Ambrym, day 1

I had to get up very early to fly out to Ambrym as the flight was at 7 AM. Turned out that it was too early to get any coffee at the hotel and the cafe at the domestic terminal at Port Vila airport is closed until further notice… So no coffee for me but I survived. 😉
The flight started earlier than 7 AM, they probably wait for everyone to be there and then they just go… the plane was a Twin Otter and it was funny because I could see what the pilots were doing. We had to stop at two more airports before arriving at Craigs Cove where I was going. But since you got a boarding pass with an assigned seat that nobody cares about you probably get the picture that the stay at the small airports were short. The ones who needed to get off, got off, some more passengers came in and we were off again. I got off at the first stop but that was where I learned that everyone else just remained seated… On the first pic you see the airport of Paama and on the second one you see the runway of the Ulai-airport. 😀
After about 1 hour we were in Craigs Cove where Ray came to get me. After a short truck ride we arrived at the boat that was to bring me to Ranlon. First we went to the shop though as I wanted to buy water. It was sunday morning, a quarter past 8, the shop was closed but Ray just called the owner and that very friendly couple sold me my water (and other people needed stuff too). Nothing like ’shops are open from 9-5 and closed on sundays… 🙂
The boat ride to Ranlon was a bit long (about 2 hours) and under the blazing sun with no shadow I think I burned my head. Once we arrived at Solomon Douglas Bungalows Freddy and Em were waiting for me and as soon as I was in the shadow I felt better. Em made me a real good lunch but it was way too much to eat it all. And Freddy started to make plans for/with me. I had already booked a ROM-dance for the next day but Freddy told me that there was another village that does it too. So I decided to watch it twice. And in the evening the women were to do some water-music for me.

The truck to go to Olal-village for the ROM-dance arrived at 2:30 (I think) and off we were on roads that are mostly not really roads. You see part of the ‚main road‘ on the 7th pic. I had to hold on tight to the handle. 😉 And I was in tourist-class (meaning next to the driver) while everyone else was in the back – and got wet when it started to rain a bit. Once we arrived at Olal-village the chief made us wait a bit and then we were called to the ’show‘-area. Behind that I think is the ‚taboo-zone‘ where you shouldn’t go unless you are part of the ‚gang‘. And let me tell you a bit about the Rom-dance. The costumes they are wearing on my pics are not the ‚real‘ ones. The real costumes are worn only once during the Rom-festival and afterwards they are burned to the bad spirits can’t stay. Or something like that – I have to look it up. I had seen those costumes on pics and I found them so fascinating that I flew to Ambrym just to see that.
The first dance the Olal-men did was the Lepie-dance, then the Kinkinje-dance and afterwards it was time for the ROM-dance. You will see on the pics that the men have only small palm-leaves on their penisses. They are part of the Small-namba-tribe that uses small palm-leaves to wear (as opposite the Big nambas that us big palm leaves). I had seen small and big namba dances on the island of Malekula two years ago but as opposed to Malekula on Ambrym they never ate humans. So Malekula is really the cannibal-island even if the tribes are the same.
Once the Rom-dance started I was totally fascinated. They costumes is mainly big palm-leaves and they are moving them with the stick they are carrying so this adds more rhythm to the music (they sing and the chief gives the beat). They stamp their feet as well and since the ground was very dry it was a rather dusty dance. And I was in 7th heaven… 🙂
After the dances I had to say my goodbyes (by shaking hands with Chief Sekor and the dancers) and then we were off with the truck again.
Later when it was about to get dark Freddy came to get my from my bungalow and the ladies did a coconut-game first. Then Em did some sand-drawing (you will recognize the turtle that she drew) and afterwards they went in the water to do water-music. I hadn’t known that by moving your arms in the water you can actually get a rhythm and some kind of music out of it. I have a small video of it but I have to see how I can best upload that. Will be after my vacation… So now enjoy the pics…

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