We’ve been rediscovering our christianity since arriving in Vanuatu. In the past weeks Mary Blair has hosted an impromotu bible music jamming session and a sermon in the cockpit. She is now a decidedly blessed boat.
The first missionary to come to Erromango, the unfortunate Reverand Williams, was killed and eaten by the locals. You can still see the rock where they laid out his body, scratched with marks indicating his height, perhaps to work out how many pigs he might be worth. The later missionaries must have been far more convincing as most of the villagers are decidedly devout.
When we arrived the community were preparing to install piping donated by an Australian church group. This is to run from the water source high in the mountains, down to taps in the village. This looks to be a vast improvement in quality of life, as at the moment, all water is carried by hand from the river.
Over the few days that we spent in Unpongkor (Dillons Bay), we were touched by the boundless genourosity of the locals. Right now there are 2 lobster wandering round the fridge (sorry mum) 3 pumpkins, 4 papaya, and bags of sweet potato, taro, green coconut and Cassava hanging from bags in the cockpit.
A fun filled afternoon brought a macabre tour of the village’s old graveyard, up in the cliffs above Chief William’s private beach. Traditionally the bodies would be hauled up into the cave and left to rot down to a skeleton. But like many of the old local ways, the missionaries put a stop to this. The Chief himself showed us around, I worried a little as he clamboured up the cliffs, but despite his eighty years, he wasn’t as frail as he looked. Although claiming to have forsaken all the custom beliefs for a fervent presbyterian passion, he still performed a traditional ‘tok tok’ with the spirits to ask permission to view their bones… Just in case.
He is an educated man and a great story teller. Although his short term memory is a little hazy. We had a slightly surreal hour or so stuck in a loop of the same conversation over and over. Coffee and biscuits on board Mary Blair were capped off with a prayer session and a few hymns, again, and again.
Onwards to Port Vila and the wondrous world of shops and launderettes.
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