We left Port Villa after an amazing Friday night of fire dancing performed by the Vanuatu Fire Dance company. We really enjoyed the performance and I would say would be a must do if you are visiting the islands here. Great music, silks with fire, fire batons and laser lights on the beach with our boats as the back drop. Saturday morning was an early start for our 80 miles up to Lamen Bay. This bay is known for its turtles and dugongs (manatees or sea cows). These dugongs are rather large, gentle, shy creatures that surface once in awhile to breathe and feed off of the grass on the bottom.
When approaching the bay there was one other boat there and low and behold it turned out to be Sea Note, our friends Ray and Chicgaila. It was super nice to catch up with them and share an anchorage for a day. The anchorage is very peaceful and quiet. Unfortunately we scoured the reefs and the shore line and were only able to see one turtle in the morning swimming by our boat and as we were leaving, in the distance I saw a dugong swimming close to shore... Bummer. I know they are shy and it is hard to find them so i believe we just needed to allocate more time to be able to see them and unfortunately time is not on our side.
It was a quiet motor up to Ambryn Island and as we were motoring along a bunch of dolphins came to play in our wakes... This really never gets old. I was just complaining to Tristan that we haven't seen as many dolphins as I thought we would and what a bummer it is... they are so beautiful when you can watch them swim with the boat. I think we need our little friend, Annakenna from Pelagic, with us since she has developed a skill (or lucky timing) at calling dolphins. Anyway, the water was crystal clear with not a ripple from wind in sight so when the dolphins came it was like looking at them through a glass bottom boat. You could see every detail as they swam in front of our nets. There were also these blue reflections that looked like they were glowing in the water. They would come by the boat in large groups and it would look like you were looking into the night sky through the water except the lights were blue not white. Not sure if they were fish, jellies or something else but they were fun to look for.
Ambryn Island is known for another live volcano. There are quite a few here in Vanuatu and this one is another that you can go and look into the pit of. It is an all day hike and even an overnight in a hut at the top if you want to go see it... This would have been amazing except I believe a little too much for the girls to under take again especially after their fright from the other volcano. It is also known for the hot springs that come out of the black sand beaches and when you dig your toes into the sand you can feel the temperature rapidly rise sometimes getting very hot. We anchored off of a known spot for the hot springs. It was a little bit of a sketchy anchorage and we didn't feel that the anchor got a really good grip so we decided to just make it a day stop and enjoy the beach and warm water (85 degrees) and then go up the coast to Pentacoste for the land diving. We were told from our friends on Midnight Sun (John and Wendy) That if we came here we needed to take the dinghy around the corner to this hot pool area where the water meets the ocean and warms up to almost jacuzzi levels in spots. It was a beautiful little alcove lined with tall rock cliffs where you could see how the sulfur has changed the colors of the rocks. The kids were swimming around and finding the really hot spots and digging there toes into the sand until they couldn't take the heat. They were also giving new spa treatments of hot lava sand scubs on your back... Really relaxing except for what seemed like the millions of flies that were there.
So far Vanuatu has not let us down... it really is quite amazing, primitive, beautiful, peaceful, traditional, cultutal and just simply simple and easy to be here. We are currently anchored in front of Lucs bungalows in Londot, Pentecoste. He was the original entrepreneur of the land diving and takes the tourists to see this event. Traditionally this event was started when a woman who was getting beaten by her husband ran from him and climbed a tree. He came after her up the tree so when he got up she jumped and he jumped after her... not realizing she had tied vines to her ankles she survived and he didn't. The woman were the ones that had performed the ceremony originally, but Elaine from the village told us the boys took it over from the women sometime ago. Now it is performed by the men to represent them coming into manhood and for a good yam harvest season. The twines are only good to use when the yam shoots are just breaking the ground. She explained that they only do these during the months of Apri, May and June because after that the vines get to much water in them and they become brittle and break. There isn't an exact age for this and many do it more than once. Elaine said that when the boys feel they are ready they jump, otherwise they don't. Her son started jumping at the age of 8... most do it more than once.
We will be leaving in about 20 minutes to go and watch these boys and men jump from this made up platform about 5 stories high, that looks like a boy scout creation gone bad... I hope everyone is safe.
More to come... hope everyone is happy and well at home.
Hugs and love,
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