I have been a bit busy over the past weeks. There might be some christmas market pics in the next weeks but not sure when I will have time to post them.
Today I was at a concert in the Cologne cathedral. It was a special concert because it was a ‘sing along’-concert and everyone had to bring an instrument. My instrument was my voice. 🙂 We all had lyrics and music sheets. To be honest I didn’t really practice actually SINGING the songs I didn’t know but I listened to the melodies and they did sound familiar (mostly). So this afternoon we went to the cathedral and after having had one ‘test’-singing of all songs the actual concert began. The sound in the cathedral is really cool. It was aired live in TV and the internet. It was really a lot of fun and I will be back next year. 🙂
I have been working on some of the data I brought back with me. One experiment is to have a small video of the eruptions on Mount Yasur. They are very not perfect I know that. But I don’t want to be perfect anyway. 😉 And I am curious if this really works. You might have to click on the link ‘Mount Yasur’ – No, it didn’t work. Have to check if I can somehow make work-
In addition I have created two panorama pics based on several pics that I took for that purpose. One is again Mount Yasur, the other one is a view of Port Vila.
Well, I better finish with my report of my vacation. 🙂 On the way back from Adelaide I had a 9 hour layover in Singapore. It is boring to spend that much time in the transit area although Changgi-Airport is one of the most entertaining and interesting to be at. So I contacted Jim whom I had met in Raja Ampat 5 years ago and he came to get me at the airport when I arrived from Adelaide. We went into the city to the Marine Bay Sands-Building and took the elevator up there. After some sightseeing we went to the restaurant to get a drink and start to catch up. It was of course good to chat again. Then we went down and met Jim’s wife Meredith whom I hadn’t met yet and we went to have dinner at an italian place. The focus of these short hours in Singapore was of course to catch up and hang out so I don’t have that many pictures (and they are dirty – I know – but my sensor is clean again now 😉 ). Thank you, Jim and Meredith, for taking the time to get me at the airport and meet with me. It was good to see you both and I hope it won’t be another 5 years till we meet again. 🙂
After dinner they brought me back to the airport where I waited for my flight. Premium Economy was nicer than Economy again and like on the flight from Adelaide to Singapore the seat next to me was empty. I had some major stress at the train station in Frankfurt because I didn’t find the button for printing pre-paid tickets on the ticket machine. In Cologne it is on the first page but in Frankfurt I didn’t find it. I was in a hurry because I wanted to catch the next train and had only a few minutes. So into the ‘Service area’ where the woman in the booth that freed up next put a sign ‘this booth is closed’ (I was about to shout at her)… with some luck, a delayed train and running with about 50 kg of luggage I finally caught the train and then of course once again there was no space to store the luggage. I know that I am cynical but it never ceases to amaze me that Germain Railway obviously does not expect travellers to have big suitcases… 🙁
And then I was back home… after 4.5 weeks of interesting and wonderful days… 🙂
Although I am already back home I still need to post pics of the ‘Adelaide’-stop above water. You will find pics from the stop in Edithburg and then Adelaide. I was somehow no longer enthusiastic about seeing new places… guess it was a lot that I have seen over the weeks and there is only so much the brain can process. But I definitely would like to go back to South Australia and dive some more there. Here are the pics… next and last pics from the trip will be from Singapore where I had a 9 h-stop and friends came to get me at the airport to spend some time together and catch up. And yes, the sensor of my cam was still dirty but I already brought it to a shop to be cleaned today…
When I woke up this morning around 6 it was raining hard… and I was cold… so after about 2 hours I was at the point to say ‘Let’s just return to Adelaide’… Dan came to get me at 9 and said ‘Let’s go to the Jetty and have a look.’ That’s what we did. By the time we arrived there I had decided that I would probably kick myself once back home if I didn’t go in so we prepared and actually got in the water. It was 16° and we made it about one hour. Dan was going for a Tazzled frogfish first (look a lot like the hairy frogfish in Lembeh) but somehow it had moved on. Instead we found beautiful nudibranches – most of them some kind of orange. The dive site at Edithburg is one of the most beautiful and colourful I have ever had the pleasure to dive. If only IDIOT me had had the correct settings for my camera. AGAIN I had switched them and forgotten to put them back. I could really kick myself for that. The pics are not that bad but I can really do better than that. Especially that beautiful seahorse… *argh* Well, that means one thing: I have to come back when it is warmer and the sea a bit calmer and dive there again… 😉
Thanks a lot, Dan, you found wonderful stuff at that dive-site! Overwater pics will all follow tomorrow…
