The Village at Port Resolution
August 8, 2004
In order to visit the village of Ireupuow, near the anchorage at Port Resolution, we first pass through the Nipikinamu Yacht Club. Here the villagers have built several thatched huts on a bluff overlooking the harbor to accommodate tourists. The inland guide says that the cost of the huts is $22 per night including breakfast and dinner. Having seen the questionable cleanliness of the people in the village, we would be a bit concerned about the quality of the meals, but one can hardly argue the cost. See Photo #1 Walking a little further along the dirt road you next come to a small cluster of buildings to the right and a two-room schoolhouse built of cinder block. This, too, is on the bluff overlooking the harbor. The main village is farther along and is put together in several small clusters encircling a field used for soccer on the weekends. This is also where the Jon Frum worshippers have their Friday service before hiking 2 hours to a neighboring village and dancing the night away.
When the US soldiers came to Vanuatu in WWII to set up bases to fend off the Japanese, they amazed the local indigenous people with their machines and their riches. The locals knew these fellows as John From America. Before the Americans left Vanuatu they pushed most of this equipment into the sea in order to prevent the Japanese getting their hands on it. Out of this whole situation a new religion was born. These people believe that John Frum will return someday with all his marvelous “stuff”.
On a Sunday afternoon we have gone ashore to see what the market has to offer and find that there is soccer practice on the field. This is absolutely the most action that we have ever seen from the men of the village! We sit down beneath the local shade tree to watch and the men decide to organize into some drills before the game begins. We notice that the drills are carried out in the same manner as the professional games on TV. This must be part of the men’s culture here on Tanna. We decide then to go on to the beach beyond the village to see how the surf is running and must pass beyond the end-posts of the field. Perhaps we should decide to pass up-wind of the field when we return. The smell carrying across the field must also be part of the men’s culture here!
Each of the small clusters of huts around the village hold people who are inter-related. You would fear a great deal of inbreeding when the villages are organized this way, but it is custom for the young people to marry someone from outside their village, often from another island. When we move from Tanna to Aneityum, 50 miles to the south, we will carry two young men with us aboard Satori for the trip. Both of them are from Aneityum and one has recently married into the village at Port Resolution. They want to go home to visit their family and do not have the $90 required for the airfare.
Around the village each cluster speaks the Vanuatu language, Bislama. This is a mixture of English, French and pidgin. Then each cluster of homes speaks a second language, either English or French. Each family sends some of their children to the French speaking school and one to the English speaking school…quite international of them, don’t you think?
As we cross the soccer field to walk on to the lovely beach which is fronted by a reef, the ladies of the far cluster of huts have seen us go through and quickly set up their market- table with vegetables from their garden, shells collected from their reef and baskets woven from pandanus leaves. When we come back through the village they are ready for us and hoping to sell or trade for a few of their things. The women of this village always seem to be working at one thing or another! See Photo #2 The chief of the village is Ronnie, but he has turned over the day-to-day dealings with the cruisers to his son, Stanley, aged 26. On our first visit to the village we took a photo of Stanley’s home. We were enchanted by the lovely garden beside the house and also with the electric washing machine and the electric refrigerator that sit in front of the hut. Perhaps Stanley is preparing for the day that electricity will finally come to the village! See Photo #3
We plan to enjoy a few days on the island of Aneityum (pronounced Anna-Tom) and then we will head north to the capital city of Port Vila.
Best regards to you all,
Jane and Sander