Saturday, September 29, 2007

port vila.

i arrived back in port vila after sundown on erev yom kippur. while i was very glad to be back in the land of the internet and a wide variety of food and entertainments, i chose to avoid these things for my first 24 hours for a yom kippur fast. okay, i did email a few people to let them know i was back safe. but i tried to limit myself to that!

yom kippur was a very good day of reflection and prayer. it also gave me time to process some of the things that God has been teaching me and correcting me on, even just since i've been here... along with the oodles of work He's been doing on me since last yom kippur.

after watching a beautiful sunset on the hotel deck and bidding farewell to the holy day, i went first to the internet cafe to check a few things and send a few emails. only after that was taken care of did i break my food-fast... with a hamburger that must have had a dozen luscious things on it.

efate, the island on which port vila is located, actually supports some of the best beef cattle in the world. good steak is relatively cheap and easy to find; my brother would love it. port vila generally has some of the best eating in the south pacific, thanks largely to the french colonial influence combined with good south pacific traditional eats. it's definitely a change from eating mostly fish... but i have kept my diet balanced and am still eating loads of fresh fruit.

on sundays most of port vila shuts down, since most people in vanuatu are devout christians. so i spent sunday afternoon walking up and down steep hills to eriakor lagoon, behind port vila. the beautiful crystal-clear lagoon is lined with a few resorts and then some extremely swank private villas, with very high walls, populated by wealthy expats. a few steps away live ni-vans, living basically in shacks... but they were having a fun sunday afternoon from what i could see.

i'm glad i took a nice long walk when i did, because the next several days were rain, rain, rain. it seemed like monsoon had come. vanuatu does have "wet" and "dry" seasons, but there might still be a month of sun in the midst of the wet season. or a days-long deluge right in the middle of the dry season, like we had last week. i did go out in the soup now and then, but mostly i stayed in and wrote.

when the Weather cleared i trekked to the national museum, which was fascinating, and i took lots of notes. eddie, our tour guide, started with a sand drawing demonstration, which is honestly the most soothing and mesmerising thing i can remember ever seeing. the drawings are used to send messages. first the artist draws a sort of grid. then he begins on the design proper, and can't lift his finger from the sand until he finishes; if he makes a mistake he has to rub it out and start over. i plan to post a video of one of eddie's drawings on youtube when i get home.

next to the museum is the national library, which has also proven a valuable resource for book research. they have many books and theses written about vanuatu that one simply can't get anywhere else. my own novel's backstories and details continue to reveal themselves through all of this.

more about the rest of the island outside of port vila, and some other things, tomorrow.

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