The next morning we did a custom tour to Yakel Village with Happy our driver and tour guide, until we got to the village. Thank goodness both Happy and Lulu from last night were fabulous drivers because the roads, of course, were equally as bad. We took some ibuprofen just from sore muscles from being jostled around and set off on our journey. We were flying out later that day, so our tour was from 8:30 am until about 1 pm.
Our first stop - the main shopping on the whole island. These are the only Western style stores, a post office, bank, couple of other things. And, again, nothing is paved.
Here is the larger market with fruit, vege, etc.
Look at how the potatoes are bagged in banana leaf bags. Very clever!
This is kava root that they use to make kava, a liquid hallucinogenic that is considered crucial to their custom life. No, we didn't ever try it. Looks like dirt, makes you feel really drunk or high. We took a pass. We were told by Happy and by JJ (our guide later) that kava and pigs are the Tanna currency!
Just some more aisles at the market.
This is our purchase, some Mandarin oranges still on the vine. We ate a few and then gave the rest to Happy for his family.
After a really rough drive, we entered the village. As I said earlier, the reason we wanted this particular village was because they are one of a few that still are custom and actually still live the custom life and clothes all the time - not just for tourists. Additionally, they are one of the two tribes that were part of Meet the Natives and are still a cargo cult.
This is the clearing and a significant tree to Yakel. This is their meeting and gathering place. We followed JJ and got to walk through the village, meet people there, learn about how they live, and even see a custom dance.
This is what their houses look like, and not just in this village. We'd see them on the side of the road and they all looked just like this.
There are pigs and chickens everywhere. They do have some clever "fences" they build in the jungle to keep them in the village. They just look like mounds of mud. Additionally, we did see 2 pigs in a cage - they were ones who had gotten into a lot of trouble!
Here is a little boy who just followed us around from the beginning. It was just Dan and I on the tour. I don't know his name. He always just lurked in the background watching us. So cute!
Here is the current chief and one of his grandchildren. He is 76 years old, I think.
Look at the two grandchildren playing on the swings. So adorable. Boys will be naked until they have a circumcision at 4 - 6, girls wear the grass skirts.
Here is Dan with the chief! He asked where we were from, through a translator. When we said Australia, he said, "You are from a clean place and used to clean things, not like here." He was smiling and seemed very nice.
As we exited, the village children and people were there selling a few handicrafts. Each of them cost from a dollar to a few dollars. We have a lot of quarantine laws in AU, so didn't buy much since most of it was wood and seeds which are hard to get in. We did buy a few things because who can resist given the sales people : )
I thought these two girls were so cute. After I took the picture, I showed it to them. If you could have seen that smile, that would have been the best picture!
At the end of the tour, they performed a dance for us. I am having some difficulties with video on this blog, so I will post to facebook. This was such a special trip and I keep saying that the people were so amazing, friendly, and happy, but they truly have very little. We are going to be putting some things together to send them for school, and will soon be working to get some money together to sponsor a few of them to go off the island for school. We left feeling very touched by these people. We asked JJ if tourism was helpful or hurtful and he said that they people of Tanna see it as a cultural exchange. He said that they believe they have a peaceful, positive way of life and want the world to see it because in their views, we all come from Tanna. Many of the villages have converted to Christianity through missionaries, although they still live in some of the custom ways, including the ceremonial dances and things.