We're making final preparations to depart Fiji in the next few days (we hope) and make the three and half day passage to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu promises a great adventure and our first stop should be at the island of Tanna which boasts an active volcano to which you can hike to the erupting crater. The other major attractions are the annual Toka Festival every August and witnessing first hand the John Frum cargo cult.
"The three day Toka Festival on Vanuatu’s Tanna Island is one of Vanuatu’s major cultural events. This gift-exchanging ceremony makes a magnificent sight, as up to 2000 participants attempt to out-do each other with their lavish gifts, dancing skills and ornate makeup. This festival is a symbol of alliance between different tribal groups and the more one gives, the larger status they acquire.
The ceremony begins with women dancing all night, surrounded by men who are waiting for dawn to come so they can take their place. At sunrise, the Toka dance begins and the men mime scenes of daily life. A group of the host village then carries out a dance in reply to the Toka, stamping the ground rhythmically. There is also a pig killing ceremony, food exchange and visits to various Nakamals."
After Tanna island we'll make our way north through the Vanuatu island chain and at the end of September it will be off to the Solomon Islands where we plan to spend the cyclone season and leave the boat near Gizo Island in the northern part of the country while we return stateside for the holidays. By staying in the tropics as opposed to heading to NZ or AU we'll extend our cruising season and be well positioned to head to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in 2008. The only downside will be hot weather with high humidity and the upside amazing cultural experiences in the wilds of the Solomon’s.