Espiritu Santo – Part 7

Espiritu Santo – Part 7

The Santo Story

Our love for Vanuatu is incredible, the people and culture and the pure essence of happiness. This is our raw honest  and humble experience of over 3 years of owning land in the tropical Pacific Island of Espiritu Santo

Prologue– 123456789 – 101112 –13Epilogue

Heading to town and civilisation 

Although it’s currently the dry season for the last few mornings we’re getting a shower of rain in the early dawn hours. Our bodies are tired and still getting used to the tropical and humid climate in the morning after the rain. Everything seems to be an effort and we will argue over the smallest things. Even after 12 hours of broken sleep (as not one night have we slept soundly) I still feel totally exhausted.

Breakfast this morning is the leftover pasta and eggplant dish from the night before washed down with a premixed coffee and with powder that’s supposed to represent milk.

For the first time I decided to have a shave as growing a beard is one thing by whiskers on the neck, bugger that, it’s way to itchy. With no shaving lotion I’m stuck with coconut oil, which makes one greasy mess, but at least it does the trick.

It’s overcast this morning and as the sunlight struggles through the clouds to dance on the water the wind level has dropped giving way to a glassy sea. I can feel today the pace slowing, no more are we rushed and now ready to take each day as it comes. It’s us who decide what to do, we are finally the masters of our so called holiday.

One could be forgiven for saying “oh your on a tropical island, you get to drink cocktails, swim in the ocean and lie on a sun lounger all day”. Yup ain’t that the furthest from the truth at our place for now. That’s the goal, that’s the dream at the end of all this. It seems so far into the future this morning.

By morning tea time I’d been back down to the beach and started to make more of my coral pathway that I started 10 months ago on a previous trip. The coolness of the morning aided the task but when you have only a shovel and no way of moving rocks except with your bare hands it proves to be back breaking work. First to took to using the shovel to spread the the coral, then when that became too hard I took to lining the path edges with larger rocks. Slowly the path takes form. If I manage to complete it as far as The Rock Garden that will be a mammoth effort.

The coral path to the beach, all build by hand. One Bucket, one shovel and two exhausted people

Elena writes a list for supplies in town, gloves for Moses, a file for my bush knife etc it’s funny, when you’re out here your shopping priorities change.

Walking to the road we find Moses working hard and he explains another couple of trees that are “em fella no good” and are part of the nettle family of plants. These plants have microscopic hooks on the underside of their leaves and when touched can be extremely itchy. So he advises me to “cut em down boss”. With on swift stroke

Moses cut completely through the 10cm thick branch with is bush knife, I wish mine was that sharp.

It’s 1130 am Moses walks with us down the main road leading town, it’s his lunch time and as we walk past Romans place to the South of us he explains some of the work he’s done on the five star resort that’s currently under construction.

Moses supplies all the little Hibiscus plants that line the front fence. He grows them at home and sells them, there are many different coloured flowers and Moses is very proud of his handwork. When we are ready we know where to go for hibiscus.

Just around the bend from our place is one of the biggest banyan trees I’ve seen. It dominates the coconut plantation it sits in. I wonder how many years it’s been there and the stories it could tell.

Elena in front of a massive Banyan Tree

From the Banyan it’s a 4km strait road to Lope lope Lodge, the local watering hole, but with little shade from the midday heat we hope that a bus, taxi or truck will pass soon. Pulling out of Nananara rd is Browning in is taxi. He explains that he’s dropping some children to is wife’s daycare and will return in about 15 minutes to pick us up and take is to town. I mentioned to Elena that the reason there are not many vehicles on the road is that everyone’s stopped for lunch for the next 1 1/2 hours.

Santo Hardware Luganvile

Brownie drops us at Santo Hardware and we notice the orange cones blocking the entrance signalling that they are closed for lunch, however there are some places that are still open. We wand across the road to the bank to see how the progress is going on our account application. Unfortunately the lady handling our application is of sick today so we are still in limbo not knowing if our account had been opened.

LCM supermarket is open and we make for the fresh bread and geauteaux ( a French doughnut) that are still wam from baking. Tinned food and ok but when you have no fridge buying meat becomes an issue. We were fortunate enough to have chicken and steak a couple of days back (loosing track of days now) with Bruno and Jocelyn and now we have an opportunity to eat meat again tonight. Initially we thought of sausages but the beef ones were in a huge pack, then was saw chicken frankfurters, but in the next freezer was steak. There really is no comparison, steak it is.

