A Travellerspoint blog

December 2005

Merry Christmas

In the wind down to Christmas we have been busy running tour guide training, testing tours, writing information for tourists and gathering material for a grant application for a tourism information centre. Work is going along nicely and the community seem to be very happy with what we have been doing. We hope our efforts will result in many happy tourists departing Ambrym and spreading the news of this amazing place to their friends back home.

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(Happy tour guides)

Below is a photo of our newly accredited tour guides who over two days gained practical experience in welcoming tourists, good hygiene, developing tours, and presenting information to tourists in an informative and interesting manner. We were lucky enough to have the story of our tour guide training picked up by the national newspaper of Vanuatu with a half page spread and photo.

Cyclone season is upon us and the owner of our Bungalow organized a renovation to make our Bungalow Cyclone Proof. Apparently if you tie green coconut leaves to the roof they help to keep the roof on in the event of a cyclone. The locals seem very confident about this technique, although we will be very happy not to have to test it out. We will both be pretty scared should a cyclone come.

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(Cyclone proofing our bungalow)

The weather is still so hot. Some days it can be completely still for hours on end and when you lay down for your midday nap you drip with sweat. On these occasions our hand fans and cold showers offer a brief respite. When the rain comes it offers relief and its nice to fall asleep to the sound of it on the thatch roof of our bungalow. The mosquitos have really kicked in and we are in the routine of wearing repellant and burning mosquito coils most of the time.

Kids are in school holiday mode now. There is no cinemas, nintendos, or bowling alleys here so kids entertain themselves by using rubber sling shots (to kill flying foxes and birds for a midday snack), playing cards, swimming or kicking around a ball.

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Laan behind, then Walter, Jomai and Donal in front on the hunt

We were having a nice evening walk recently when we came across a large group of families sitting by the water. We took out our camera out to take photos of a few kids in the water which caused a stampede as every kid in a 50m radius bolted for the water to be in the photo. It was hard to get the right shot so in the end we settled for a group photo on the beach.

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After the stampede.

And now the Christmas message from the Queen. Na just kidding…..

We hope you all have a beautiful Christmas with your friends and family. Make sure to have a cold beverage, a nice cut of tender meat and fruit mince pie in honour of us! We love you all, miss you heaps and look forward to our return to OZ in September 06.

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Posted by pippamatt 21:13 Comments (2)

First times

We have settled into our life here on Ambrym and have become familiar with much of our surroundings and the goings on in the nearby villages. However over the last week we still managed to experience a few more firsts:

- Our first big earthquake; our chairs shook and the crockery in the cupboard rattled for a few seconds. Some of you may have heard that a Volcano on Ambae (a nearby island) has been erupting. We can only just make out the smoke from the erupting Volcano from our local beach so it is a fair distance from us…no worries for us here….but perhaps the Earthquake was related to the Seismic activity around the Volcano?

- We were the first tourists to visit an amazing waterfall about 4 hours walk from our Bungalow. This honour was bestowed on us as part of our work here on Ambrym. Local guides are developing new tours and we are helping them test and improve these tours. The waterfall adventure tour as this new tour is known went off quite well even though we had to slog through the rain for most of the 8 hour return walk. The 40m high waterfall at the mid point of our journey was breath taking and set amongst pristine rainforest. During the tour we had our names discretely carved in a Banyan Tree declaring our presence as the first tourist to the area. Another first – we were invited to plant a banana tree and kava (the local narcotic) bush.

(The waterfall photo we will use on the advertising brochure)

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(Proud first tourists!)

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(Boys hiding from the rain during our practice tour)

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(Hopefully many bananas for the locals from this one!)

- We had our first big dose of tropical rain, it lasted for 3 days and felt as if it was never going to end. Some of our things went mouldy, and clothes were impossible to dry. The coming wet season will certainly be quite a challenge for us both.

- We saw our first use of bush medicine. We were wandering through Ranon village when we noticed a small arrow being constructed using broken glass for the tip and a tiny stick as the shaft. A mini bow was then produced and we thought a toy was being made or perhaps a miniature animal hunt would soon begin. However the true prey was soon revealed. The feet of a man with injured knees. The bow was drawn back and the arrow was repeatedly fired into the skin of the victims feet. This we were assured would release the pressure inside the leg and reduce the pain the patient was feeling in his swollen knees. Acupuncture Vanuatu style?

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(Bush medicine in action)

Posted by pippamatt 17:28 Comments (0)

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