June 18th, 2009
We left Port Vila on Monday and sailed just a few miles away to Mele Bay – it is a quiet little anchorage outside the village of Mele which is the 2nd largest village in Vanuatu with 6,000 inhabitants. Because it is only 10 minutes by car (and one hour by sailboat)from Port Vila, it is quite modern, and although poor by western standards, quite wealthy for Vanuatu. It is clear that most houses have t.v. and everyone has a cell phone. Lots of simple thatched houses, but also lots made from tin, or even whitewashed with real windows. Lots of people hang yams outside on lines and at first we thought they were rows of sausages. This might make sense as besides yams, the other popular household item is pigs – lots of them – and really huge ones as well as many piglets. Mark and I walked around the village when we arrived and it was clear that we were in a neighborhood that is very used to tourists. No one gave us a second glance. It has been nice getting out of Port Vila. The water here is very clean and we have been able to swim every day the last 3 days and take walks on the long beach.
It has not exactly been a quiet anchorage though. The province of “Shefa” which we are in is apparently celebrating 15 years of being in existence and there has been nearly non-stop music and festivities being held at the large soccer field which is quite close to the anchorage. Last night the music and amplified prayers started at 7 p.m. and seemed to go on almost without stop until this morning at 7:00. We walked over to the field today to see what was going on and it looks like this government holiday is going to continue for a full three days! It was fun to be there – lots of dignitaries (including the president of Vanuatu!), rugby tournaments, comedians (who we could not understand), games for the kids, Vanuatu string band and reggae competitions, and best of all -food booths. It was nice to hang around and watch everything. For the last 3 nights there have been 5 or 6 boats with us in the bay – all of them from New Zealand. One night everyone got invited to “Midnight Sun” – a boat built by an Australian man, but sailed out of New Zealand. When he built the boat it was a 40 footer, but after twenty years of sailing he decided it was not big enough and decided to just add 10 more feet at the back. It made for an excellent party boat with more deck space than any other boat we have been on. Today all the boats left and we are tring to decide whether to stay here a few more days,head north to another anchorage, or head back to Vila to get good internet access (always important). The weather is pretty terrible – lots of clouds and some rain. It is really beautiful when the sun comes out, but that has not happened more than a few hours every day. Happy 31st anniversary today to us!