Our last few weeks in Villa were really productive with Matt starting his new job and Pippa getting lots of marketing and grant application work finalised. Matt is working for a non-governmental organisation known as Live and Learn environmental education. His main work will be training teachers to pass onto students the importance of caring for rivers in Vanuatu. Some of this work will be carried out on Ambrym Island, some on a nearby island known as Maewo and the rest when we are in Port Villa. We both had a great time in Villa getting lots of work done, eating a wider variety of food, and yes we’ve said it so many times enjoying lots of icy cold drinks.
We decided to travel back to Ambrym on the cargo boat. We had loads of gear and food to get back and the excess freight on the plane would have been a killer. We also saved around $200 just on our fares as the cargo boat was only $50 each! The trip was as good as it possibly could be. We set out from Port Villa at 9pm (only 2 hours late) and arrived at 3pm the next afternoon. The sea was calm, there were only 11 other passengers on the boat and we even managed to grab an hour of sleep or so on the hard wooden benches. (Sometime the boat can be so full that finding a place to sit down is almost impossible and the sea can get really rough!)
(The hive of activity when off loading and loading cargo on to the boat)
We were prepared for the hardships of Ambrym and knew that adjusting back to Island life would be hard after the luxury of Villa. We were right to prepare ourselves – the mozzies are thick, mould is starting to grow on everything, the ants are taking over even to the point of finding their way into zip lock bags, rats are waking us up during the night rummaging through our stuff and more to the point, there is no cold beer! Besides all this, it has felt like coming home with our friends and family welcoming us back warmly as we got off the ship. It has been heart warming to wander around and catch up with the locals and we are realizing how difficult it will be to say goodbye at the end of our stay. The hard work we did in Vila has also been well received and they hope it will result in more tourists visiting their island.
Now that we have been back for a week, we have solved the rat and ant problems, we are getting used to the heat again and our daily routine includes applying mozzie repellant three times. We are once again enjoying having lots of quality time together which is much easier to find without the distractions of modern life.
Talking of modern life, we have set up the solar panel that Pippa’s Dad gave us in our bungalow bedroom. This is just a temporary set up until we move into our new place. Last night we used the light for the first time. It felt a little odd laying in bed reading a book without a head torch on but our eyes will be much better off. When we set up the system properly in our new house, it will be awesome to have decent light in the kitchen while we are preparing dinner. Not sure how many bugs we have eaten in the last 6 months from preparing meals in dim kerosene lamp light! We have also rigged up a small bedside fan which will be a welcome relief on the next really hot day. Pippa’s Dad also bought us a small beer cooler that runs on 12 volts. Our quest for a cold drink is coming closer to fruition! We will keep you posted!
Below is a photo showing the progression on our new house. Doors, the verandah and inside furniture are yet to come. We are looking forward to having our own place (especially with the solar system all in place!), but we will have to get used to the small incline from the bedroom to the kitchen. The guys forgot to use a spirit level during construction, so the floorboards have about a 10 degree slope.
For all those cat lovers out there, we just thought we’d give you a quick update on the kittens. One has been taken to a new family but we are still left with three mischievous playful cute little kittens. There are lots of play fights, random spurts of energy, hungry meowing, adventurous tree climbing and snuggles with Mum.
There also a few new fruits in season. Our favourite would have to be the pomplemousse – the sweetest and most delicious grapefruit we have ever tasted! We also tried samlong fruits for the first time which taste a bit like pomegranates. The avacado and orange season is just around the corner and we can’t wait!