Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 16, 2008, Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu

Our arrival at Port Resolution coincided with the arrival of the ICA rally boats. In return for paying $500, the rally participants enjoy streamlined customs clearance procedures and discounts on cruising fees charged by Vanuatu Customs. The clearance port on Tanna is on the west side of the island, near a harbor that is usually exposed to the tradewinds and swell. Most yachts come into Port Resolution, and pay 2,000 vatu (around $22) per person to go over to the west side to clear in. For the benefit of the rally participants, the ICA arranged for Customs and Immigration to come over to Port Resolution to clear in the rally participants. We, Phoenix, Khulula, and a few boats that had just arrived from Fiji took advantage of the opportunity and cleared in as well. After completing a mountain of paperwork, we were once again legally present in a country - kind of a novel feeling after our extended stay in New Zealand.

One of the standard ways a traveler can gain an appreciation for another culture is to see a traditional dance performance. Travelers admire the locals' costumes and movements, typically while enjoying an overpriced and underwhelming buffet. Tonight at the Port Resolution Yacht Club, the tables were turned and whitey became the evening's entertainment. One of the organized rally activities was Dress Like a Pirate Night. The collection of costumes was quite impressive. Several had clearly been planned out well in advance. One guy was even wearing a hat with a wooden parrot perched on the brim (I totally want that hat). Some of the rally participants have a set of guitars and amplifiers, which they hauled up the bluff to the yacht club. While they played and sang, a few pirates got up to dance. As the pirates swilled rum punch and handed out awards to one another, all around the perimeter of the building, locals stood in the dark watching the proceedings. I would love to know what they thought of it all.

The local string band - check out the bass made from a wooden box

On a more somber note, there was an accident in one of the villages bordering the harbor today. A little boy was shot in the arm with a spear gun. His father, having no immediate means of getting to the hospital on the far side of the island, 2 hours away over rough roads, paddled him out to the yachts anchored in the harbor to ask for help. The first yacht they reached called out to the rest of the anchorage over VHF, inquiring whether there was a doctor or nurse in the fleet. Nobody responded. They tried again to raise some assistance on the radio, this time detailing the injury. While we waited to see if anyone else had more experience to offer than we did, Sten radioed to offer to call his dad, who is a doctor, via our satellite phone. Meanwhile, I grabbed some stuff from our extensive medical kit that I thought might be useful and our medical guide, which actually had a section on treating spear gun wounds. We headed over to the dinghy raft up where two other crews were stabilizing the arm so that the child could be transported to the hospital (pretty much what the medical guide said to do). As we pulled up, one of the guys said "Now what we really need is an arm sling." I reached in my bag of tricks and pulled one out. It's not for nothing that NZ Customs declared that ours was the most extensive medical kit they'd seen that season.

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