Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lamen and coconut crab

The rain came down in droves last night but with the sun shining in the morning, Jordan and I decided to cross from Epi Island to Lamen Island (Vanuatu) in the dinghy. We passed a few families in their outrigger canoes going in the opposite direction - from Lamen to Epi - to attend to their gardens.

As we approached the beach of Lamen, we were greeted by many high-spirited, exuberant children, all curious of our presence. One young girl agreed to take us to the Chief and the pack followed as they either asked us questions or answered ours. The beach was laden with beautiful Cowrie shells of the brightest colours we have seen yet - green ones, blue ones, purple ones, and even a few pinks. Of course we collected once again!

Upon greeting the Chief, we were given permission to stroll through the village and a Ni-Van (person born and raised in Vanuatu) pointed out a few places such as the school and community hall. He showed us stacked rock formations as a leftover custom that were the equivalent to a land title identifier or Deed for a particular villager and it was considered forbidden to sit or them. He assured us that now it is okay though. We saw several more as we walked throughout the village.

Land Title Deed of property

The huts were all very close together along the hard-packed dirt roads and throughout the village we could understand why these villagers needed to have their gardens (banana trees, yams, taro, manioc, etc.) across on Epi. We have never seen so many people in such close quarters in a village.

Close but happy

We met the school teacher who said the kids would really appreciate coloured pencils so we gave him several plus a few other items we thought the school might enjoy. The teacher was also pleased with colourful sticky stars to attach to a job well done. Unfortunately, 1 item we did not have was a soccer/rugby ball that a few kids had meekly asked us about.

As we returned to our dinghy, a few young boys were just returning from a fishing excursion in an outrigger canoe. It seemed like they had a good time but were disappointed at no big catch of the day. Islanders have such different priorities compared to other children in more well-do-do places.

Young meal providers

With a gaggle of kids yelling and waving goodbye as they splashed into the ocean, we departed for our return to nearby Epi.

Back on Epi Island, we had our first taste of coconut crab at a feast put on by the Lamen Yacht Club (this term here is used loosely as a simple seaside building to serve the visiting yachties). This was a huge crab with quite a nasty disposition that matched his looks. Its big pincer claws were very sharp and dangerous looking. The taste was different. Jordan described it as more earthy than typical crab. We were expecting the taste of having a hint of coconut but apparently they are scavengers and they eat what they can find in their environment, no doubt influencing the taste of certain ones.

Our last day at Epi had Jordan making a mark of 'bin there' by hanging our flag in the Yacht Club. We noted a sign stating that you can join the Yacht Club for 500 Vatu (~$5 Cdn) - can't beat that!

We were here

(The next morning saw the gathering of many of the villagers to the beach to get rides across to the little island community on Lamen to attend the funeral of an old villager...)

Unhappy day

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