Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lelepa Island

On Monday we took a day tour to Lelepa Island, a little island just off Efate (the main island of Vanuatu, where the capital is). Lelepa Island is where a lot of the filming for Suvivor: Vanuatu took place. I know, cheesy, but still interesting. Here's where they held tribal council. Obviously some stuff has been torn down, but seeing it in person still takes a little bit of the glamour out of it, eh?
First, we spent the morning on the beach, with some awesome snorkeling. All that dark stuff in the water is coral:
Then we went hiking around some caves, and I saw a fruit bat that reminded me of dinner (more on that later):

Next was more snorkeling, this time with bigger fish. We fed them with leftover bread and chicken bones from lunch. Unfortunately I did not bring an unerwater camera, so I've just got some shots from over the side of the boat:

And we ended the day with a stop in one of the villages on the island. There was definitely a lot of wierdness/awkwardness with being tourists in a village. Again this goes back to the whole question of what is appropriate cultural tourism. At least the Lelepa Island tour was fully owned and operated by Lelepa Islanders, but I still felt disrespectful. It reminded me that I know how I like to travel: by actually getting to be a part of the culture and the country rather than just seeing it as a tourist. I would love to go back to Vanuatu (or any of the other Pacific Islands), but it's just difficult for me to go and stay in a fancy resort and only view the people through proverbial glass.

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