How to approach these places : each island
is a closed world that wants to keep its unique originality, with its own language
and customs. Some of them lie far away in the past, like Ambrym, Gaua or Ambae ;
others are close to the world of the whites, like Efate, Espiritu Santo or Tanna.
They were the realm of missionaries, whale hunters, people looking for sandalwood,
and labour trafickers. Their difficult approach, the one-time dangerous reputation
of their inhabitants, the isolation of their invisible villages hidden in the
bush, have allowed these populations to keep their ancestral customs where sorcery
is still present. In the villages, the cabins are low, with their walls made of
bamboo branches or plaited leaves. The tasks of everyday life have not changed
with the time. Pirogues allow to go from one village to another. Men are still
fishing and hunting with assegais, bows or slings ! Inside some islands,
away from the villages, they are still living naked. They are called secret societies.
Very few foreigners dare get into their territories or walk on the footpaths that
lead to them. The country is taboo. Its still at the foot of a banyan tree
that the Head of the village gives or refuses the permission to climb the volcano.
If he agrees, youll have to drink kawa, a sign of allegiance and friendship.
Guy de St Cyr