I didn’t sleep at all well.
I was very glad the lady from the pharmacy back home had sent me off with a packet of Imodium tablets to counteract upset stomachs.
I took two before bed.
They had a fairly instant effect and I was able to get off to sleep.
Woke at 1-ish I was still feeling pretty yuck, then again just after 4am.
The waves in the cove are so incredibly noisy.
Relentlessly battering the shore just below us.
They are not sleep inducing waves at all!
During the daylight hours you don’t really notice the noise as it is absorbed into the day time noises.
I’m sure they would be magnificent in a storm, but right now, tonight, I would’ve loved for the, to be a bit quieter!
Gave up sleeping around 6.
Got dressed and went out the the foyer area and used the internet for a while.
Got chatting with an Australian guy who was also an early bird and had just done several laps of the pool.
He’s here with his wife and 15 year old daughter.
They eventually came in for breakfast and then my two arrived too.
The owner of the resort appeared.
He’s a rather portly man of similar years to my own!
Married to a Solomon Islander I believe, with several very attractive kids.
Obviously Island life has been good to him.
He has been here since around 1998.
He swaggers about in just a pair of shorts with a very, very large belly.
Later in the day Azzan commented that it was good to see it covered by a shirt as it was damaging his eyesight!
Breakfast was a plate each of fresh slices of local fruits.
My stomach heaved at the sight of them, I managed to eat the banana and the kids ate the rest.
I had toast with coffee, and they found me a jar of Vegemite which went down better than the pineapple jam that Mahalia was devouring with great enjoyment.
After breakfast it became apparent that harmonious relationships between my crew members were not doing well.
So I took them both to the beach and had a bit of a pep talk along the lines of – “Sort it, or else!”
Azzan went for a swim but both the sun screen and the pool chemicals stung his peeling sunburn so he was out of the water very quickly.
I was going to use the wifi in the foyer but the power went off for several hours.
I lay on my bed and watched some documentaries that Azzan had downloaded onto my iPad.
Mahalia came and lay beside me, and then Azzan.
It was good to have some quiet bonding time.
The kids were hungry before midday so we wandered along to have lunch.
My stomach was still feeling a bit yuck, I knew I needed to eat but just couldn’t face much.
Mahalia and I ordered the cheese & tomato toasted sandwich with chips, and Azzan had the largest meal on today’s menu as he was starving!
His meal came out last so he devoured half of my sandwich & my salad while he waited and would’ve had the rest if I’d let him.
The chips were made from the sweet potato, just like our kumara chips back home.
They were good on my stomach, the bland carbohydrate with salt and a small portion of sandwich was good.
We received a messages from reception to say Esso was coming to take us to the Yasur volcano so we got ourselves ready and waited.
We had no idea of exactly when he would be arriving as the message was delivered with an island time approximation of ‘maybe soon’!
The power was back on so we used the internet while waiting.
The owner was chatting to some other guests and I was rather disturbed to hear what he was saying.
They were discussing the local people and the modern advances and how things like cell phones and water reticulation have affected them.
He said that since the introduction of cell phones teenage pregnancies have sky rocketed.
Esso confirmed that when we talked later, it makes it easier for the young folk to arrange meeting between villages etc.
I guess that is a world wide problem, but here Esso said, the people do not like to talk about sex, so the children do not get taught about prevention.
He said for the men to get condoms they have to go to the hospital and ask for them from a female nurse and that is too embarrassing for them so they don’t get them.
His older two daughters in their early twenties are very unusual here because they have got to that age and have never been pregnant.
The Lodge owner was speaking quite negatively about the water reticulation scheme.
He said that the local people could get good water from the many waterfalls etc on the island and that reticulation was doing away with the communal aspect of water gathering.
That attitude disturbed me so I discussed it with Esso later, asking him if it was a good thing or a bad thing for this project to be happening.
He was very positive about it.
He said that often the villagers have to walk up to 1-2kms to get water.
Then they have to carry it back.
This job is done by all the people but falls predominantly on the children and women.
The children would get too tired and fall asleep on the way and then return with no water!
Also, they don’t drink enough, and the hygiene standards are low.
So making water accessible is only going to increase health and hygiene, and allow them more time to do other things.
As another guest said later, maybe if this man had to carry his water every day then he might think differently!!
He also might lose a lot of weight – he is the only obese person I have seen here.
Obesity is definitely not a problem on this island.
Whereas health issues from lack of water, hygiene, money, etc are.
Esso also told me about an initiative he has begun with solar lighting.
He has installed it on his own property, and in his home village, and now that initiative is being extended throughout all the villages on the island.
Esso finally came around 2pm-ish and the kids climbed on the back where they love to sit and his ‘cousin’ Kepita sat in the back, and away we went.
We have traveled the roads enough now to be recognising places as we pass.
As it was Sunday we’d been told that all the shops were closed, but driving through the town I saw some open and commented to Esso about them.
He said ‘probably SDA’
Tanna is a very religious community, and Seventh Day Adventists are about 70% of the population, so Saturday they don’t work, the remainder are Mormon, Presbyterian, Catholic plus smaller groups of Uniting Church so the observe Sunday.
And then if there is also the various village traditional religions as well, so if there is a death or celebration then work stops for that, plus they observe the siesta time too.
Island life is very laid back, cruisey, no one ever appears to be in a hurry.
The only time I’ve seen anyone walking faster than snail pace was the men playing soccer, and they were fair hoofing it on the field!
It seems that the couple who arrived at Esso & Rachel’s they day we left are likely from nearby us in NZ.