So this morning at 9 I was at the dive-shop where I met Dan who is my company for the weekend. We drove about 2 hours north to go south again. Actually we can see Adelaide from here in the distance. The wind picked up while we drove. Once arrived in Edithburg we brought our stuff to the caravan park where we are staying and then went to the dive-site where Dan had promised me to do his best to find a leafy seadragon. We got dressed and I found that I should have put on the wetsuit entirely because the legs were fine but the arms were way too wide. So I needed LOTS of weight to go down at all. I felt bad about that already and it wasn’t the most comfortable dive of my career. We had lots of seagrass and due to the wind and the swell it was moving. So something happened that so far has never happened to me before: I got seasick under water. Just when I was about to tell Dan that I wanted to finish the dive he found the LEAFY SEADRAGON. Which is the beautiful and wonderful animal that I came here for in the first place. So I took some pics and I think for the fact that I had to mostly take them ‘blind’ they are not too bad. It is really a stunning animal…
After that we went up because I needed to tell Dan that I was seasick (we were only in about 4 m depth anyway) and then Dan had problems with his ears so he couldn’t get down again. Not the best dive for both of us… BUT: I had my LEAFY!!!! 😉 😀
I still felt sick after about 2 hours (something that never happened before…) so instead of a second dive we went sightseeing and that was fun as well. Those pics will follow tomorrow though. For today you get only the pics of a colourful nudi, the leafy and a shot of the dive-site.
Arrived safely in Adelaide but I think I won’t ever again take an airport shuttle where I can’t decide the pick-up time myself. They picked me up 2 hours before departure time but then someone else still needed to be picked up. And then it was friday and we were stuck in the weekend-rush hour. Shuttle services should know that…. I arrived at the airport with less than one hour to go and the lines at the drop-off were long. 🙁 At security a guy asked me if I was OK because I looked stressed out… I had thought to eat at the airport before departure but there was not time. Arrived at the gate with a few minutes to go before boarding. 🙁
After two hours we landed in Adelaide where the sun was setting and the sky was red. Beautiful. Arrived at my hotel/serviced residence around 8:30 PM – and most shops were already closed and there weren’t that many people on the streets any more. After the hustle and bustle in Sydney I hadn’t expected that…
Now I will probably be off till tomorrow evening, not sure I will have internet tonight.
Sorry, just taking my time today… nearly finished packing. In one hour I need to leave my appartment and then wait another 2-3 h till my shuttle to the airport is coming to pick me up. Flight to Adelaide at 6 PM. Tomorrow morning at 9 I have to be at the dive-shop for another 2 days dive-trip. Not sure where we are going as weather conditions do not seem to be favorable for the planned dive-sites. Well, nothing I can do about it. And as long as I see ONE leafy seadragon I’ll be happy. 🙂
Yesterday when I started thinking about what to do I checked the weather forecast first. And the reason why I did the whale watching yesterday was the forecast of the wind…. So this morning I decided to do the Hop-On/Hop Off-thing to Bondi Beach. I am not usually a fan of the Hop on/hop off-tours and today just confirmed that again. Would have been cheaper to take a normal bus and it wouldn’t have made a big difference…
I had been to Bondi-beach only once on my first visit to Sydney (2002? don’t remember the year) and was not too impressed then. So for today I thought I would go, spend half an hour and then go somewhere else. But when I arrived the ocean was in total uproar and I can watch waves crash against rocks for hours and hours…. so I went on the hike to the next beaches but I saw rain clouds coming in so after a while I turned around to be back at Bondi before the rain hit. It started to drop a bit when I was mostly there but when I went to a cafe to have lunch the rain came down hard. But not for long… all in all I spent more than three hours there. It was totally fascinating. I was just confused because no surfers were out. I always thought they were waiting for big waves so for them it should have been paradise today. On one of the pics there is the red Cologne cathedral… it wanted to go to the beach too… 😉
It started to get cold and the rain kept coming back so I took the bus back to town. For a while I was upstairs but then it started to rain again and I went downstairs. The main thing we did on the Hop on/Hop off bus was – being stuck in traffic… since the bus didn’t stop so you could take pics I don’t really see the big advantage of it. To get a first overview this might be helpful but other than that…
Back in my appartment again and feeling a bit cold again. Will do some washing tonight as tomorrow evening I am flying out to Adelaide and once there I won’t have time for anything… (probably not even blogging…). 🙂 And the pics are somehow in the wrong order (first is correct but then it starts from the end 🙁 )
So this morning when I woke up my throat was hurting and my sinusses were not working well either so I decided with a heavy heart to cancel today’s dives. The thing is… we had a clear blue sky yesterday but the wind was VERY cold. So it had not been a good idea to sit in the wet clothes between the dives without even a towel to protect my body. If I would fly home from Sydney I would have gone diving but that is not what I am going to do… well… as sad as it was I still think it was the right decision.
