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Season greetings

We hope you all had a lovely Xmas and New Years Eve.

We have filled this festive season with family feasts, snorkeling adventures, gardening and relaxing on the hammock. Christmas on Ambrym was certainly a unique one that we will treasure always…

We listened to carols in local language at the church on Xmas Eve and although we didn’t understand the words, the harmonies of the locals were beautiful.

On Christmas morning, we opened up our parcels from Australia including an awesome board game, xmas table cloth, tea towel, calendars, boules, smelly soap, lollies and books – thank you everyone who sent us a little something!!

Pippa put on her colourful Mother Hubbard dress and we ventured down the hill to enjoy pancakes, bread and tea for breakfast with our ‘adopted family’. We gave everyone a small gift including marbles for the kids, family photos, tea towels and cards. We enjoyed a lunch under a big tree together consisting of banana and pumpkin lap lap, delicious roasted pork (a whole piglet cooked in a wood fired oven), pineapple, cucumber and rice. Although we didn’t have mince pies, turkey and a cold glass of wine, we felt pretty spoilt to be enjoying such a delicious feast. It was the most tender and moist pork we have ever tasted.

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(Pippa sitting with her adopted family about to eat the Christmas feast)

We spent the afternoon with the nurse Rosie’s family (next to the bungalow). It was beautiful weather, so we all lazed under the shady trees, played with the kids and their new toys we had given them (including a boomerang, frisbee and bubbles), Matt played the guitar with Stephen (nurse Rosies son) and we ate some more food as we watched the sunset! Overall, it was a lovely day although we did miss you all back home!

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(Kids pram – Vanuatu style)

(Christmas Day sunset)

The day after Christmas is known as Family Day here. We enjoyed a relaxing day with our adopted family, Rosie’s family and Laan Douglas (our counterpart) playing boules, cards and eating local island food.

Willie, a Canadian friend/CUSO volunteer stayed with us over the Christmas period.
On Tuesday, we all went snorkeling along a massive drop off with incredible fish and coral. From the surface you see a small cliff coming out of the water but when you get in the cliff continues underwater as deep as you can see. Visibility was probably 20m but no sign of the end of the cliff could be seen. We were all a little nervous as we snorkled along the cliff because of how deep the water was. We felt a little exposed on the surface and so kept a close look out for sharks. At one point the cliff wall jutted right out in front of us so we had no idea what was around the corner. After a few deep breaths we worked up the courage and swam around the corner to come face to face with a massive 6ft groper. Not sure who got a bigger fright, him or us, but after the initial shock we watched him for a while and he watched us. We also saw a massive pod of dolphins and our first turtle, unfortunately after we got back out of the water!!
On the way back to the village we passed a bunch of boys swimming in a beautiful fresh water spring. We are told that there are quite a few turtles here! Maybe a place for our next snorkel?

(Snokelling in the warm tropical waters of Vanuatu)

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(Matt and Willie with boys at the natural spring)

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(Local boys cooling off in the sea splash)

We also spent a day with our adopted family making a traditional meal called tuluk. It took all day and involved grating manioc, scratching coconut, milking coconut, cooking bully beef, onion and garlic, wrapping it up in lap lap leaves and roasting it in the fire. It ended up being delicious! We also planted a mango tree with the family to commemorate our stay here on Ambrym.

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(Kremer, Pippa and Nevin grating manioc)

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(Eta, Nevin and Kremer preparing the tuluk to be roasted in the fire)

The locals have decided they want a constant stream of volunteers to help this community As a result, the bungalow owner has decided to build a house dedicated to volunteers next to the tourist bungalows. We will soon be living local style in a house made from 100% natural materials. The house will be big enough for a small kitchen and bedroom and has a stunning view over the valley to the beach below. It should be complete in a month or two.

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(Our new house)

Posted by pippamatt 20:58

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Hi Matt and Pippa
The sunset is beautiful, I bet there will be some precious memories from this trip and a look through the photographs that you have taken will be all that you need to re vamp the memories.
Your new house with be very modern with your own kitchen.
I really enjoy reading about your adventures and look forward to the next episode.
Miss you both.
Love Ma

by KerryC

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you both Matt and Pippa!!
I'm loving reading your adventures and seeing your fabulous pictures, what an incredible adventure!!
The weather has been extremely hot here with a bushfire reaching to the very edge of good ol' Murray Bridge. Christmas was nice and Amy P is now an old married woman (hehe), Glen has packed up his office and has finished work here (yes, you can believe it...) and we have another admin girl starting. Our new contracts have (or have not) been signed and as of next week we are the BIG NRM BOARD workers. Dani won Survivor over Steph (not sure if you care, or it was on before you left...) Anyway, I'm trying not to bore you with too many details....
Miss your smiling face in the office Pippa, it's not the same without you!! Can't wait to read about your next adventure.
Take Care,

by LyndalObst

G'day Lips! It's Moles! hehehehe. It's been a long time Matt since we've chatted.
You look like you're having the time of your life on Ambrym. I'm really, really jealous. It's pleasing to see that you're involved in something that is so beneficial to the community you're staying with and also so rewarding for both you and Pippa. I feel like I'm really missing out here. hehehe.
I just wanted to say g'day and to give you my contact details so we can stay in touch. I realise that it may be sometime before you can respond to this due to your circumstances. Anyhow, keep up the excellent and exciting work in Ambrym. I'm sure that the locals appreciate what you and Pippa are doing for them.

Cheers from Oz.

by roganp

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