Amanda Jones

Vanuatu, the beginning

August 6th, 2010

So this is my first go at blogging. I know, I know, I’ve always been slow on the uptake. In fact I am guilty of poo-pooing the very idea, “Like, who has time?” But then too many people starting asking me why I don’t have a blog and I had to admit to being too lame and lazy and possibly even too old. However, recently I was in Vanuatu and getting a real kick out of sending a photo of Indigo standing with a bunch of men in grass penis sheaths over and over again via email. Then it hit me that just posting the photo once might be a hell of a lot easier. Hence this blog, which my lovely friend Kristin from 428Designs whipped together in no time and talked me off the ledge when it all got to be too complicated. I imagine this is really just for my own benefit. And possibly that of the girls, who love seeing photos of themselves.

So, here is the photo of Indigo (my eldest daughter age 12.5) and the penis-sheath men on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu (a Melanesian nation in the South Pacific). I was sincerely hoping to find this tribe as some of them were whisked off to America by the Travel Channel to make a documentary called Meet the Natives. These men, who had theretofore lived without electricity, running water or TV and had never experienced cold before, were taken to places like New York and Montana in the middle of winter. A human rights violation, one might ask? I wanted to hear what they thought (even though they spoke no English and the only one who did spoke very poorly). Their impressions were interesting. To paraphrase, “In America you live like Gods, but there is not enough sun between your tall buildings and you are too running around mad.”

I love this photo as it is sort of like a mini-me moment. Indigo actually enjoys the long, uncomfortable drives out to find these people. (Or maybe find them, you never know.) She actually likes to take photos of semi-naked people who live in incredibly uncomfortable surroundings. She doesn’t mind the heat, the dust and the long moments of waiting. And she is a really good photographer. Might even be better than I am. See these photos she took.

Here’s a penis sheath close up. Indigo hoped no one had any skin allergies.

In addition, Indi is also really brave, which means when I took her to the Yasur Volcano, which is the world’s most accessible (because they have no rules in Vanuatu) and constantly active volcano, she didn’t flinch as lava rocks rocketed towards us. I thought nothing of it at the time, but later learned the four people have been killed up there.

It was incredible. Mind-blowing and we sat on the rim for four hours, taking photos long after they were still in focus.

Yasur from a distance

We took this one just to freak out my mother

And now (below) we are about 20 feet from the rim of the crater (on the leeward side). These are the ash plumes from the constant eruptions, which contained burning rocks that you were not able to see until night fell.

And as the sun was setting

And at dark

Here’s one more shot, just because she’s really cool looking and we bought her hand carved walking sticks.

Where, you might ask, were Greg (the husband) and Fia (other daughter, age 10) during all this? Well, they were back at the funky little hotel we stayed in (the best on Tanna), Whitegrass Resort playing golf barefooted. They missed an awesome day.

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2 Responses to “Vanuatu, the beginning”

  1. Catherine says:

    Hi,I enjoyed this very much. Thanks for posting. Love the line about sun/tall buildings and running around mad. Too true!

    Will keep watching. Cheers!

  2. julia lockwood says:

    Hi Amanda: This is my first time to ever blog and I am so blown away at yours and Indigos’ photos! I love the natives expression about America – we are running around like mad! Amanda, it was a pleasure to meet you at the Bookpasages conference and I am so inspired to write after being with such incredible writers like yourself. I was also impressed with the writing and photography of the conference participants. Thanks for traveling to Vanuatu and sharing with all of us not so brave travelers!

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