Tanna

We arrived in Tanna at the southern end of the island chain.  Until recently you could not visit Tanna without checking in at Port Vila (Efate).  This made the visit to Tanna very difficult due to the normal wind direction.  The draw of people to Tanna is first and foremost the active volcano.  This is called Mt. Yasur. 

We went up to the rim to visit. Definitely not a Disney World ride - but boy could it be. The truck ride up and back was as incredible and the volcano itself. We went up in the late afternoon so we could see everything and then as the sun set you could see the lava and rocks being shot up out of the crater. The ground rumbled often and it was an eerie experience.

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A view from the crater out to sea
 before the sun set - unless you heard the noise you would not know you were so close to an active volcano

 

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As the sun sets over the crater we begin to anticipate how spectacular the view will be when the sky darkens.

As the sun sets the glow increases and the lava and rocks can be seen spewing from the crater

We understand there are several other volcanoes (active) on islands north and we hope to see them. We understand you cannot visit some during this time because of the tabu (taboo). They are afraid that if you go up to the volcano you will affect the growing season. Anyway we are looking forward to visiting these islands and will keep you posted.

The next thing we did that was so special was to attend a Nekowiar  and Toka Ceremony.  This ceremony functions as an alliance-making process between several neighboring villages.  It also brings clan leaders together to organize marriages between youngsters in different clans.  Since a Nekowiar is not needed by every village every year, it is a special treat to have one happen while you are on the island. 

As part of the ceremony a few days before 'beauty magic' takes over.  The locals using powder paint and coconut oil and color their faces.  Every dance group tries to outdo the others.

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Here are a mother and daughter with their faces decorated for the festival

The dancing then starts with the Napen-Napen.  This begins with the young men dancing with the aim of getting the women to dance.  When they do the women dance showing the toil in the fields and dance through the night.  Most wear grass skirts in all colors.

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Then on to the Toka.  This portion of the ceremony is all male dancers.  If the Toka dancers make a circle and capture a woman, she is tossed up and down between them.  Female tourists are warned to remain well back unless they want to be carried and pinched by excited men.  This dancing goes on all day and night.  The men are allowed to have sex with any woman they catch, even if she's a tourist.

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This gentleman and child were dancing in the Toka Ceremony wearing the traditional
 dress called the nambia.

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To the left here is special seating you can purchase for an extra fee.  They built treehouses so you had a "bird's eye view".  This looked much sturdier than most.

After spending an exhausting time visiting the volcano and the festival, we were hoping for some quiet time on the boat.  The local village had salvaged a boat off the reef just before our arrival and heard that Rick was good with diesel engines.  Next thing you know Rick has promised to fix the generator so the village can run a refrigerator, a washing machine and some lights.

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Rick and his "team".  Mike from Renaitre was the other yachtie and Nelson left of Rick was the village foreman.

Mike is holding the toaster.  When Rick got the genset working the only thing they had to test was a toaster.  When he plugged it in the locals appeared with a loaf of bread and Rick toasted the bread and served over 50 locals as they stood watching the genset run

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One last item before we left was having the genset moved to a better location.  The village was going to build a cement building to house it but it had to be moved first - quite an undertaking.

While Rick was busy working on the generator, I helped out the local village women by fixing the sewing machines.  While I could not do all the work myself, I was able to recruit other cruisers to assist.  I even found a cruiser with a manual, which I scanned and copied and attached to each machine for future use.  I also did a small training class for the locals to show them how to clean and oil the machines and adjust the tension.  Simple things that would keep the machines working (we hope).

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The team working on the last sewing machine.  It was a difficult fix, but we prevailed.  We fixed four machines in total and left needles, oil and information

While in Tanna we met several of the American Peach Corps volunteers and Rick invited them to visit us on the boat.  We thought there would be two, however, when Rick went in to pick them up we found a few more - oh well.  Anyway we had nibbles - cheese, crackers, pepperoni, peppers, olives - the usual fair.  They were incredible.  I have not seen food disappear so quickly since Kevin came home with his friends from college.  One statement by Jonathan was "it was good to eat something that was not a root vegetable".  Anyway we enjoyed their visit and hoped to see one or two of them up the island chain.

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It was time to leave Tanna and we were off to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.  We would get anything needed from stores and our visas for Australia before we headed to the outer islands.

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