Saturday, September 16, 2006

Banam Bay, Malekula

Banam Bay, Malekula (9/15 - 9/16)

Banam bay was an easy motor-sail up the coast from Port Sandwich.  It was again a bit crowded, the most boats we've been at anchor with in a long time (about 15), but it's a big bay and there was plenty of room.  We went in that afternoon with a number of other cruisers to see the dance performance.  At the Nekowiar I thought I had gotten used to the nambas (penis sheaths), but as we entered the dancing area for the men, I found myself trying hard to not stare!  Apparently there are different types of nambas, and some cover quite a bit more (or less) than others.  Here, they wore minimal coverage, with, as we call them, "the boys" hanging right out there!  I had seen pictures, and some men at the Nekowiar had these type nambas as well, but still it was shocking to be around twenty men raging from 17 to 80 years old, all practically naked.  We were greeted by a line of about five men, who all shook our hands, and then one would put a leaf wreath over your head; you had to bend forward, and holy-moly, look at what you're looking directly at now!

The men performed four dances for us, and they were all terrific.  They were laughing, singing, and energetically jumping around.  They wore bean pods around their ankles to add to the beat of the older men playing the drums and tam-tams (ni-Van carved drum).  A few 'photography' friends, as well as some of the books on photography, have said that when filming or shooting, try to get at a different angle; either lower or higher.  So I was squatting down, filming, I glanced away for a minute, and when I turned back and looked through the viewfinder, one of the dancers had turned and was enthusiastically jumping towards me ... and oh my gosh the 'boys' were coming right at me!  I nearly dropped the camera!

We moved to a different area to watch the women's dance, where the main attraction was a little girl trying to keep up with her mom.  The women's dance wasn't quite as exciting or energetic, but we still enjoyed ourselves.  Afterwards the men had us introduce ourselves and then provided us with drinking coconuts and their local dish, lap-lap.  We had to pay for the dancing, but it was well worth the small fee, and one of the things I feel they are totally justified in charging for.

We returned to Billabong, just before sunset, and Chris decided to make a quick dinghy fishing run. About ten minutes later I saw him coming back and figured he had broken something or tired quickly.  Imagine my surprise when he returned with a dog-toothed tuna!  Word got around the fleet quick, and the next day he was hosting more fishing lure 'sessions'!  Besides the barracuda which we threw back, we caught two other good-eaten fish during our short stay!

Banam Bay has a great beach with thousands of neat shells; we spent part of our morning just walking the beach and admiring the shells ... usually joined by curious children checking out what the whities are doing!  On our second evening in the bay we walked inland a bit to another village, who had string band.  They had the box-stick-string bass instrument as well, and a five-gallon barrel for the drum.  The locals and cruisers all danced, and there was an abundance of laughter.

No comments:

Post a Comment