Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday 05/01/2010 - Lelepa Island

Today we went on a tour of Lelepa Island, the last of our booked tours in Vanuatu.
The Lelepa tour was just perfect. We were picked up from the front of the resort by the tour bus, which took us to the ferry jetty for Lelepa island, an island which houses a cave that used to be the home of local lepers whom (with very scant western medical treatments and supplies) used to live up until the age of 110 years. We walked from one side of the island to the other. The guide told us about the native plants on the island and their uses.

This palm is pseudo-sacred to the peoples of Lelepa and Vanuatu as a whole, the frond motifs are often found decorating the bodies of the warriors in the form of tattoos.

This shrub is used for toothache as the chewing of it's leaves makes the mouth numb.

This is a white wood tree (not the type used for the fire making of the people of Malekula).

We were then left to our own devices to swim and snorkel the day away.

The swimming was gorgeous, the island so welcoming and the staff so relaxed and friendly. It made for a great relaxing holiday whilst on holidays. The conch shell signaling that lunch was served...
After lunch we took a stroll along the beach where hubby found the largest hermit crab we'd ever seen along with what looked like cone shells (the locals informed that they were harmless and that they ate them cooked over the fire. We still proceeded with caution, just in case.

The below shell was so pretty I just couldn't resist a photo.

There were also plenty of these little lizards clambering over the rocks, they moved so fast it was nigh on impossible to catch one in focus.

We also discovered a mass of crabs making their way along the rocks. I'll be sure to upload some footage of their scurryings as soon as time permits.

The tour then lead us to the cave as mentioned earlier, there were strange marionettes strung up in the cave, (perhaps in an attempt to ward off evil spirits and the former inhabitants had left memories of their stay in the form of hand paintings on the walls.) The cave was now inhabited by tiny bats that on first inspection appeared to be either small birds or butterflies or moths, but were in fact cute little bats.

It was surreal to see these voodoo-looking dolls hanging in the darkness of the cave.

After exploring the cave we were guided back to the beach where we again boarded the boat. The boat took us around the island to a beautiful bay, with amazing visibility. We were given some bread and told to dip our hands into the water. The fish were obviously not afraid as they nibbled the bread from between our fingers occasionally pecking at our skin. After this 'fish feeding' we entered the water to swim with the fish, it would have been an awesome place to dive around all the bommies in that crystal clear water.

This rock formation looked suspiciously like the profile of a warrior to my mind.

We were then ferried to the other side of Lelepa island and Lelepa island village. Here we took a quick walking tour which ended in the middle of the village where the locals had set up some stalls and were selling handicrafts. It was here that I found my chiefs tusk, it was the most spectacular thing for sale that day and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it for hubby. I also found a turtle carved from a root of some description and a cowrie shell with a mirror finish.

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