As I mentioned last post, we had a ceremony for officially giving Charlie his name. Because the name belonged to a chief, Charlie is an honorary chief now. He definitely has been behaving in chiefly fashion, that’s for sure! He wasn’t too tolerant of having his face painted, so ended up with just a few orange smears instead of the full panorama that I had. The ceremony was really special, and involved a lot of gift-giving, speeches, and significant exchanges. Then we danced like mad, dust flying everywhere, to the special song that was written for charlie. He enjoyed dancing, and really got into the stamping and clapping.
We made sure that while Andrews parents were here to schedule a trip to Mt Yasur, Tanna’s resident volcano. Yasur is the most accessible active volcano in the world; you can stand on the crater rim and watch the lava froth and splosh, and if you are lucky, you can see molten rocks fly into the air above your head. It’s a huge huge experience, and one that brings a lot of tourists to Tanna. I chose not to take Charlie up (while relatively safe, there have been some fatalities over the years). Instead we watched the red glow from the safety of our treehouse bungalow. The others really enjoyed seeing it, although it wasn’t as active as it has been on other occasions when we have visited. On our way home, we stopped at Sulfur Bay. Here, about 10 years ago, during a very turbulent and interesting time in Tanna’s history, some natural hot springs spontaneously emerged out of the geothermal landscape. They all joined together into a steaming hot river/estuary which flows through the sand dunes and out into the sea. Nestled against the cliff face, there are many deep little pools, all steaming hot. Naturally, we all threw ourselves in and wallowed like blissful hippos. It was a cold day, and Andrew and I haven’t had a hot shower in three months. It felt like ultimate luxury to soak away while watching the volcano smoulder and boom in the distance. Surreal.
Then it was back to our village, where Andrews mum brought her cooking expertise to the fore and taught a group of women how to make Paw Paw chutney. There is a plentiful supply of Paw Paw (or Papaya) year round here, so it’s the perfect base for a sauce like this. The smells wafting across the village were incredible, and many many jars were filled full of the sweet chunky sauce and sent to be given to this person or that person. We included plenty of turmeric and ginger to help fight winter maladies. At the right time of year, it can be made with Mango or Pineapple, and I have just tried a chilli sauce that turned out beautifully too. We will look into producing Chutney to sell to tourists, but for the time being it is spicing up taro, bread and rice in homes all around us.
Our busy time of year is not quite over, as the Tanna equivalent of the world cup is about to start- a massive football competition with a huge cash prize. The competition is just one facet of the independence day celebrations which will go until the 30th of July, so there is plenty of activity going on all around us. More about that next time!
Maxine, Andrew and Charlie