Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Traditional Way of Life on Lifou

Carving at Easo, Lifou
Our next stop on our Pacific Island cruise itinerary couldn't have been more different from the last. We went from a capital city with European influences and all mod cons to a traditional, quiet
Melanesian village on a coral island.
   The captain had assured us that although Lifou was a tender port, it was in an almost enclosed bay (Baie du Sandal) of calm water so getting ashore at Easo wouldn't be a problem. He was right.
   Local Kanak people entertained with tribal dances and songs; others offered hair braiding and massages on mats alongside the path. I think all the girls on the ship had their hair braided. In traditional thatched buildings, souvenirs, postcards and sarongs were on sale along with Movenpick ice-creams. Now that was a surprise!
   In contrast with a port of call such as Bali where hawkers pounce on cruise ship passengers, trying to extract as much cash from them as they can before the ship sails away, the sales people here on Lifou were dignified and charming, not 'pushy' at all.
   Round thatched huts are set in tiny clearings amongst palm trees in the tropical jungle. Some are decorated with clam shells. Near the largest building is this carved, wooden statue. His sad expression touched my heart.
   The long white sand beach beside the jetty was soon thronged with ship's passengers playing beach volleyball and cricket, and swimming or snorkelling in the clear water. Others walked up to the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes on the headland - the view from the top is stunning.
  Next port of call is Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu.

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