|Tasty wahoo leapt into our freezer.|
Lamen is known for a few things, among them resident dugongs and friendly people. It delivered the goods on both accounts, and then some!
|Hanging out with Bennie and Kenneth in front of their new tourist bungalow|
|Cindi gathering some basil......pesto pasta with fresh wahoo......ahhhhhh.......|
|Kenneth shows how the thatched roofs are made.....done right, they'll last at least 10 years.....|
|Interior shot of the new bungalow venture.....we wish them well!!!|
We happened to be in Lamen Bay for the Independence Day holiday, marking 37 years of independence from the joint British/French rule. The "day" was actually a full week celebration across the bay on Lamen Island......we made the trip across on several days, enjoying the party and both the whacky and serious competitions in round robin soccer (football) and volleyball. All good!!!
Folks came by boat each day, either powered or canoe.....we took the power boat.
The round-the-island bike race was our favorite. The 3 competitors in the peloton (there were only 3 allowed, since there are only 3 bikes on the island!) all had to run to one end of the island, where the bikes were waiting. They would get their pick of the bikes, and then race back to the finish line. The finish was pretty casual, w/ one guy skidding to a stop to parade around in front of his mates, before they told him to get back on the bike and finish the race!!! Gotta love it!
Competitions for the kids included penmanship and drawing the Vanuatu flag.
|Start of the round the island running race|
|The kava drinking competition only had 1 competitor.....no one challenged this guy!|
All in all, a great week spent with the good people of Lamen Bay and Island.....young and old, everybody enjoys a good celebration!
Rovo Bay Market
One day we hiked up the road for a couple of hours with Bennie and Kenneth to the next village on market day. It was a great walk, and we learned a lot about the local history. Especially poignant on the Vanuatu independence day......It seems that before independence in 1980, much of the island was a French owned copra (dried coconut) plantation. The local people were badly discriminated against and the employees harshly treated. We toured the old plantation buildings, now being reclaimed by the jungle, including a hollowed out banyan tree used as the prison. The story goes that at one point, just before independence, French overseers were drinking wine, and mixed up a barrel of wine laced with poison for the villagers. Over 50 were killed. Several of these stories painted a harsh picture of life as an occupied nation. A very sad era indeed.
|Copra drying, nearly ready for export|
|Lamen Bay, with Lamen island in the background on the left|
The market is held every 2 weeks, on the government employee payday, and was good fun, with lots of folks hanging out most of the day with friends from other villages, schmoozing, buying, and selling....we spent a good couple of hours before taking a truck back to Lamen Bay with our purchases. Ahhhhh....."island time".....gotta love it.
We love these biodegradable shopping bags! Takes just a minute to weave one up.
We've long carried a set of bocce balls around on the boat. A lot of fun to bring ashore and get the locals involved in a game. You never know if they'll get into it or not, usually its a hit! We brought them into the beach at Lamen Bay, and the villagers were definitely into it!!! Unbeknownst to us, several of the young men play for money when they go to Port Vila for work, and these guys were amazing players, putting heaps of back and side English on the balls.....We all wanted one of those ringers on our teams!!! A fun afternoon!!!
Many of the islands and bays in Vanuatu are home to resident dugongs, large sea mammals similar to manatees, and closely related to the Hoover vacuum cleaner. We've been to several places known for their dugongs, but kept getting skunked out of a sighting......"You should have been here yesterday...." was the mantra we heard over and over.
Finally, one day in Lamen Bay, the cry of "Dugong-Ho" was heard from a boat anchored nearby. The rascal was swimming all around the anchorage area, feasting on the grass growing on the bottom. We jumped into the dinghy with our snorkel gear, and weren't disappointed!!! Sorry about the bubbles on the lens, but you get the idea!!!
And a couple of videos, hope they load.....uploading video with the bandwidth in Vanuatu is like trying to push a school bus through a soda straw......
Well, that wraps up our Epic stay on Epi.....next up, we'll head over to the Maskelyne Islands and Malekula, home of the Big Namba and Small Namba people (google "namba", for a preview!!!)