Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A day with Chief Jimmy and family.

Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island, Vanuatu.
13°49.6381 S 167°22.9558 E (Anchorage)

A day with Chief Jimmy and family.

Recently, we spent a day hanging out with Chief Jimmy and family. The day included a bush walk to the top of the waterfall to swim in the river and the chance to spear freshwater prawns. Swimming in a river directly above a waterfall seemed a little risky, but I was certainly up for the adventure. Once we'd made our way to the top of the fall I walked out on some rocks in the river to lean over the falls and get some interesting pictures. Chief Jimmy went a little ballistic and was screaming over the din of the falls that the area was "taboo", "taboo come here". I backed away from the edge of the fall obeying the Chief and forgoing my unique photography opportunity. Once close to Jimmy he grasped my wrist holding tightly and said that bad spirits like to push "new" visitors over the falls and that what I was doing was very dangerous. He said I'd have to visit the falls a few more times and let the spirits get used to me before I could get so close to the edge again. "Ok I'm very sorry Jimmy" I said. Next we donned masks and swam in the swift current just feet from the perilous edge of the falls looking for fresh water prawns. I guess the bad spirits don't like to get wet as they had a great opportunity to push me over the falls while I was in the water!

Slipping and sliding down the very steep trail back to Jimmy's we were covered in mud, bitten by mosquitoes and very painful black ants and sweating profusely in the tropical heat. We headed for the base of the falls to clean off the newly acquired mud and sweat. Jimmy's many daughters now joined us at the pool to teach us some water music. Punching and slapping the water to create these wonderful "booms" and thumps was not so easy and after half an hour without producing one desired sound I was satisfied to swim and enjoy the cool water and incredible scenery. The many children led us swimming across the pool to the base of the falls where you could climb out and then carefully make your way behind the falls or sit strategically to get a pounding massage from the cascading waters. Later we photographed the family around the waterfall.

Jimmy invited Kathy and I back as well as our friends David and Thimai from s/v Jipcho for some Kava later that evening. We obliged our guest and enjoyed a few cups to finish off the day.

The next day we again were invited to Jimmy's for Kava and took along the laptop computer for a digital slide show of the previous days pictures. The slide show was quite a hit especially the videos we'd taken from the Gaua Arts Festival in the previous weeks.

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