Vanuatu July 2008 (2 of 3)
After getting acclimated, we headed out to Epi Island to see what Vanuatu was like away from the big city.
First stop, the Epi Guesthouse, a short tractor ride away from the airstrip. Here Rob and Alix have established their slice of paradise, a pioneering outpost of western civilzation (island-style), on an otherwise relatively undeveloped tropical island. We loved exploring here, hanging out with them and their pets, meeting a few of the locals, and eating ourselves silly.
Rob is an avid collector of all things interesting, which gave us lots to wonder at. We saw plenty of small clams while snorkelling, but nothing like this massive old shell.
Reluctantly leaving the guesthouse, we hopped in a truck for the ride up to Lamen Bay. It was a beautiful trip through many villages, where our arms got tired from waving to everone. Building construction varied from completely native to completely western. No electricity save a few small solar panels, but the villages all have good potable water supplies. Not many vehicles on Epi, (population 5,000) I believe we saw about 6 trucks during our stay. It is possible they have more languages then trucks on the island!
We spent a day at Lamen Bay, hoping to swim with the local Dugong, or sea cow. Unfortunately for that goal we literally missed the boat in the afternoon and had to wait until the next morning to go in search of the Dugong. We spent a relaxing day walking the beach and village, and swimming. A few hundred people live on Lamen Island in the bay and commute in boats or dugouts to the main island to tend their gardens, etc. Here a man installs a new strut on his dugout.
We watched the sunset as evening fell over the bay and the village. We enjoyed the slow pace of things, lack of traffic, and went to sleep with a chorus of roosters, dogs, and laughter.
Zane loved playing with the dogs, the cat, and especially "Matey" the resident young semi-tame Lorikeet. It wanderes free during the day, returns at cocktail hour, and happily sleeps in its cage at night.
Louis, the chief of the local village, took us for a walk up to the nearby waterfall. Here he gives us a little bit of the local history, describing how his ancestors used the boulder he's got his foot on to sharpen their stone knives. The swimming was great too, with the prawns nibbling our toes.
Our last morning at Lamen Bay we did cath the boat and got out to look for the Dugong. We didn't find any, but had a good snorkel nonetheless. The boat took us back to pick up our bags, then dropped us off at the aiport for the flight back to Port Vila.