I had another day ‘off’ then so I thought about what do to do today. My friend Marli from Toronto suggested Whale watching which was something I had already thought about anyway. Checking the weather forecast I saw that tomorrow the wind is supposed to be at least double of what we had today so I checked the lefleats that I had already taken and found one at 1:15 PM. I left the hotel at 9:45 and walked towards Circular Quay where you find the Opera and Harbour Bridge too. The sky was clear but the wind was a bit chilly. I want around for a bit to take pics (with dust on them – sorry again, have to have the sensor cleaned when I get home). And then sat next to the Opera to just enjoy myself, the sun and life in general… shortly before I had to get on the boat for whale watching I saw a plane writing a marriage proposal in the sky. I hope TT said yes…. 😉
Since it was already lunch time I bought a toast and while eating walked towards the quai. What I hadn’t realized was that the seagulls are VERY aggressive… one of them came from behind (even touched my hair) and got part of my toast that I was holding in my hand while eating. Damn birds… 🙁
Once on the water it was fun. We went out of the harbour and then the waiting game began… looking for whales. I had heard that they were breaching these days but once again they seem to do that only when I am not arround. 🙁 We found some humpbacks but it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. I have pics of whales in front of Manly Beach but they didn’t come up in front of the skyline of Sydney city and they didn’t breach at all. *hmpf*
So we went to check out some seals… anyone has a drone that went missing? The seals had one… 😀 😀 😀
After the whale watching tour was over I went to Darling Harbour with the boat and then back to the hotel. Don’t know yet what I will do tomorrow. We will see…. 🙂 now instead of cooling the appartment I am actually heating it up. Way too cold but it is barely spring here so I shouldn’t complain I guess 😉
The pics include the ones from 2 days ago…
Sorry, looks like I skipped one day of blogging and didn’t even realize it. Pics from yesterday will come later. I took it slowly yesterday. In the morning I had some washing to do and then I walked a bit around Darling Harbour. When I found that the Maritime Museum had an exhibition from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year-pics I went to see that. Wonderful pics! But other than that I just didn’t do anything as I needed some time to relax.
