has not been any rain and the water had dried up.
Not having been here before we didn’t realise how low it was, we were just deliberating as to what to do.
Azzan went with Daniel down to the bottom and was about to jump in when Esso arrived and stopped him.
Love the way Esso carries Abraham.
It looks so comfy.
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When they were here a few weeks ago there was plenty of water running, now the water is low and still and Esso was worried that we would get sick from the dead leaves.
So we walked back up to the truck and drove back through the jungle and on to their farm.
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Melia had cooked us kumara chips and chicken for lunch.
We were hungry and the kids were very happy to be back at Rachel’s restaurant a they really enjoy her food.
After we ate and I paid Esso the final amount for our tours we said goodbye to Morah and Abraham.
I took a last wander around Rachel’s garden.
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The solar panels to heat the shower water.
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And I had a wee look in Rachel’s restaurant kitchen.
I am so impressed at what she manages to prepare and present with such basicness.
I know that’s not a word but it is for now!
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Sylvana, their eleven year old came with us.
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We stopped off at the Lume Memorial Adventist Vocational and Technical Training college that Rachel’s brother Jimmy Lume started to teach the young folk in practical skills like carpentry, mechanics, hospitality, small business and traditional crafts etc.
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I had met Rose, Jimmy’s wife as we passed by last night.
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I talked with the manager because Jimmy was away in Port Vila.
He showed me around.
They do so much with so little resources.
The main block was funded by Chinese interest, and built by the carpentry students.
This is the main carpentry area outside at the end of the building.
Rachel has used some of the students to build her Nima’s, they all benefit, she gets a new building at a lesser cost and the students get practical education.
Win win!
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The hospitality classroom.
Once again, Rachel uses students in her business and helps to train them on site.
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The small business classroom.
Note the one computer!!
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This is the new block – funded by and referred to as the Climate Change building.
Classes here revolve around the environment, and learning traditional ways which are being lost.
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We then drove on down back to Tanna Lodge where we had to say goodbye to them both.
It was a sad goodbye as we had really built up a good friendship and none of us wanted to leave.
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We just chilled out until dinner time.
So weary, it’s been a full on week.
So so good though.

Tuesday 23rd September

It is getting harder to wake the kids. Mahalia especially.
Azzan and I headed to breakfast at 8am leaving her to wake gently in her own time.
It is better for all concerned if she has her own space for a while 😉
The breakfasts here are nothing spectacular, the slices of fruit are very minimal which is a shame considering the amount of fresh fruit available.
We fill up on toast instead.
Esso arrived after 9am with his older brother John to take us on our adventure which today was the Lenuingao Waterfall Walk.
He had been delayed as he had a meeting with the Tourism Manager about yesterday’s debacle with the Evergreen manager.
We hopped on board and headed to his farm.
It takes around 50-60 minutes depending on how many times we stop etc.
There are always fruit stalls to buy mangoes at, shops to pick up fresh bread, people to talk too or pick up.
Today it was fresh bread!
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When we got to the top of the hill there was a large group of men, lots of trucks and police, all blocking the road.
Esso stopped and called back to Azzan, telling him that this time he should be quiet as we drove through the crowd.
It was a big meeting of chiefs and land office as they are discussing tribal land boundaries.
The current tribal chiefs are getting old and dying so the younger men want the boundaries legally clarified for future generations.DSC05147 DSC05148

Further along we passed a wee girl waking and crying.
My heart strings were really pulled.
Esso stopped and talked with her and got her to climb in with us.
Apparently a boy had hit her at school and she was walking home.
He stopped at the school, called all the kids over to his truck and found the culprit.
He spoke severely to him and made him say he would, never hit a girl again and to say sorry.
Nothing like public humiliation to chastise a bulky!
We left the wee girl there and carried on.
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Esso was chuckling as he told me that he often will go there to the school and sort out problems like this.
The school was begun by his grandfather.
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Back in the day when the John Frum cult took hold here, one of the things they believed was they should not send their kids to school.
However his grandfather thought this was not at all progressive and worked alongside another man to begin this school just for his three sons.
It was grown now to around 200 children and 6 teachers.

