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.
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.
Then they get rubbed over a metal sieve which drops any remaining small husks or broken beans through below.
The girls sitting outside are the final link in the chain and are painstakingly sorting the good beans from the rubbish ones.
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.
There is a shipping container out back, this 15 tonne order in here is for South Korea.
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.
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.
This was also on the back – it’s makeshift lid cracked me up!!

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