Guest Sharon Johnson and her husband were on Volendam for the trans-Pacific voyage to Sydney and the circumnavigation of Australia for 55 days. Enjoy this post and photos from their call at Port Vila, Vanuatu.
We sailed into Port Vila very early in the morning. It was only an overnight sail from Fiji, but we lost a day due to the crossing of the International Dateline. We took a tour to “Ekasup Cultural Village” which has won several awards (Vanuatu’s “Best Tourist Attraction”) for their presentation of Melanesian customs. Melanesia means black islands. We drove out of Port Vila, crossed a river and rode along a very good paved road past houses before turning down a road to the Ekasup Village. We were greeted by our guide who lead us along a path to the village. Before we arrived at the village, warriors silently appeared out of the jungle to challenge us — we were in their territory. And until about the 1860’s it would have been cannibal territory. – Sharon and Al Johnson
The spokesmen then led us to a clearing where we could sit down. He explained how his tribe would have stored food for usage in times when food was not readily available. He told us that the rainy season brings strong winds and sometimes cyclones which knock down all the fruit in the trees which the tribe couldn’t possibly eat all at one time. And if they didn’t prepare the fruit for storing, the fruit and vegetables would rot. Notice the huge bunch of bananas. He took one of the bananas, peeled it and then scraped it on a rock making what looked like to me — banana purée. They then squeezed the banana puree to remove all the water. Then the strained bananas were placed in a pit lined with huge banana leaves. When food was needed, they would take the dried bananas and add coconut milk thus reconstituting the bananas. Bananas can be stored up to three years using this method.
Our Ekasup guide told us that the girls of the village get married around 18 to 20. The men get married later as they have to give a dowry for the girl that they marry. Most of the marriages are arranged. And they get married for life.
After leaving the village, we drove through Port Vila seeing the sights — their Parliament, Police Station, French Quarter and also Port Vila’s Chinatown. Until 1980, Port Vila was governed by both the French and British. Our guide told us that during that time they had two police stations and two hospitals. After independence they combined the two police stations into one.