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Volcano Odyssey

On Friday 13th we made our epic adventure to one of Ambrym Island’s famous volcanoes, Mt Marum. We made the journey a 1-day training practical for some local tour guides. Each guide was assigned a section of the track to manage and interpret information along the way.

The night before our journey, we stayed at Isaiah’s bungalows in Ranvetlam, as this is the best starting point for the trek. Two AYAD volunteers have being staying with us throughout the week, so decided to join us on our big adventure.

We began our journey at 7am and walked for 3 hours through beautiful lush rainforest. At the edge of the ash plain where the rainforest ended, we were given a home made javelin made from local cane to throw out on to the ash plain. This local custom ensures a safe journey to the volcano. The walk along the dry ash plain was flat but hot. The guides found a few kinds of local berries to give to us to eat and many put flowers in their hair as decorations. After an hour of walking, we ventured up a rocky river channel to the ridge of the volcano. We were blessed with good weather and no sign of the dangerous winds the guides had mentioned on the way to the top.

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(Flower decorations – looking to the East from the Volcano top)

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(Mat making the final ascent)

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(We made it!)

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(Janelle, Phillipa, Pippa, Matt and George on the Volcano edge)

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(Matt with tour guides on the crater edge)

When we reached the top of the volcano crater, we yelled out a cry of amazement. The crater of the volcano was a huge canyon more than 1km across with sheer cliffs all around. Although there was no lava inside we could see jets of steam coming out of the rock and the smell of sulphur was quite strong and made you cough.

We took photos and then hiked around the rim of the volcano for a few hundred metres to see a smaller crater that joins the main one. This had a little more steam coming out but still no lava.

After a little more gawking at the amazing view we grudgingly began the walk home. It took us more than 4 hours with few breaks and we got home just before dark. Over all it was an exhilarating, amazing and exhausting day.

All the villages in our area have been celebrating Bon Anne (New Year). This involves all the people in one village gathering together with instruments and flowers. They head off to a neighbouring village (sometimes walking for more than 4 ours) and sing songs, dance, clap and cheer to welcome in the New Year. The singing is amazing with up to 50 people all singing in a beautiful harmony. Onlookers throw talcum powder, flour and sometimes paint onto the singers, while homemade fireworks go off. At the end of most songs the leader yells ‘hipi’ then everyone else answers with a deep, booming ‘booray’ (of course a local version of hipip hooray). You can hear the singing and cheering from miles around. After the singing flowers are sold and the host villagers also give gifts of food to the visitors. Bon Anne has lasted for 2 weeks and at the end all the money and food that has been collected is used to host a big end of Bon Anne feast.
Our local village came to sing Bon Anne to us. We then joined them and sang to a neighbouring village. It was heaps of fun but really tiring. It’s amazing these guys have been doing it for the last 2 weeks.

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(Pippa pouring talcum powder onto Bon Anne singers)

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(Pippa and Berry on their way to sing Bon Anne at a neighbouring village)

Posted by pippamatt 14:41

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Nothing is ever dull is it for you two!! I am so envious! Sitting here in my little cave like office, alone, looking at the wall of the neighbouring building - which is black because the sunlight can't get to it ... looking at these amazing photos! You sound like you are having a great time and also doing a great job.

In fact, you have me thinking that Simon and I should do a trip to Ambrym and do some of these ecotours you guys are working on - your blog is the best advertisement!

Take care near the edge of those volcanos now!



by kbolton

Hi Pippa & Matt,
It's wonderful to read all about the stuff that you're getting up to and I'm always look forward to your latest messages and photos. I have to admit that it makes me miss the place! How is your adventure comparing to what you thought it'd be?
Have you met Tim the CUSO volunteer? He's always sending little updates. Please say hello to George for me too. Take care now, Netty

by aruhotas

hey guys i have a new email i really want this address to go idiots have put there names on there so could u please send it to tigereyes266 now if its possible thanks heaps


by kaylie

sorry that addy is at hotmail

by kaylie

Hi Guys did you get the email I sent you last month? I want to chech that the address was right.We love the updates. Brittany & Sharni like the idea of being able to run around half naked all the time!! Take care Mia xx

by Tony Muir

Hellllllllloooooooooooo Pippa and Matt
love reading and keeping in touch through this technology (pigion would be easier) but hope to catch up and come and see ya but need a big pigion to organise me Kathryn R

by kathryn

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