Esso was excitedly telling me that their description of home sounded like mine so he is keen for us to meet in the morning.
They had transferred up from a coastal resort due to the mosquitoes, they were covered in bites and glad to get up into the highlands away from them.
Esso had told us in arrival that there were none up this high and that if we ever saw a mosquito to tell him and he would write a newspaper article about it!! 🙂
We stopped off at a village to drop off a spare tyre to his brother.
He was telling me a we drove that he had passed his brother last night going away from the village.
All he would say was he was ‘going there and back’.
Several hours later he called Esso saying he had a flat tyre and his spare was also flat and wanted him to come rescue him, he was at a village down towards the volcano.
Esso said to him, ‘it is 7:30pm, I’m tired and in bed because I’m taking my guests at 4am to a kustom dance, so find somewhere to sleep brother, see you tomorrow, maybe.’ 🙂
Then at 4am he woke his guests, but soon after Melia came running to him because her baby was very sick and needed to get to the hospital and he was the only one with a vehicle who could help, so he told his guests to go back to sleep and he took her to the Dr.
Going to the hospital is not a quick trip around here due to the road conditions and distances.
Several hours later he returned.
The baby is alright now, the guests itinerary changed to a waterfall walk etc, Esso still had little sleep but carried on with his day looking after his guests, maintenance and then coming to take us on our volcano tour.
He was laughing when he told me about his brother because he apparently is not a good planner, and is often calling Esso to rescue him after running out of fuel or breaking down, etc.
He is a mechanic at a local resort but obviously has not much forethought!
He told me he is his twin brother.
I laughed at the thought of there being two of Esso and asked, ‘what’s his name? Jacob?’
He laughed hard and said ‘Yes’!
Esso is the local version on Esau 🙂
As we got closer he was getting calls on his phone from Jacob and he was stirring him up by saying that he had not yet left Tanna Lodge, we were actually only a couple of minutes away.
We stayed and they all talked while the wheel was changed.
I was amused to see that the replacement tyre had no tread either, so hope it got him home safely.
I love how they use the long knives, everywhere you see people with the knives, swinging about like extensions to their hands.
Even small children use them.
Finally we were in our way again, off to the Yasur volcano, it was a good clear afternoon, the prospects of seeing it tonight were good.
We played about in the black dunes, zooming around checking out the scenery, then Esso sent the kids up the steep track to play, they ran down, sand chasing them getting into their hair and eyes, so they were soon back on the truck.
Drove around and through this stunning natural architectural display, I was fascinated by it.
Esso told us that it used to be the very large Lake Siwi, and then in 2009 it built up and burst through the side and all the water disappeared.
Its hard to find photos or information about it, but here is one and another before the cyclone and earthquake broke the banks and it emptied.
We carried on around the side of the volcano, stopping at the ticket office so I could buy some biscuits and use the toilet.
I knew what to expect this time after using it on Friday, so I wasn’t phased.
When I was chatting with the Australian guy this morning he had said that none of women in his party yesterday would use it!
That made me laugh, I’d rather brave the primitive elements of a basic squat toilet than the discomfort of a full bladder whilst navigating the bumpy potholed rugged roads!
We wended our way up a very narrow steep road to the parking area at the back of the volcano.
There were many other trucks there already.
Most people like to come here at dusk to capture the full beauty of the volcano.
Changed into walking shoes and put on jacket and headed up the steep path to the volcano rim.
It was indeed a very moving and frightening thing to finally be up here.
Azzan’s initial impressions were ones of disappointment, he thought we would be right on the edge of the fire!!!
I was nervous, ensuring the kids were not too close to the edge.
There was steam and cloud, and the every few minutes a mighty grumbling enlarging into a massive explosion of burning chunks of molten lava flying upwards.
Here are some views from the top.
We watched for a while and then Esso led us up and around to the top (the peaks in this photo above) so we could see right down inside.
But as we walked some rain clouds appears from no where and enveloped us.
Combined with the sulphur clouds we could barely see anything.
We stayed waiting for each to dissipate, getting soaked to the skin.
It was both horridly uncomfortable and exhilaratingly frightening.
We decided to go back, we scrambled carefully down across the black, soft, loose, volcanic ash, in the low light, following Esso with Kepita behind ensuring we were alright.
Decided to go back to the first observation place and waited while it got darker, and we got more and more soaked.
But it was worth every moment of discomfort.
As darkness enveloped us the light from the explosions became a brilliant technicolor.
It was magnificent – and this is only rumbling away at a No1 level!!
Finally I made the call to leave.
We ran back to the truck.
I had bought a spare merino top so was glad to strip off my sodden downie and shirt and put on a dry top.
My shorts were sodden and the kids were too, but it was warm in the cab and we soon forgot about our discomfort.
Azzan entertained us all on the way back, singing random songs and parodies, as only he can.
Esso & Kepita loved it.
They would join in loudly, laughing along with him, commenting that Azzan’s cd was a bit scratched at times 🙂
It took over an hour to get back.
We arranged tomorrow’s activities and the ran to our cabin.
The kids showered while I gathered up all of our washing.
Then Azzan took it to reception to be done while I enjoyed a long hot very refreshing shower.
So good to be dry and warm after that adventure!
We had preordered dinner so were soon devouring that.
Then the children wandered off to bed, I sat chatting to a couple from Melbourne and a woman from California over coffee.
The kids appeared again, as it was around 10pm by this time we said goodnight and headed off to our respective cabins to get some much deserved sleep.