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Memorable Visit To Banon Bay in Malekula, Vanuatu

By doina — last modified Oct 23, 2004 09:20 PM

Published: 2004-10-23 21:20:29
Countries: Vanuatu

One of the highlights of my five years of cruising so far has been a visit to Banon Bay in Malekula in Vanuatu. We visited the Kustom Chief in his village where he lives in the traditional way with his extended family. These people are Smol Nambas (I hope I have spelt this correctly). The people are all charming and helpful and many speak English or in some cases French. Three teenage boys befriended us and enjoyed sweet biscuits and tea on board with 4 spoons of sugar in each cup!!! It was fascinating to hear about their lives. They were hit by a cyclone in 1999 when they lost everything so they are always happy with gifts of Tee Shirts, Pens, Biscuits etc. We made a big hit by giving the boys a lilo which had been sitting on the boat for three years! Chief Sitol on request will put on the most fantastic dance show in the bush. The whole village join in. The men dance first in the sacred area where the village women are forbidden to visit and after the women and children dance in a different area. The men wear only penis sheaths made from palm fronds which are then tucked in a sort of wide leather belt. The music is made from seeds wound around their ankles and by the older men (including the chief who is 79 years old) banging bamboo together. The women wear grass skirts and are bare-breasted. They love having their photos taken particularly if you can show them on a digital camera. Even better if you have a little instant printer and can give them a photo. This to me was the spirit of the Pacific and was totally unspoilt by the white man. If you are in the area I urge you to go. Don't be put off by the charge for the dancing the show is worth every vatu and all the money goes to a fund to send the children to school and the sick to hospital. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Carolyn Ash, s/v Spicy Lady