This morning I took a taxi to the Abyss Dive shop which is a bit outside of Sydney. I had been diving with them two years ago and they are a real good dive-shop. I was greeted by my guide Matt there. We packed our stuff in his car and were off to Oak Park which is a nice and colourful dive-site. As you will see on the pics there was a lot of sand flying around and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. Wonderful star fish and some cool nudis. We even saw two Port Jackson sharks. I had wanted to see that one so I was happy. 🙂 When I saw the blue groper for the first time I wanted to take a close-up shot but he swam away. Little did I know that he would follow us on both dives and photo-bomb a lot of my pics… 😀 It started to get annoying after a while but I couldn’t chase him away… here are the pics… The underwater world in Sydney is a bit different from what I know – I would say it is a mix between Norway and Mediterranean… somehow… 😉
Well… it was a bit sad to leave Vanuatu but all vacation end sooner or later. Two last pics from there (not sure where the pics are that I made from the plane leaving Tanna). The first one is a landing plane and the second one is Jimmy, my buddy on the shore dives. 🙂
Left Tanna early in the morning and when I arrived in Port Vila I was told that my room was not ready and that check-in was at 2 PM – which was nearly 4 hours away. They didn’t only NOT make any effort to give me a room earlier than that (which is what most hotels do) – my room was not ready at 2 PM either and I am sure they heard that I was seriously pissed off at that time. Since they made me wait nearly 4 hours in the lobby (with all my carry-on luggage I didn’t want to walk into Port Vila) there wasn’t a lot I could do once I finally was in my room. I only walked to the supermarket to get some water and my first chocolate bar in three weeks… 😉 By then it had started to rain a bit and the day was nearly over anyway so I stayed in my room till it was time for dinner. There were a few more people at dinner and it took some time till I could flag someone down to take my order. After about 20 minutes someone else came to ask me if I had ordered and I said ‘Yes, but nothing is coming…’ So she asked for my drink order and at least I got that one after another 5 minutes. Took another half an hour till they brought me TWO pizzas. Since I had ordered only one (and couldn’t even eat that one entirely) I sent the second one back to the kitchen… they waiter told me it was a ‘order one – get two’-offer… but they didn’t tell me until serving so I couldn’t tell them that I didn’t want two… Maybe I should have ordered and paid 1/2 pizza and get an entire one… 😀 😉
After a restless night I felt like crap when I got up at 4 AM. My transport got me at 5 AM and we drove to the airport in the rain. I am happy for the people in Vanuatu that they finally got some rain after a 7 months-drought.
And at 7 AM I had to say IMAM (Good bye) and TANKYU TUMAS (thank you very much) to Vanuatu.
My intention had been to rest a bit during the 3.5 h-flight to Sydney but that didn’t happen. Two kids in front of me that the dad didn’t have under control and next to me two members of a family of 4 who kept switching seats so they made me get up and let them pass all the time. I arrived in Sydney exhausted…
Once I got into my room I was happy again though. I am not staying in a hotel here but in a serviced residence, meaning it is like a hotel but I have a kitchen, washer and dryer in my room (actually desperately need the later today). When I got online I had a message that the boat-dives that I had scheduled for today had to be cancelled due to weather conditions. Which is said but it gives me a ‘day off’ to settle in and get clean clothes again.
I had planned on meeting my friend Vanessa in the afternoon and so I agreed on a meeting point with her and we went to the chinese garden. It was much more interesting there than both of us had thought. I had been there in my first visit to Sydney in 2004 (?) and didn’t remember that there was a lot of wildlife in there. Vanessa was happy with the iguanas we found there (actually she is the reptile-whisperer… 😉 ) and there were a lot of birds, fish, turtle (water) etc. We found little red sculptures too – the first one was a snake and Vanessa at some point realized that they were for the chinese horoscope. So I went in search for the tiger (I am a tiger 😀 ) and finally found it. We spent nearly two hours in there and had a wonderful time. It was really great to see Vanessa again. After we parted ways I went back to my appartment and was nearly too tired to go and buy something to eat but finally did because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast on the plane… Asleep by 9 PM and got some rest… now a day off and probably better start my washing. It is supposed to be a warm day today and I might go to Manly beach to enjoy it.
You know what is heavenly? The first chocolate bar after three weeks… 😉 I am safely back in Vila and when I arrived at the hotel shortly after 10 they told me check-in was only at 2 PM. The hotels I usually know are flexibel and even if you have to wait for a bit they will clean a room for you. Not at the Melanesian in Port Vila. They made me wait nearly 4 hours and when I went back to reception at 2 they had already forgotten me (although I had been sitting in plain sight) AND my room was not ready. I don’t complain easily but they then realized that I was pissed off. The excuse was that check-out time is 10 AM but the thing is that the three times I am here I have flights at 7 AM twice and the third time I left my room at 8:30… and I don’t think that I am the only one to leave my room early. I don’t usually write reviews in TripAdvisor because you get flooded with emails afterwards but for this hotel I will make an exception. And they won’t like it… there is more from my first week here (the room was not cleaned twice in those 6 nights and the hotel is not cheap so I DO expect them to do that).