We passed Daniel with his cute wee 2yr old son Samuel on his shoulders.
I loved the picture of his boy on his shoulders, his cell phone in one hand and his machete in the other.
Just made such an incongruous picture 🙂
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Daniel was our guide today so once we had greeted Rachel, changed into our swimming/walking gear and applied yet another lot of sunscreen we were ready to go.
Esso drove us to the beginning of the walk.
We walked for such a long time.
Through bush, jungle, past a new village on top of the hill with views towards Aniwa where they import their mandarins from, past large banyan trees, the kids and Daniel always way in front of me.
I had trouble keeping up for several reasons.
I wanted to take photos plus I just couldn’t walk as fast as them without falling flat on my face.
There were tree roots, vines, cut off tree sticks, bright blue lizards darting across my track – so much to watch and look out for!
Every time they would stop and wait for me, I would catch up and they would begin walking again so I never got to rest.
It was a very beautiful walk but so much longer than I had anticipated.
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Walked by a new village.
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Showing us the stinging plant to watch out for.
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I asked what this red was called – yellow tree was the reply.
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Very large inedible bean pod from the largest vine in the jungle.
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One of the beans inside of it, often used to make music instruments.DSC05184  
And what is this tree called? Bush tree was the reply.
Well, they aren’t half obvious names around here are they??DSC05189
A rather large banyan tree.
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Pineapple.
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We stopped to get coconut for morning tea.
Azzan tried to climb the tree, Daniel said he could climb it when he was much younger and smaller, but now he cuts heavy sticks and throws them to hit the coconut and bring it down.
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It took several throws but finally he had two for us to enjoy.
He cut open a hole in the top – couldn’t get a drink much fresher than this!!
He also cut us some of the flesh to eat, but reckoned it was too old and we should try some from a tree nearer the coast.
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I was like, careful when Daniel was about to cut open the coconut.
With a big grin he informed me he has been using the machete since he was three 🙂DSC05208 DSC05210
We continued walking towards the waterfall.
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As we got closer the track descended almost vertically.
I was terrified I was going to fall.
He cut me a walking stick which helped a lot, but it was still pretty scary and I came down very very slowly.
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At times I was almost in tears, but I dug deep and grabbed my stoic bone and finally made it down.
It was a lovely place.
The rock formation at the top of the waterfall was beautiful.
We climbed down to the bottom of the falls, it is very dry here so the falls are not big right now, but it was still a pretty sight.
Not enough water to make the kids want to swim though so we continued walking to the coast.
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Grave of an early missionary – 1926.DSC05246 DSC05247DSC05250
The east coast is very remote and not on the usual tourism trail so we feel incredibly privileged to be able to visit here.
The beach we arrived down at was soft black sand bordered by flat rough rocks with waves crashing unwelcomingly against and over, with occasional small coves were you can swim safely.
Daniel let the kids go into the surf with the boundary of two sticks in the sand to remain between.
They had a wonderful time playing in the surf.
I waded in up to my thighs and allowed the waves to splash the weariness out of my legs.
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Cell phone cover even over here!
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Esso walked to us from further south.
He went out to ‘rescue’ Azzan 🙂
He and Azzan have a great connection, he really enjoyed Azzan’s humour and singing.
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We walked along the beach to where our picnic lunch was and we gratefully sat and munched on Rachel’s excellent fresh bread with lettuce, tomato & egg sandwiches.
Rachel & Abraham were down by the lagoon.
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After lunch we all played in the lagoon, Esso began making a dam with Abraham and the others all joined in.
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My two went off swimming.
Daniel set up boundary sticks again to keep the, in the safe areas.
There are no rocks right along this stretch.
This is the longest black beach on the island.
Such a wonderful place and an honour to be allowed to share it with the local people.
A ground of four guys wandered along passed us with two guitars over their shoulders.
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I joked with Esso that it couldn’t get much better than this, having our own traveling minstrels 🙂
I went along and sat in the sand for a while and watched my two swimming with the volcano billowing clouds behind them.
Such a glorious scene.

