We wanted to have an adventure and pulled over on the side of the road when we saw a small sign pointing to a waterfall. It was AMAZING and such a beautiful hike. I made a video about it: Enjoy!
Today we went on a nature walk to find the aloe vera plant. I’ve been drinking the juice and it’s been helping me feel better so I thought I’d try making my own. Sure enough we found massive aloe plants and the guy who owned the property was happy to let us pick them. Here’s a little tutorial on how we made our aloe juice! Enjoy my video 🙂
The little girls came home and picked and sold papaya to all their neighbours while Dad took Eliza for a trip into town on the quad to the private hospital and out for lunch (she dislocated her arm doing somersaults on the beach).
Hey Guys, I had so many positive responses from my blog post about our trip up the river that I decided to make a movie 🙂 Enjoy!
There are not even words to describe the perfect day we had today.
As we flew down the road yesterday bumping along in the back of the truck we saw beautiful canoes all carved in the custom style lining the road. The sign said blue hole and our driver told us that if we paid 1000vt ($10USD) then we could have a ride up the river. It sounded pretty fun and so today when we passed the canoes again we stopped to take a ride.
A rusty chain hung around the gates and nobody was to be seen. Not to be discouraged our driver said he knew where the owners would be. So we went on a bit of drive checking in and out of different village houses until we finally found someone who knew where the owners were. I guess they were napping in the grass. After explaining that we would like to canoe up the river on one of the boats and paying him the advertised fee we all climbed in. It was simply amazing!
Once we got settled and the chatting and laughing subsided, (with our group that rarely happens) Ben (our guide) paddled us up the river. It was like magic. The birds were singing in the trees and the only sound was the paddle hitting the water. The words running through my subconscious brain spilled into my consciousness. Peaceful. Tranquil. Magical. Sacred. If nature could pray it was like witnessing the prayer of the earth to Papa God. It really was a extraordinary.
We got further and further into the jungle and now vines were dangling in seemingly mid air with oversized pods and spiders and other creatures living with them. The white sand of the river bottom was visible the entire time and schools of tiny fish made appearances here and there, dancing around the boat and going on ahead without us.
After probably 20 minutes of paddling, and much sooner that we wanted we turned the corner and there was the blue hole. A glistening pool of deep turquoise blue in the middle of the jungle.
So out of place amongst all the greens and browns that we had been seeing, the blue hole looked like a secret hiding in the forest.
After playing, rope jumping, feeding fish and exploring the surrounding gardens and paths we persuaded Ben to take us all the way down the river and to the open ocean. It was nearly just as beautiful as our trip up the ocean and a few times during the trip Dan or Eric or Lindy burst out in song unable to express the reverence for the surroundings in any other way. Sometimes I wonder what it would do for the soul to be constantly surrounded by so much beauty. It certainly agrees with my soul!
I also considered how lovely we thought the river was and not knowing what was at the end of it, all of us could have happily stayed and played in the shallow pools all day. However, just like God’s plan for us, He knows what is ahead, and He has much greater, and grander plans for us than we could ever imagine.
How could my life be transformed if I would quiet down for while and trust in the Almighty?
Well the jury is no longer out if this was the right place to come.
The day was spent in water so turquoise and white sand beaches that were so soft and beautiful that you truly didn’t believe your eyes. #nofiltersneeded
Massages on the beach, swinging in hammocks, exploring sunken ships, and eating delicious food at stunning restaurants is what we did all day. It was perfect and truly the most relaxing, fun, day I could have imagined. #mustbeparadise
Well it was a really hard decision but in the end we all decided to leave our kids and take a three day trip to the most coveted neighboring island- Santo!!!
Santo is the largest island in the Vanuatu chain (and the most beautiful too I’m told). Ever since I first heard about it and saw pictures of endless white sand beaches I knew I had to visit while we were here and now was as good a time as any 🙂
Finding proper supervision for our kids at home was stressful (especially with the sudden influx of boys that have started frequenting our beach since we moved in). But we finally settled on leaving the under the care of the house girl (whose older than I am) and my very, very responsible 17.5 year old daughter. At first I thought that I for sure couldn’t go because it’s always so hard as a mother to leave your kids but But THREE days with my husband all to myself was too difficult to resist so I gave them very strict instructions, and left them with two machetes and a dog. Hopefully they won’t be needing to use them but around here you never know. And now here we are on a spur of the moment last minute trip to Santo!
Well here we are. We arrived after nightfall and have already had a bit of an adventure. I made a little video:
We walked back to the hotel after eating dinner for $5 at the market stalls and happily they had sorted out our room problems. So I am now off to bed and will make more videos and pictures tomorrow when I’ve had a chance to explore!
We wanted to see the turtles and the local man told us that little tiny island off the coast of Efate was the place to go. After parking your car you were supposed to walk to the dock or wait until someone in a boat offers to drive you. Once they arrive you pay them 1$ for each person in the boat and get dropped off at your choice of spots on the little island.
It worked! We waited on the dock and within a few minutes a boat showed up and offered to drive us. In went the Women, in went the children, and in went the men, then when you thought we couldn’t possibly fit another person, in went the jugs of water, the bundles of coconuts, and the bags of groceries. It was epic, and kinda stressful-I was so glad the boys had their floaty suits on!
At first I thought maybe the island was so close that it didn’t matter if we sunk or not, but it took a good half an hour at least on the ocean to get there.
The day was bright and sunny, and the water was so crystal clear and turquoise blue that you could see right to the bottom. Isaiah could not resist dragging his hand through the water as the boat moved forward and I couldn’t blame him.
Because the tide was out when the boat driver was dropping people off there were places where he had to pull up the engine, hop into the water and push the boat over the coral growing in the white sand beneath us just to get people close enough to the shore. They still had to carry their bags and bundles through the ocean just to get home.
