|The main road through the wonderfully-named village of Fartapo, Malakula Island|
In the outer islands, life is very simple and relaxed. The villages still look very traditional, with houses built from wooden frames, wall panels woven from palm leaves and shaggy roofs; unlike Fiji there isn't a lot of that corrugated iron roofing which becomes so lethal when a cyclone dislodges it. Each village will have at least one chief and a process known as grade-taking (involving traditional dancing and the killing of pigs) can, as far as we can ascertain, elevate anyone to the status of chief. Anyone who is male, that is - women have a pretty unequal status here.
For visiting yachties it's good form, on arrival, to go to say hello to the chief to ask permission to be there and to check for any tabu areas where we shouldn't stray. Unlike in Fiji, there is no formal sevusevu ceremony and so far we have been welcomed with smiles and firm handshakes. The chief of Fartapo had to be woken up at about 11.00am by his busy wife after, we suspect, a heavy night of kava drinking (again a male-only sport here) - it turned out he was Chief Graham and was probably only about 25 years old.
|After the cyclone of last year we find lots of safety signage in bislama - this one is for the tsunami escape route|
|Whilst the local houses are maintained with new leaves and panels, 'foreign' buildings such as this church don't see much in the way of maintenance|
|Children on the beach followed us to play|
|Writing names in the sand is a good trick as sometimes they are spoken quickly|
|Laura makes friends|
|Kerry gets to grip with the roasted piglet|
|on-passage lunch: fritata with feta cheese and creme fraiche topping|