Abraham came along and entertained me.
He planted himself down right between my legs and proceeded to draw in the sand.
Such a cute wee man.
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We eventually walked back, how could I resist this we face and hand reaching out for an ‘up’?
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I was amused to watch the men continue in with the sand building even after the kids all lost interest.
They finished building the dam and then dug a canal out to the sea.
They were like big kids in their enjoyment of the simple things in life.
We could learn much here.
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It was getting colder and the afternoon was disappearing but we still couldn’t get the kids out of the water.
They came back to the lagoon and Esso thought they were ready to leave, but Azzan said ‘No, I’m just having a rest’!
And back into the sea they went.
We packed up and got ready to begin walking.
Abraham didn’t want to leave yet either in spite of his shivering from the cold.
Esso dressed him and cuddled him up while we waited for my two.
We finally had to call them out!!
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They had such a fantastic time.
We trudged back up to the truck.
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Not too far to go, just 300-400m up hill, an easier track thankfully.
We sat around and rested for a while, nothing happens here in much of a hurry.
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Esso showed me some Soursop growing on the trees.
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We dropped Rachel at the Nimas, then left Abraham up at the village with his relations.
I met and chatted with Camille and baby Tania
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All along the way we dropped off and picked up people and bags etc.
The sun was setting as we came down the hill from the central highlands, so beautiful even whe it is cloudy.
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At the bottom of the hill Esso turned right and said he had a surprise for the kids.
He took us to a water hole where all the wild horses come to drink at dusk.
It was a beautiful sight.
Over 30 horses.
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The water hole is drying up which is making it hard for them.
The missionaries brought horses here for their transportation.
Most of the young men of the central highlands ride now, they catch a horse they like and tether it.
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If they don’t use strong enough rope then the horse escapes and they have to recapture!

Stopped at a shop for a mo.
These two young fellas were mixing concrete!
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We fell out of the truck at Tanna Lodge after arranging a later pick up for tomorrow’s adventures.
I need to allow the kids a bit of a sleep in as they are getting really tired.
We found our room had not been serviced so I went to get so e clean towels and discovered that due to a tribal ceremony none of their staff had turned up for work so they were very short staffed today.
Only the arrival rooms had been cleaned.
Apparently it is a great frustration to the owner!

We met a Kiwi couple from Nelson at dinner!!
Such a small world 🙂
We talked a while, shared experiences and they and Mahalia went off to their cabins.
Azzan and I chilled out on our iPads for a while.
At night in the foyer when everyone has gone off to bed it is so peaceful.
Only the sound of the waves and the call of the geckos up in the rafters.

Monday 22nd September – part 3

The afternoon was moving along so we got dressed and drove back.
It was good to see a different road with new but familiar village views as we were driving through private tribal land.
Loved the cattle stops!
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Esso’s family comes from the largest tribe on the island.
We talk a lot as we drive and he shares so much information about the life on Tanna.
I asked how marriage happens here.
Wow! It’s a pretty brutal ceremony.
The marriages were always arranged, today not so many are.
But in an arranged marriage the girl’s family take the boy down to the river and whip him then cover him in coconut oil.
It is not an angry brutal whipping, but it still hurts and stings and shows that he is taking their daughter way from them.
The boys family does the same thing to the girl.
Then they come together and have a ceremonial feast.
Then the old men take the couple and sit and talk with them ( he didn’t say what they talk about but I imagine it would be the birds and bees stuff!) and then they go to a hut and consummate the marriage.
Simple!
But I can sure see the benefit of eloping to avoid getting a whipping 😉

We stopped off at White Grass Resort and had a lovely lunch.
I asked Esso to join us.
It was so lovely relaxing there.
It is a delightful resort with a really nice feel to it.
Probably my choice if we come back another time.
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Esso showed us the soursop or as they call it here, sap sap fruit which we had been getting served for breakfast.
It has a really unusual flavour, the kids don’t mind a small chunk of it but I’m not keen.
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We drove back to towards town with the kids entertaining the locals along the way.
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A local fuel station!
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Yam gardens
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We drove up a steep winding very deep rutted road to get to the world’ largest banyan tree.

Yes, you have to pay to see the tree, but as tourism is one of the few ways for the locals to make any money I did not resent this.
In fact most things you go and visit you have to pay the local tribe for the privilege of experiencing it.
And a privilege it is indeed!
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Our guide was a Tony, 15 years old, who on discovering we were from NZ told me his father worked for the past 4 or 5 years in the vineyards to earn money for his children’s school fees.
I asked him what he was going to do with his education and suggested to him that he should work hard and appreciate what his father is doing as it is very hard work for the men when they come as seasonal workers.
He led us down to the tree.
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It is humungous.
Hard for us to comprehend this being one tree, as we are only used to one trunk trees.
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It is 200m around the outside of it, 100m across and 80m high.
It is a female banyan and probably over 200 years old.
The walk back up was steep steps so I took my time and puffed up slowly.
At the top is a male banyan tree.
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Esso diverted to the old airstrip so I could see where I would’ve landed last time I was here.
They had to build a longer airstrip to accommodate the bigger airplanes.
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Then he delivered us back to Tanna Lodge.
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We collapsed until dinner time.
I wandered the beach for a while soaking up the beauty of the setting sun.
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We had a light meal and then I chatted with Penny from Sacramento for ages.
Most folk went off to bed before 10pm, but I sat in the quiet and loaded a few photos onto Facebook while the internet was working.
Finally headed off to bed around 11pm.

