I have just come back from spending ten wonderful days in Vanuatu. It was truly inspirational in so many ways. Beautiful climate, beautiful country, beautiful people.

We did the usual touristy things. Snorkelled, swam, walked the beaches, zoomed on buggies and water boats, ate fresh seafood every night.

But we also had the chance to get off the beaten track and see how the locals live. Just off Melee Bay Steve got to plant taro and dig holes for the yams. I got to get down in the dirt and plant the yams, right way up, the right depth, and to make sure the earth was fine enough for the plant to grow well. And to get the mound the right height. (I'm so used to planting in a drought and created wells around each yam mound, you don't need this in Vanuatu)

We also went to Tanna for four days. Tanna was amazing. We stayed in a beach side bungalow on the south east of the island, away from the main town, away from it all. We also got the chance to walk along the rim of an active volcano.

Once in the daytime and of course once at night...

But more importantly we got to meet the people. There were three villages on the turn off to Friendly Bungalows where we stayed. Word had got out that some travel agents were visiting. This was big news. Usually travel agents go to Port Vila and people from the outer islands bring their brochures to show, to lure them to visit. It is never the same as seeing a place for yourself. And this was the first time that travel agents had been to Tanna so the villages got organised.

They wanted to show their culture, the chiefs knowing that tourists to their small villages will help the whole village. (For me this was a catch 22 situation....the people only need money for two things. Clothing and education for their children- both of which we Westerners have decried they must have) The children dressed up and a small market was created where they sold woven baskets, fresh bananas and coconuts.

The best part of the experience was spending time in the villages. We watched children play a version of quoits with three rubber bands...girls play a catching game with two marbles.....young boys who trundled along poles with two wheels at the end (their version of a vehicle).

To these people it is simple. Family and community are their focus. If you have a family you always have a home. And if you need a new house it's easy, the whole community gathers together. The men go into the jungle and cut down trees, the women weave the walls, and together they build a house.

No one goes hungry because every one has pigs and chickens and a plot of land to grow yam, tarro, coconut, pawpaw and banana.

They do not understand us and our need for everything.
They do not understand that we have homeless and the hungry- for everyone has family, everyone has more than enough food to share.

I came away with such a respect for them and their way of life. For their connection with the earth, with their strong bond of community.

To their sense of belonging. Their sense of place. Their sense of peace...


  1. That's why I married an islander. They truly get the big picture.

  2. They do don't they- very envious of their attitude


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