Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ambrym Island, Vanuatu 2014

We had planned to hop around all the islands in Vanuatu but the weather was not all that agreeable and we would have had to anchor along the windward sides of the islands.    Although we missed a few things we did get to go to Ambrym, the island known mostly for its Black Magic and for Tan Tam carvings.    We anchored just beneath an active volcano and off the villages of Ranvetlam and Ranon and since we were in the lee of the island we had a very peaceful anchorage.   As usual, we were visited by locals who invited us to go to a wedding ceremony.   We followed them on one day to see the wedding preparations which included visiting relatives and friends bringing taro root and cows and pigs for slaughter and baking bread.

The walk on the trail to Ranvetlam was beautiful, by the way, with several banyon trees along the way.

The next day we went back to the wedding itself.     When the happy couples (two brothers got married on the same day) emerged they didn't seem too happy to us.   I think they just don't show much emotion during the festivities.     I jumped into the gift giving line and when I deposited our little gifts on the pile a little girl doused me with powder as a kind of blessing and thank you.   The couple got lots of buckets.   You can't have too many buckets, I guess.  The string band was a lot of fun to listen to.

We stopped at a hot spring a little farther down the island.    This creek was so hot you could not walk in it unless you were closer to the ocean where it was cooler.

On one afternoon we got to see a Rom Dance on the beach.    The locals, I should mention, charge a hefty fee for certain festivals and events.     While the wedding was free, a festival in another village on Ambrym was $80 each to attend.     The Rom Dance was $50 each.    We decided it was a once in a lifetime event so we did it.     It is a way during the cruising season that the villages can share their customs and earn some money.

 Fred, from Ranon, is a well known tan tam carver.

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