Monday 22nd September -part 2

We carried on up the road and pulled in at a small cove.
We got changed into our swimwear and then walked across the very sharp rocks out to where the boat was waiting.
We had forgotten to bring our reef shoes so it was pretty hard going as our jandals were slippery and made it more dangerous to walk.
I grazed the side of my leg as I clambered down.
It was far to rough to get on the boat so we walked back, passing a delightful old lady sitting quietly tucked away in amongst the rocks, washing clothes.
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We drove down the road and parked up near the Evergreen tours/resort.
As we were walking down a track to the rocks where our boat was waiting for us the manager of the place started shouting quite abusively at Esso for walking us through there.
Esso was a very upset but continued on taking us to the boat.
We had to wade carefully over the rocks, waiting for the waves to ebb so we could see where to walk and then just at the right time we would clamber onto the boat.
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Esso wanted to come with us, but he had to go back and sort out the man.
So we motored up the coast with Nital.
We had no idea where we were going, how far it was, it seemed to take forever.
It was a lovely day and the coastline was very pretty.
Mainly rugged rocks, not at all conducive to landing safely, but every now and then we would see a white beach tucked in behind the rocks with outrigger canoes and boats on the beach which said there must be a passage through there somewhere!
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We passed some other folk from our Lodge heading back.
Finally we arrived at the Blue Cave entrance.
But the sea was big and rough and the waves were pounding.
We tied up to the mooring and debated what to do.
Azzan’s so wanted to do here dive, but Mahalia was hesitant and I wasn’t keen.
The sea flattened off a bit and we were about to go in when Nital said ‘wait, there’s a big one coming!
We rode a huge wave and watched it smash against the rocks!!!
I am so glad we didn’t go in.
We discovered when we got back to the Lodge that one of the older men nearly drowned and needed a lot of help getting back out again.
It was disappointing but I wasn’t prepared to risk our lives so we turned back and headed back along the coast.
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Nital offered to let the kids off to snorkel in a more sheltered area but they didn’t want to.
He cruised along the coast and we got gorgeous views of the rocks, the sea was so incredibly clear we could see the bottom.
A ship wreck was the only blight on the landscape.
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It was a cargo boat from Port Vila that got caught in a storm and holed the hull about two years ago.
They have tried to tow it away with tug boats but unfortunately can’t move it.
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We arrived at a delightful cove where Esso was waiting for us.
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The kids snorkelled for a while and said it was great.
Lots of quite different fish to what they had seen at Hideaway Island.
I just waded for a while and then talked to the guys.
Esso told me what happened.
He is a very active member of the tourism department here and also the son of one of the most important chiefs.
He said he has never ever been spoken to like that before, he was very upset and angry.
All land here is owned by tribal families and there are many custom areas where anyone can walk to allow access to the coast and rivers etc.
You cannot stop anyone from waking there.
Also no land can be sold freehold, you only ever buy a lease which is usually around 75 years, but is discussed and agreed on by the tribal owner and the leasee.
The Evergreen Resort is however not on a lease.
It is owned by a native and currently managed by a NZ man and his Italian wife.
I was so embarrassed to discover that this man was a Kiwi 😦
As Esso said, if you have a problem with someone you discuss it privately, you do not yell abusively in front of others.
So it looks like this man might be on borrowed time here if he doesn’t come to understand and respect the tribal ways.
I absolutely abhor the condescending ‘Big White Chief’ attitude that is too often displayed towards the local people.
I have seen so many tourists coming here just to see the sights and go to the volcano, but not many take the time to get to know the grass roots of the culture.
The ones that do get so much more from their time here.
I have learnt so much, have appreciated all I have seen and how they have treated us with nothing but friendliness and respect.
It is the reason I bought the kids here, to show them another culture, and allow them to learn so much more that they would by lazing it up at a resort.
It has been exhausting but so so good.
The kids have loved it, they don’t want to sit inside the air conditioned cab with me, but want to always sit on the back of the truck, getting the best views and calling out greetings to the local kids along the way.
Some of there roads we have traveled many times and the kids come running, waving, laughing, calling out greetings to Azzan because they recognise him.
Childhood has a universal language which easily crosses the barriers.
Today as we headed home he would greet everyone with ‘Hola!’
To which they would reply back ‘Hola,’ – not understanding him but agreeing with him 🙂
He was getting tired of the normal waving and saying ‘Bye!’ so he changes the language for fun.
Crazy boy 🙂
But his interaction makes everyone laugh and happy.
I have seen old men, ladies, reacting to him.
Young men calling out to Mahalia ‘Bella!’ – she doesn’t know French so didn’t understand the compliment until I told her later 🙂

