After the thrill of watching the land-diving, we headed back to Londot village and picked up the coconut bread we had ordered. We sat and ate much of the still warm rolls under a tree and talked with Luke and Noel about the event. Then we went back to the boat and enjoyed watching dugongs (manatee-like sea animals) playing around the boat. Of course, they would never stay up long enough to be photographed! Shy perhaps. But it was fun to see them frolic.
We went back to shore around 1600 (4 pm), so Barbara could interview a few people about he land-diving. There was also some kava drinking involved! They actually opened the kava bar early for us and made up a batch of the special Vanuatu brew. It is quite different from the Fiji kava – a stronger, spicy, peppery taste. The intoxicating effect was felt immediately in the mouth – which is good because it doesn't taste all that great!
After a few bowls of kava and chatting with the locals, we headed back to Astarte. We had been rowing ashore because it is easier to lift the dinghy up on the beach without an outboard. We did manage to get safely back!
That evening, sitting in the cockpit, reliving the wonderful day of seeing land-diving and dugongs, plus some kava drinking we watched a red glow of the volcano from Ambrym – the next island over. The sky was very dark and clear and the red glow was quite intense. It seemed to be the perfect end of a very magical day.
We stayed on Pentecost a few more days and on Sunday took a very long walk down the main road towards the north. We passed over several small creeks and larger river. We met Joseph along the way and he wanted to practice his English, so he walked with us for more than three hours. He was from the French Catholic village – which is quite large. The island is divided, much like the country was during the French/British condominium (shared) government. His village school is taught in Bislama (the national Vanuatu language) as well as French and the local village language "Saa."
Joseph gave us a wonderful tour of the island pointing out trees,birds and flowers. He then walked us through his village which has all traditionally built homes. These are homes built entirely of natural products grown in the area. The walls are woven palm strips and they are very pretty homes. We got taken into the "nakamals"- the community room of the village. This village is so large – there are actually three different nakamals. These long narrow buildings are where meetings are held to discuss village business; where kava is made and shared nightly along with stories; and, where people relax. In one of the "nakamals" some men were playing cards. In another some roofing material that had been made was being "dried" and stored. We got shown a traditional homes "kitchen" hut which has two stone cooking areas plus lots of baskets for collecting food from the gardens. Then, Joseph took us to the primary school and we saw the classrooms and the small library. Because it was Sunday, it was pretty quiet in the village.
We returned the following day to bring some pictures we had printed up for Joseph (of his family) and then we went to the river right next to the village and did some water-filter cleaning and laundry in the beautifully clear river. It was a busy day but it was nice to take a fresh water bath!
After returning to the boat, we got the boat ready for a trip to the next island – leave time would be bright and early in the morning.
Our stay on Pentecost Island was memorable.