Friday, April 17, 2015


April 18

We have neglected the blog because after the excitement of Pam and the initial push to do as much as we could to help, our normal routine doesn't seem all that interesting.  We have still been involved in hauling fresh water to the island of Emao which is off the North coast.  Every other day, we take all the canisters we can carry to Takara, load them in a small boat, and send them to the island.  We then bring the empty the empty ones, re-fill them and take them back.  With all that travel, we have noticed and been amazed at how quickly the vegetation is coming back.  Everywhere we go, we see people working to plant their gardens, build their houses, and put their lives back in order.

We thought some more then and now pictures might be interesting

This is the Chapel at Paonangisu a few days after the storm

Getting ready to start work

Still more to do, but much better

This is Takara.  A lot of clean up has been done and most houses have a cooking area and at least a bedroom to sleep out of the rain

This was the community center in Takara

Even amid all the destruction, life goes on and school is in session

Takara has kind of a beach.  It is some sand and mostly coral, so it isn't the kind of beach you walk around barefoot.

But it's good enough for VaLynne

This is the crew that's taking the water across to Emao Island

We had some extra help one day. They are President Eric's kids.  Her name is Mabelina.  His name I couldn't pronounce so naturally I call him George.  They call me grandpa.

These three houses are in Etas.  They look a lot better than they did a few weeks ago.  Notice the leaves are already coming back on the trees.

no matter what, we always seem to have a beautiful view out our back door

Before the storm, I took a couple of pictures of some items to give an idea of the cost of things here.  The currency is called Vatu and the exchange rate is almost equal, so 450 vatu is just about $4.20, 1500 vatu is about $14.00 etc.  We were in the drug store one day and I took these pictures

about $4.60

About $14.90

Part of the reason for the high prices is of course that we are so far away from everywhere and shipping costs a lot.  The other reason is that Vanuatu has no income or sales taxes, so the only source  of revenue is a value added tax which is added on to everything we buy.  Someone told me it's around 27%.  I haven't decided yet, but I may like this system better.  I'll let you know when I'm trying to figure my taxes next year.  It is nice when you see a price on something you don't have to try to figure how much more it will be when you get to the checkout and add the sales tax.  What you see is what you get.  That said, I still can't bring myself to pay $9.00 for a pound of grapes.  One thing we have noticed is that meat prices are in line with what we would expect to pay at home, and we can get good quality meat.  It will also be good to see the produce back in the outdoor markets.  Not only for the prices, but also to see the people being able to start having an income again.

Nothing like it used to be, but it's a start

On our first trip to Paonangisu, we got lost while looking for the Chapel and ended up right on the beach in this ladies' yard (almost in her garden).  There were about a dozen people just sitting in the shade enjoying each other's company and the view.  We became friends.  After the storm, we were concerned about her and her family because of where they live, so they were some of the first people we checked on when we were finally able to travel to the North.  They lost almost all of their garden and have been struggling for water and food, but their house wasn't damaged as much as we thought it would have been.  This is their canoe and the view from their front yard.

Her kids call me grandpa

We stopped to look at the beach and these kids came right up to us.  The girls are intrigued with VaLynne's hair.  It's not like theirs and they like to touch it.  They all spoke very good English and we visited for a while.  Then they sang a song for us.  Usually, the children are quite shy when they first meet us so this was quite a nice surprise.  (They didn't call me grandpa) One thing we found out and enjoyed is that, "Granny" which is usually reserved for Grandma, is interchangeable here. Grandpa and grandmas are both called granny's for short. 

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