Archive for December, 2008
December 7th, 2008
What was different about this trip is that we had been specially invited [by Hon MP and Cabinet Minister Sela Molisa] to see if the lands of his community in the far NW would suit the Project. I had had a delightful occasion to meet with him on my recent rip to Port Vila, after which he volunteered how taken he was with the Project. Moreover he felt that
It was the easiest trip we’ve taken yet, starting with an Islander flight from Luganville to Lajmoli on the NW coast of this wondrous island. It’s only a half hour or so to that small grass strip of level land just behind the wide
The path from the airport to the beach parallels the runway almost its entire length and then veers towards the sea. The boat from Wunpuko had not yet arrived so we parked on a log at the verge where the sand of the beach meets brush, just inside the cool shade it protects from the mid-day sun
When the boat first appeared off the distant point, the first sign was the spray kicked up by its 125hp outboard-powered hull. In very short order it was in front of us, looking for a spot to onload us. The old man [like me] who was surplus to the crew, Chief Willy, had come to meet and welcome us. He’s tall and thin, quite an elegant and efficient man. We had come with obvious credentials this time.
Were it not for stopping to recover some fishing nets floating in one of the bays on the way to the village, the whole boat trip would only have taken twenty or twenty-five minutes. But now it was near twice that when we landed on the beach at Wunpuko.
The community has a guest house, and we were led to it. Once on top of the slightly elevated plateau on which level one of the village sits, grass cover is nearly wall-to-wall, broken up occasionally by pink hibiscus or shaded in various places by fruit-laden mango trees.
Supper, we were told, was going to be a community affair, in the Nakamal where we would be formally introduced to the community, share supper with them [by hurricane lamp light] and then speak to the purpose for which we had come – to find a home for the Edenhope Project. They were eager to understand the Project.
The meeting went on for a good couple of hours and follow-on discussions also took place next day [Friday]. By mid morning, Ben Daniel came to us with the news that the community had decided to offer us their communal land [way up in the mountains above the coast] to us for the Project. We could go up to see it.
So we made plans to trek [on Saturday] to the old volcano from where we could see the lands they were talking about. At seven o’clock, as planned, we set off with Ben Daniel, Freeman and Jennie as guides and companions. The first plateau, a grassy area, was about 350m high and gave a stunning view of the village and beach below and the panorama of the
The second plateau was some 530m high; the large basin of a long-extinct volcano, now covered as it is a grassy meadow. We had walked some four or five kms inland to reach this extraordinary lake bed. But, from there, one could see the lands they wanted us to have: a whole valley and surrounding mountains reaching up to seven hundred meters or so. The haunting syllables of Shangri’ La resonated softly, reassuringly.
The descent was of course much easier. It was early afternoon; and we were back in the village by mid-afternoon, ready for a refreshing swim in the cool river. Really it was our excitement that needed to be stilled ….and the waters did that just so.
On Monday morning the same speedboat, in a four hour and fifteen trip, took us back to Luganville. We left before the sun rose and were already skimming across the mostly calm seas just east of the NW fork of Santo by the time it broke in the morning sky.
During the following days it appeared that the community wanted to deal seriously with us and requested we return as soon as practical. So we immediately made plans to return Thursday.week in the company of the Minister’s private secretary, Honore.
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