White sand, blue water and coconuts...
23.04.2012 33 °C
Today we hooked up with Alfred, one of the guys from Alan Power Diving, for a tour of the east side of the island. In a bit of dive humor, Alfred calls his company Residual Nitrogen Touring. Residual nitrogen in your body is what causes the bends. So divers shouldn't dive within 24 hours of flying. Did I mention that diving was the main reason people come out here?
The first thing Alfred wanted to show us is how most of the people in Vanuatu make a living. 75% percent of the population still lives in rural villages and many of them survive by farming copra (coconut) for export. The people start by clearing land and planting the coconut palm. These trees will grow to over 30 meters and can be productive for up to 70 years.
About 4 times a year a copra farmer will gather up his friends and neighbors to go and pick up all of the coconuts that have fallen on the ground. Once the coconuts are harvested, the coconut meat has to be dried. There are wood fired dryers like this one all over the country side.
The coconut meat will stay in the dryers for a couple of days and then is ready for shipment.
This guys job is to keep the fires going during the drying process.
After drying the copra is bagged up and taken either to the port for overseas shipment or to the coconut oil press in Luganville. Most of the coconut oil is shipped overseas, but some stays here in Santo and is used in a diesel generator used to power the island. No more diesel imports for Santo!
After a bit more driving, we pulled into little place called Champagne Beach. We had to make a payment to the kustom owner of the land and then went out to the beach.
Champagne Beach is one of the most perfect white sand beaches I have ever seen...
...and we had it almost completely to ourselves.
I guess one a month a cruise ship pulls in here and the place is a zoo with locals coming from miles around to sell things and do kustom dances, but not today. Nothing but waves crashing on the deserted beach...
It put smiles on our faces for sure!
After the beach we headed down the road to the Lonnoc Beach Bungalows for a wonderful lunch.
Paw paw (a fruit) curry and the ubiquitous Tusker beer alfresco with an amazing view!
On the way back to town, we stopped in at one of the many "blue hole" swimming spots. These are deep freshwater pools in the limestone that have amazing (but cold!) blue water.
It was a great way to end the day.