When we finally got to the white sand beach with clear turquoise water the boat driver asked when we would like him to return and after I told him he sped away.
It was magic! The beach was covered in sand dollars and starfish. The kids spent hours picking them up, finding out they were still alive, letting them go, and discovering all kinds of interesting facts about them in between!
The tide was out and there were so many truly fascinating things to discover on the reefs, in the ocean, and in the tidepools.
The sea urchins were plentiful today so the barefooted beauties had to be careful not to step on them. The last time someone got stung by a sea urchin it was disastrously painful, so we were very happy that situation was avoided today:)
Locals were like little ants in the distance collecting shells and trapped fish for dinner, filling their buckets and bags as they laughed and chatted.
We never actually saw a sea turtle, however, we saw so many other amazing things it didn’t even bother us in at least. The only thing we were missing on this perfect day was my second oldest daughter who had decided to stay home on the adventure.
What do you think, could you handle a day in paradise?
#Vanuatu #Ifiraisland #icouldntbehappier
There were 7 weddings in the village this week, the girls attended two of them.
There is only one day in the month in which you are allowed to get married regardless of what church you belong to, so last Friday was full of celebrations for everyone!!
Apparently every man in the family over a certain age goes to purchase the bride from her family the day before the wedding. All the Village gossip was about the extraordinary price that their family had brought to purchase the bride.
With the minimum wage being $2 an hour here the bride gift Of $1350 USD was unheard of!! The Vanuatu government passed a law 10 years ago saying that no brideprice over $800 was allowed, but I guess people are still willing to accept higher bride prices when offered.
In addition to the bride price, one week prior to the wedding every member of the grooms family must take off work and move into the grooms village where they spend the week preparing for the upcoming celebrations. In this case they killed five cows and two pigs for their feast amongst many many other things!
Once a bride and groom have been married you throw flour on the couple to show your support of their union.
Marriage here in Vanuatu is pretty much a matter of practicality. I’ve only seen one couple who looks even remotely in love and even they said that one day the bride received a phone call from a distant cousin who she had spoken to only once in her life. “Can I take you to the Mormon temple to get married after you get home from your two years of service?”
The young girl presented the name to her Family, and they discussed the pros and cons of the union. After two days they decided that he would be a suitable match. So she called him back and said yes. When her service mission was finished he picked her up brought her to the temple in Fiji and they got married. They are now living in two separate countries, as he is in Australia trying to save money for the island wedding well she works here in Vanuatu.
When I asked about their island wedding, she said they would probably celebrate that in two or three years. The trouble is in order to have a custom island wedding The family of the groom must pay a high bride price as well as all the costs for the celebrations. This puts a great financial burden on the family purchasing the bride.
If by chance you want to get married but are not able to afford the price of your bride you can give your first born daughter to your brides family. They then get to keep your daughter for the rest of her single life. That’s the case with my brothers house girl and their first born which they haven’t seen since giving away.
It’s so sad to see some of the local customs that are clearly trapping people in financial bondage or sadness. Weddings and funerals are particularly expensive for locals in Vanuatu.
One woman I know well said that after her husband had been requested to share his seed with other woman in his home village she wanted to leave him. She took the pikinins with her and boarded a boat. He found out before the boat left and also boarded. When he found her he beat her until she was unconscious and then threw her overboard. He jumped over himself and swam them both to shore where he announced she could not leave him. She’s been with him ever since.
I will be celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary with Eric soon. Our marriage is by no means without stress but I am grateful that at least he doesn’t drink Kava all night, beat me, share his seed or give our children away.
Thank goodness for the values that we share that make marriage just a little bit easier!!
Late last night my 15-year-old came into my bedroom to sit down and chat.
There was rarely time for this back at home, however, with no TVs or computers, iPods or radios, Island living somehow makes space for beautiful things to grow.
Vanuatu is a tiny group of islands off the coast of Australia classified as a Third World country.
The cost of fuel, food, rent, internet, electricity, gas and a vehicle are all either the same as or higher here in Vanuatu than at home in Canada.
I looked over at my daughter sprawled across the bed, her island braids falling at her side.
“mom, it’s so weird, the people here have nothing. Their clothes are worn out and ripped, they have to walk hours to get anywhere, grown adults work all day for $1.75 an hour, their family members die all the time, and yet for some reason they are still so happy”
I Lay in bed pondering her comments. What does make us in North America so unsatisfied with our lives? So full of independence, and fear, and anger and hatred? So quick to bully, to be a victim, to point fingers, so eager to complain, so insistent that ‘fairness and justice’ be served. There is nothing fair about this life here, but I have rarely seen even one person show signs of dissatisfaction due to the inequality of their situation.
Every day children are separated from their mother and father and are given to relatives to satisfy a debt or a custom ceremony.
Cyclones, tsunami’s, & earthquakes flatten their little tin shacks and destroy the precious food growing in their gardens.
People die often because of infections, lack of medical care, and preventable diseases.
But the people here are not sad, the opposite is true actually. Friends and strangers alike kiss each other on the cheeks, touch each other as they pass by, and yell out greetings as they bump along the dirt roads in the trucks and buses.
I have not met a single person that does not have a deep faith in God. Their faith is not something to be ashamed of. On Sunday, every store shuts down and every person returns to their family and their separate churches to worship. If a cyclone is approaching the community prays together and on the radio, and at the local market it is announced for people to repent, and remember God.
Here where the dogs and chickens wander into church and the graffiti on the wall says “Jesus Saves”, Gods masterpieces, and His miracles are all around us and nobody is ashamed to point them out or to praise them.
In some ways our fancy, fast, first world country is ahead of these simple island people, but in many ways we are so far behind.