OK, let’s talk about more interesting stuff… yesterday I had my last day on Tanna and I went on a special tour – custom-made for me by Wayne. I had wanted to go back to Port Resolution which is on the other side of Tanna and I had stayed there two years ago. Since I had heard that two people had died there during cyclone PAM I wanted to go and see how they are.Before I left I got the news that my flight for this morning had changed so I knew I had to pack my stuff after coming back instead of this morning. My driver asked me if I had a swim-suit with me but I told him that I am not going in the water without wetsuit. 😉
We made a first short stop in Lenakel because I wanted to take a pic of the tree house.
Then we went to the other side and when we got the first glimpse of Mount Yasur we knew he was in a bad mood yesterday. I saw lots of women with head-clothes yesterday which was the first time and Illi (not sure if I spelled it correctly), my driver, said that it was to protect it from the ashes of Mount Yasur.
We went past the entrance to Mount Yasur and continued on the road. First stop (after the photo-stops on the lava-plain) was Shark bay. It is a beautiful, black beach – small though – where we could see the baby-sharks close to shore. Going there we drove through the roots of a giant Banjan-tree.
Continuing towards Port Resolution I could see that most of the forrest in the area is basically intact. There are much more devastated areas on Tanna. The banjan-trees there are all still there (although they might have lost a branch or two).
Before finally arriving at Port Resolution we made a detour to the Hot Springs. It is in the same bay as Port Resolution but on the other side. It is 100 °C hot water coming out of the ground and the locals cook in it: bananas, eggs, potatoes… whatever you can just put in hot water. The women are washing with the water too.
Then we finally went to Port Resolution and the first stop was the Yacht Club where I had been staying two years ago. ‘My’ bungalow is still there but it didn’t look like anyone can stay in it. Now the rats have it for themselves. 😉 The other bungalows are all gone. They have built three new ones in a more protected place (i.e. without view on the bay).
Then we went on to the wonderful white beach. Leah’s restaurant that so far was on the beach has moved into the village although the house on the beach is still standing.
We spent some time on the beach and Illi went in the water but got back out quickly as he realized that the water (and the wind) were cold… 😀 😀 😀
Then it was time to go back to Mount Yasur and on the pics you can see that he was rather nasty. Initially he stank a bit (sulphur) but then he threw some ash-clouds on us later. This means I will have to have my camera cleaned again after my return. 🙁 I had cleaned it before going on that day-trip but you can see that obviously there had still been dust inside and the rattle of the jeep on the street must have loosened it up. So you will see black spots on my pics that I am too lazy to remove.
What was a first on my fourth trip up Mount Yasur was that we saw a few flashes in the ash-cloud. I would have loved to get this on camera of course but I was not that lucky. Still, it was once again a very impressive experience.
On the way back the wind made it difficult to see anything on the plain of ashes that we had to cross. There were a two or three spots where it was like diving with no visibility whatsoever. We made it back to the ‘real’ street though without getting lost (seems to happen that drivers get lost and I can fully understand HOW that can happen 😉 ) and then back to the hotel where I had to get ready for my departure from Tanna. 🙁
Just got back from another visit to Mount Yasur and it was once again entirely different from my visit on sunday. It was my 4th visit to the volcano and each time was different. Unfortunately my flight to Vila was changed from 10 to 8 AM so I have to pack now instead of checking pics but tomorrow in Vila I will have lots of time to kill (and the internet-connection will be better too) so time enough to do all that once I am back in Vila…
Today I had my last dive-day on Vanuatu. Did the first one with Jack on a new boat dive-site that they have done only three times so far. When we went down I saw lots of Dories there… 😉 No Nemo’s though. 🙂 It was a really good dive with about ten different nudibranches. Really cool.