Elena fills out the paperwork for our Bank application

Hibiscus Attraction Centre is our media lifeline and we are so grateful of the help of our dear fringes Marie and Lois. Without the information and compassion of these two we would be lost. We’re given the keys to unit 1 and we set about rehanging all our devices and uploading our stories. I’m still looking for a way to reduce the size of our images so I can upload them faster so I’m putting this out there.

Meanwhile I work on relieving my thirst for local beer called Tusker
Meanwhile I work on relieving my thirst for local beer called Tusker

” Anyone who has a mac notebook, what program or app do you use to reduce the size of your pictures?”  – please comment below.

Elena’s tired of waiting for me so she heads off to the local market for fruits and vegetables while I frantically load about 5 episodes of our adventures. She returns all hot and bothered that we’re taking up too much time and feels embarrassed that we are here so long. Marie’s organised a bus for our return back to camp for 315pm. As we still have to grab a couple of items from Santo Hardware we are now racing off as we only have 25 minutes before the bus arrives. We leave the devices charging and walk at an Olympic pace to the store.

Gathering up gloves for Moses, loping sheers and a couple of other and ends we’re lucky that we’re getting to know where things are around the shop. We manage a quick pace back and arrive with minutes to spare.

Finding unit 1 locked and no one in the office I open the little gate to the private residence of our friends to be greeted by Buba their dog who is so happy to see me and jumps up almost knocking me to the ground. Lois notices the commotion and come out to unlock the room at the same time the bus pulls up. It’s Marie’s uncle who lives at Hog Harbour and runs  Buses to town Monday to Friday. He leaves hog Harbour at 645am and returns leaving Luganville at 315pm. It’s good to know if we’re heading to town. Once again Lois and Marie shine through for us.

Moses is happy with is new gloves and he sets about working as he still has 10 minutes before 4pm, I’m so tempted to tell him to knock off early but once bad habit’s start they may continue when we’re not here.

Returning to our camp we hear someone on a little motorbike on our Northern neighbours property. I watch through the trees. It’s some European guy checking things out.

I call out to him, it’s our new neighbour!  With a quick introduction I invite Yenis back to our cam to meet Elena.

On our last visit to Santo we came with Elena’s mother and while the girls swam in the ocean I started a little path made of old coral rocks that had washed up on the beach. I didn’t manage to get to far and never knew if it would last or weather is would succumb to nature and be reclaimed. To our surprise it was still here when we returned, so today’s plan is to continue with the building of the path toward the Rock Garden.

Simian breezes through camp on his way to work. This morning he delivers two fresh coconuts and opens them for us. There is nothing sweeter first thing in the morning to drink. Simian also shows us the parts of the coconut that I never knew you could eat.

When a coconut starts to seed and take root, if you cut it open the center where you would normally find coconut flesh clinging to the inner side of the coconut. this area is full of a white soft fluffy texture that if you closed you’re eyes while  eating it you would swear you’d been eating shaved coconut that Aussies put in their Lamington cakes.

Simian says he finishes work at 4pm and will come by to help me take out a few of the stinging nettle plants down by the Rock Garden that are now metres into the air, we bid him a great days work and start on Breakfast.

Mission accomplished, I managed to place all the edging rock for the path, now all I have to do is fill the center with crushed coral and the path is done. Its back breaking work placing every rock by hand. The best time to do anything that is excessive manual labour around the property is before lunch. The sea breeze by the beach and wafting into the Rock Garden makes it a little more pleasurable, but its still hard going.


Looking toward the beach
Looking toward the rock pool

I meet Simion on the path as I head back down to the beach, he’s seen the fire on the beach and left Elena guarding it. We get stuck into the nettles, I’m sure Simion is trying to impress me with his cutting skills. His bush knife is razor sharp and smaller that mine. I joke that it’s not the size of you knife its the way you use it. He laughs and sees the meaning behind the joke. We make a pile of nettles ready for burning, and Simion says he’s call by tomorrow to help me trim the overgrowth off an orange tree and Lemon tree that are only 20 metres from our camp.

As the darkness closes in I find Elena smelling fresh, she’s found a bucket and been collecting fresh water. We both have a wash down with fresh water and soap. It’s the frost time I’ve had something the represents a shower since leaving Hibiscus.

Feeling clean its a quick dinner in the now darkness of eggs bread and fish, washed down with a shared beer before turning in for the night.