First Impressions

Author: Mark
Date: June 20, 9am NZT
Location: 20 14.28 S - 169 46.68 E -- Aneityum, Vanuatu
Conditions: 10-20kts from the west, mostly cloudy skies with squalls

We arrived to Vanuatu Friday around noon. Needless to say we were happy to be out of the squashy seas and in a calm anchorage. The first impression of Vanuatu could only be good given the contrast of sloppy seas to a calm anchorage. Like most new islands we visit, we are eager to find ways to connect with the locals. We find that our experiences are much richer when we spend time walking the villages, talking to people and making new friends. It takes a lot of energy to put yourself into extrovert mode in foreign cultures, but the rewards can be amazing.

Looking back to our earlier sailing days (Caribbean, Brazil, Columbia), we were much more focused on meeting other like minded sailors than really connecting with the locals. That was a nice comfort zone. Sail in packs to an anchorage, fly your club burgee, get a happy hour on the calendar and discuss boat projects, weather, and fishing. Don't get me wrong, we still enjoy being with fellow sailors, we just find ourselves much more focused on learning and living with local people in villages. Their life if rich in many ways. We are learning more and more that connecting with others in different cultures is challenging and sometimes uncomfortable. Some islands and countries make connecting much easier, and Vanuatu is so far one of the best. Let me explain.

We've been here 48 hours. The first 24 hours we met the local school teacher, the policeman, a couple of the church elders, a local villager came up to us and gave us fresh fruit from their garden while some village kids played with our kids on the beach AND we were invited to attend a special church service for youth in another village about 15km away. Whew! That was a busy day. Little did we know that the next day - Sunday, we were going to be in for a real treat. A day we would not soon forget. From a near capsize of our dinghy with a breaking wave, a bath in a river with villagers before church, and a 3.5 hr hike through the jungle back to the village -- we have memories that have left a lasting impression. Stay tuned when Sarah gives you a look into the amazing day we had with the villagers of Vanuatu!

PS

We only have Sat connection, so we can only share one pic. When we get better connectivity we will upload more!

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