Day 129, Year 2: We Love Nana
Date: Friday, August 31, 2007
Weather: Light Showers, Clouds, and Wind . . . With Just a Bit of Sunshine
Location: Banam Bay, Malekula, Vanuatu

Today was a fantastic day here in Banam Bay, but the most exciting part of the day for us was an email from our daughter telling us that our grand baby Sam had a good first week with Nana. She is his primary care giver in the day care home Heather and Jed chose for him. Heather has to return to work next week, so this was the “trial” week. Evidently Sam is bonding nicely with Nana and that is fantastic news. We haven’t met Nana, but we definitely appreciate her.

The weather here continues to be challenging, but despite the clouds and periodic light showers, we had a great morning ashore. We went in at 10 AM. Chief Saitol met us this morning and we were then given time to again peruse the collection of shells for sale. We are learning about all of the different types of shells from Ross and Laura on New Dawn. They are a young couple from Anchorage, Alaska, and they have been studying the various shells that are common out here. They have definitely pricked
our interest, so when we returned to Windbird today, we got the only shell identification books we have aboard and started trying to name the shells we have. Yet another new thing we need to learn!

We had ordered bread yesterday and two very warm loaves were given to us when we arrived on shore this morning. We ate fresh bread and bought shells, and then got ready for the dance performances. We were led to the nasara by a young man who served as our guide. As we had read in the Lonely Planet, the men here have a culture club and present kastom (custom) dances for visitors. When we first arrived, all of the men lined up to shake our hands just as in a wedding reception line. The chief gave
a welcoming speech and then we got to see the welcome dance, a grade-taking dance where a chief rises from one rank to another, the dance celebrating the birth of a son, and a circumcision ceremonial dance. The men wear a leaf wrapped around the penis that is attached to a bark belt. That is the kastom dress for the Little Nambas. After the four dances, we were led out of the nasara to see the women and children dance. The kastom dress for women here is a skirt of thin strips of Pandanus leaves.
Little girls wore the same, but the little boys wore nothing. We saw the dance welcoming a new girl child and then the women attending were invited to dance. At the end of the women’s dance performances, we lined up to shake their hands and were then led back into the nasara to hear the chief’s parting remarks. Those of us attending were then asked to each introduce ourselves and say something about where we are from and our impressions of the performances. The men then lined up to shake our
hands. When the man who had been lead drummer for the day came to shake my hand, I asked him about his small bamboo slit drum. I wanted to know if it was called a tamtam like the big slit drums. He then insisted that I take his drum to keep. There are all sorts of requirements for gift giving here, but I was assured that it was okay to take the drum. I was delighted, but I hope to be able to give the man something in return tomorrow.

We returned to Windbird and had lunch and then went out to explore the snorkeling possibilities. The area close to the outer reef was not good as the water was just too cloudy, so we came back into the inner bay and snorkeled over some very nice bommies. I once again saw a few fish I had never seen before and look forward to going back tomorrow and seeing these “newbies” one more time. If the weather information we are receiving is correct, I might have four more days here to check out the new
fish. It looks like high winds and seas until Tuesday, so we will just have to kick back and relax and continue to enjoy this lovely bay and its gracious people.

070831 Day 129 Malekula, Vanuatu–Banam Bay Underwater, Day 1
070831 Day 129 Malekula, Vanuatu–Cultural Presentation in Banam Bay