AUSTRAL, February 27th, 2017, Ureparapara & Sana Island, VanuatuPosted on Tuesday 7 March 2017
By Sandrine ERWIN-ROSE
We woke to the delight of being anchored in the heart of an ancient volcano caldera, surrounded by mist-covered mountains, black sand and lush forest. We were greeted by the island’s inhabitants in typical warm, welcoming Melanesia style which one can never tire of. As the musicians played some lively music and floral garlands placed over our heads we felt their genuine welcome into their village, their island and their lives. Meandering through the delightful village of traditional thatched huts, the smell of food cooking and washing drying it was clear this was genuine island life. In a clearing behind the village (which doubles as a soccer field) we were treated to several dances, each reflecting the daily life or history of these people. Firstly the Dance of the Wind which represented the way that wind can change and evolve, from a gentle breeze to the wild roaring storms. This was followed by a dance depicting a chicken looking for food and last of all a dance which showed the connection between these people and the ocean. Wearing carved wooden masks depicting a lionfish, a turtle, a shark, a tuna, a Morish Idol and a mermaid, the dancers came out of the forest followed by a large carving of a Banded Sea Krait, the species of sea snake found in these waters, along with dancers painted in matching black and white stripes. Following the dances we were invited to visit their village as well as their local primary school. The warmth and genuine welcome by this village will stay with us for always.
Following a sumptuous lunch the ship repositioned to the nearby Sana Island, a small coral atoll surrounded by extensive coral reef. We had the opportunity to go snorkelling from the Zodiacs® and explore the magical underwater world.
Our day ended with the Captain’s farewell cocktail and a Gala Dinner followed by the ‘Paris Express’ show with the Paris C’Show dancers and Oksana our singer performing.