Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ranon, Ambrym

Ranon, Ambrym (9/17)

It was another motor-sail over to Ambrym.  We anchored near Ranon Village, as we knew they offered tours to the volcano.  Ambrym's active volcano is purportedly not as impressive as Tanna's, but the ash planes are supposed to be an impressive site.  Unfortunately, we learned that the volcano was 'closed' for the planting of the yams (related to spiritual beliefs).  Typically they don't close the volcano until October, but this year they had planted early.  We joined some other cruisers who had also just come over from Banam bay and were taking a village tour in order to look at the wood carvings.  We had to pay for the tour, 400 vatu ($4) each (normally 800, but on special then), which according to the little paper we had been given included tour-like stuff, such as pointing out various plants & foods, demonstrating weaving and carving, and so on.  What we got was a person taking us around from one wood-carver's home to the next, showing us the carvings that were for sale.  Granted, we wanted to see carvings, and even purchase some, but where was the "tour"?  Chris and I only bought a couple of items, but the cruisers we were with spent tons of money ... and still at the end of the day we were all charged for the "tour".   Ranon is definitely one of the places in Vanuatu who has taken tourism and making a buck a bit too far.

Ambrym is also where the Rom dance takes place.  Originally I had really wanted to see the dance, but a few other cruisers didn't give the dance that great of reviews.  The costume is quite impressive, but paying $40 bucks each just for the costumes seemed a bit pricey, so Chris and I decided against it. With no Rom, no volcano, and everything else at Ranon costing money, and with our visas running out of town, we decided it was time to head back towards Vila.

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