And then I couldn’t leave without going back to Circus with Jimmy and we were not disappointed. Apart from the fact that Jimmy found really cool very small stuff we found cannibal-nudis. One of the white with red dots was eating a seahare. I had seen the white one going in the ground and then the head came up again. Afterwards I realized that it had been digging up the seahare. So Jimmy and I stopped there for a while watching her have her afternoon-snack. Absolut amazing if you think that the seahare was not a lot smaller than the ‘cannibal’-nudi. Jimmy found another one eating another nudi but before he could call me she went back into the sand. I saw yellow eggs swimming around as well and only on the pics I saw that it obviously were eggs from the white-cannibal nudi as you can see something yellow inside of them. It was an absolutely amazing dive as a finish for my Vanuatu-dives…
So I went diving again this morning and the Blue Cave divesite is the least damaged I have seen so far. It is still damaged significantly but for the first time I saw a big coral fan and gorgonias. Jack found a wonderful nudi twice and I think the first one just showed her behind (I couldn’t see the other end) and the other one might show her head to the right (not entirely sure though). There were lots of featherstar-babies and you could see that the riff is coming back.
When we went back they dropped me off at the jetty before going to turtle reef with the snorkellers because I had the Black magic tour booked. Again I went with an australian honeymoon couple, this time it was Laura and Tony. I knew a bit what to expect since I had read a report about that tour in a blog but when the guys came screaming out of the bushes it got my by surprise… 😉 We were lead around by Tur (? – don’t remember if that was her name) and she explained things to us. The guy you see up in the banjan tree is the guard. He was crying out when we came over to warn everyone that strangers were nearing. And then there was Jimmy… the two year old youngest member of the village. A cutie who copied everything that the big ones did. 😉 He was the one who was laid on the leaves and then the leaves carried him. We have been told that they carry an adult as well. That is really amazing.
We were shown how the chief put spirits into a stick, then the guys danced around it and in the end we had to get in line and the chief removed the bad spirits from all of us. Then we were shown a bamboo-leave that is really sharp and they use it for the circumcision of the boys (around age 3-4). When we walked over to the next space suddenly Laura was grabbed by her foot and I was glad she was walking in front of me. 😉
The chief showed the ‘Joining of heart’-ceremony and then Laura and Tony joined heart again (done by the chief) which means that they will never get divorced. 🙂 After that we saw another dance to which Laura joined. And then the men lead Tony anyway and he was made chief… it is sooooooo unfitting for a white skin person to wear the chief-outfit… but it was funny. Tony had to drink Kava as well. Laura and I were asked if we wanted to taste as well but I tasted it two years ago and once was enough thank you very much. 😉
Then we were shown some souvenirs made of shells but even if I would have loved to buy a big conch I couldn’t. Would probably be arrested at the airport when arriving in Germany… 🙂
Pics are not chronological but I guess that doesn’t really matter anyway. 🙂
Yesterday evening I went out again to take pics of the milky way but this time with my Olympus camera and the fisheye-lense. The sky was reddish in the background and I was wondering what it was till today I read on Facebook that this is a phanomenon in the South Pacific that comes up with a more or less intensity.
Today two boat dives since I was lazy the past two days. You can see that the reef has major damage but you can see as well that it has started to come back. So it has been destroyed but it is not dead. 🙂 I found something little and black that seems to have four horns but even though I took about 10 pics I am still not entirely convinced that it is a nudi… UPDATE: I just learned that it is a seahare. Aplysia parvula 🙂 It is really cool that there are so friendly people on Facebook who tell you what you found.
This morning I had planned on going back in the water but at breakfast one of the girls told me that someone else had booked a tour that I was interested in so I quickly changed my plans. I was still tired from yesterday evening anyway so I took the rest of the day off as well. I wanted some more hammock-time this afternoon but not sure where my hammock on the beach has gone…
After breakfast I met the honeymoon-couple from Brisbane with whom I was going on the tour to Lowinia village. So we started our drive via Lenakel (the biggest village on Tanna) up into the middle of the island. Along the way the driver showed us a mango-tree and told us that the mangos are for the first time having fruits again after PAM hit. Once arrived we were greeted by our tour guide who kept explaining things to us. And then the kids came running… it is always a bit funny to see the blond kids… first we were shown some traditional cooking. They had done the same thing earlier so we could taste the food we had seen prepared as well. The grated white stuff was yams but I don’t know what the leaves were. It tasted interesting. Behind us there was the cyclone-shelter that needs repairing. We were told that the village needs a bigger one especially since rain kept getting in on the ground.