Monday 22nd September – part 1

I slept much better last night, but still woke several hours earlier than the kids.
I had to wake them just before 8am so they would have time for breakfast before Esso came for us at 8:30-9am.
They were not happy about being woken, holidaying adventures are tiring!
I tried to upload my blog post whilst eating breakfast but the internet had gone down.
Esso arrived a bit late because his house guests had taken longer to get ready for departure.
We were prepared for visiting the market and banyan tree, but he said we might go to Blue Cave today as the weather was looking okay.
So we ran back to our room and gathered up our swimming gear.
Then we were off down to the market.
He fueled up the truck with Mazut (diesel) and then we went for a wander through the Blackmantown market.
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Lenakel is called this because no white man can ever own this town.
We met up with the Australian woman we’d been speaking with last night, she asked if she could tag along with us.
I think she was feeling a little uncomfortable, but as we have been mixing mainly with the native folk here we are not feeling like that any more.
She bought a basket, I saw one I liked but restrained myself by asking the questions; What will I do with it when I get home? Will it sit in a pile and eventually get thrown out?
Azzan wanted to go get a small trinket from the shop that he had seen on Friday.
When I discovered it was for a gift for some of his friends I let him go get it.
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Then we went and found Esso who was parked in there shade across the road, and we headed off to find the boat.
On the way we stopped so he could show us through the Tanna Coffee Co-op building where they process the beans from their coffee gardens.
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It was very interesting to see how they do it here.
It is incredibly primitive and labour reliant.
It made me think back to the early days of our mussel industry and how Tim and I would seed our mussel lines manually in the wool shed, and now it is all done by machines in a vastly greater scale.
What is impressive is that these folk have taken a plant which grows wild here, they are transplanting the seedlings into manegeable plantation areas, clearing away jungle to do this.
They have formed a cooperative and are concentrating on producing a quality export product, and doing it the best way they know how and can afford at this time.
The bags of beans are tipped through this machine and husked.
Husks go in the right bin and the beans in the left.
There were husks flying all about due to the wind of the machine.
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Then they get rubbed over a metal sieve which drops any remaining small husks or broken beans through below.
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The girls sitting outside are the final link in the chain and are painstakingly sorting the good beans from the rubbish ones.
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There is only one machine and it is powered by a generator, which was also being used to charge a cell phone!
Electricity is a scarce commodity here so they take advantage of any chance to do this.
There are basic cell phones everywhere and very good coverage over the island, I have no idea how the village folk manage to keep them charged up.
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There is a shipping container out back, this 15 tonne order in here is for South Korea.
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They also export to Australia (Coffee Brothers) and New Zealand – fellow Kiwi coffee drinkers, look out for the Havannah brands.
They are currently processing around 300 tonne a year and this is only their 7th year.
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I read that 90% of all coffee drunk here in Vanuatu is supplied from Tanna coffee plantations and processed in Port Vila.
The Co-op have 100 hectares of farms supplying them at this point and more being grown.
Esso and Rachel have 3 hectares and are planning to develop and plant more hectares.
By doing this they are not only supporting themselves and providing for their family, but they are providing work for others.
Because the plants grow wild the only cost in setting up is the land clearance and transplanting of seedlings.
One hectare produces approximately 1.5tonne of green beans.
The Co-op encourages outside investment.
Esso explained to me that ownership in the company gives pride.
So when a co-op member enjoys a cup of Tanna coffee they will enjoy it more knowing they are playing a part in the production of it.
The truck arrived just before we left bringing more girls to work on the sorting table.
They had some sandlewood branches on there back, it has a very definitive smell.
Apparently they extract the oil and sell it for around 6000Vatu per kilo.
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This was also on the back – it’s makeshift lid cracked me up!!
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