Then we were led to the main place of the village (a big tree that fell during PAM is now a playground for the kids) where the brother of the chief greeted us. Then another guy showed us how to make fire. Afterwards there was a dance with three men, one boy, a few women and the kids. After the two dances the ‘show’ ended with a ‘shake-hands’ of the dancers. Which included the kids. There was a maybe 2 year old little girl who had to shake hands too. She was too cute. And another little girl shyly touched my arm and my hair – I guess because of my white skin and different hair. Then we were shown some self-made items that we could buy but there was nothing that I could use for anything. And then we were off again.
Seeing village life there it became much clearer to me that they just hang around most of the day because there is not a lot to do (unless they cook or grow the gardens). And women don’t get to say a lot. If there are gatherings, women are not allowed to speak officially only men are allowed. Not sure if this is the same all over Vanuatu but at least in this village women are just there to cook, have kids and serve the men… our guide didn’t seem to be too happy about that (I wouldn’t be either…).
After the village-tour we drove back to Lenakel where it was market day. We had a look around but to be honest, I felt a bit out of place. There were only dark-skinned people there and being one of three with lighter skin made me feel a bit weird… nobody did anything to MAKE me feel out of place (some of them greeted us with friendly ‘Hello’s) but I felt it anyway…
The first pic I am showing you is another milky-way shot from yesterday evening. I was too tired to work on it for the last blog-entry. I took it when we came back from the volcano.
Today I took a day off (diving) and spent the morning in a hammock… 🙂 I wanted to go on one specific tour but the problem is that they don’t do it for just one person so I have to wait till someone else books it. So I went to Mount Yasur instead. This is an active volcano. Going there we had to go to the other side of Tanna and I realized that the island has changed a lot over the past two years. PAM destroyed it but after came the good. A lot of construction work has been done since, especially on the streets. I was totally surprised that they are not nearly as bad any more was they were two years ago. You can still see destroyed and abandoned houses, UNICEF-tents and houses that have only been provisionally repaired. But when we got back in the dark there were way more houses illuminated (meaning they have either electricity or solar power now) than there were two years ago.
Arriving on the entrance to Mount Yasur the organisation has changed. While in the past you just paid and drove on to the parking lot, now all cars have to remain at the entrance. There is a welcoming ceremony for everyone, there is a welcome and a volcano dance and then the chief drinks a Kava for everyone’s safety. He does that hidden from the visitors so I have no clue if he actually drank it. Don’t think it is a lot of fun to have to drink that stuff every day… 😉 Then we were all loaded into other cars and drove up to the parking lot. From there we were guided up to the rim of the crater. While I understand that they somehow need to ensure the safety of the visitors it was a big like a flock of tourists… 😉
Once up there we went to the crater and it was one heck of an experience. Activity is much higher than it was two years ago when I was there and it was just AMAZING…
So yesterday eveing I went to participate in an ‘John Frum’-excursion. This cult is some kind of religion only on the island of Tanna. I had thought that there would be a flag-raising (I had seen pictures of that) but that was not what happened. There was a gathering house in a village where 6 men with guitars were already sitting with some villagers around them. They started to sing then and people started to dance. After a while I realized that women were dancing on one side while the men were dancing on the other side. And the women were wearing special gowns that remind of the Kustom dances. It was a very special evening… they gather each friday evening and when members of the cult come over from other villages they sing and dance till the next morning. Didn’t happen yesterday but I really enjoyed it. It was very dark (just one lamp) so the pics are not the best. Video would be better because without the music he pics are only half the fun… but I have to check when I get back how to best upload them. When I took the pics (standing below the lamp) two guys come to me and asked if I could take their pic. 🙂
This morning we went diving in Blue Hole 2 and that was nice. Inside the big pool the corals are still colourful while outside they have been damaged by PAM. In the afternoon I went with Wayne, the owner of the resort, back to the Circus-dive site where I have already been 3 times so far. Found one new flatworm, one nudi we found the day before yesterday as well, something I honestly have no clue if this is a flatworm… and on that dive-site there are lots of little balls that are actually eggs (not sure if fish, octopus or nudibranches). And I saw one where a little crab was inside and thought it had been caught inside… then I saw another one that had three things inside that looked like nudibranches. So I think that the crab and the nudibranches were inside eating the eggs…