In honor of our team's touching down on April 14, 2005, we decided to be tourists for a day in April 2006. We selected a "Sailaway Cruise" that is offered by a local tour company. One of the local Christians, Ure, agreed to babysit Kaela for the day.
The bus picked us up at our house at about 8:30 on Monday morning, and drove us halfway around the island to the catamaran. Once on board, we set sail for Hat Island. The only other tourists onboard was an older couple from Australia. For those of you who are Survivor fans, that is the island that was always in the background on the show (it looks just like a hat floating in the water). The boat anchored near the shore, and it was time to get wet. Aaron and I were able to Scuba Dive with the skipper, while Shawnda, Cindy and Mike snorkeled around the boat.
After about 45 minutes in the water, we got back on the boat for lunch - chicken wings, rice, bread, fruits and vegetables. Hat Island has been deemed "tabu" by local chiefs (thus there are no inhabitants), because it is the burial ground of Vanuatu's most famous chief, Roimata. Upon his death, many members of his family and fellow chiefs were buried alive alongside him, thinking that they should go into the next life along with their fearless leader. We were able to swim to shore and see the massive gravesite. The skipper also had photos from an excavasion that took place in the 1960s which proved the Roimata legend to be true. It was a very interesting site to see.
We swam back to the boat and then headed for "Survivor Beach," which is the place where the television show was filmed (we saw the girls' camp and their garden). The show was filmed back in 2004, so there wasn't much left of the production. While anchored there, the staff members gave us bread and chicken bones to feed to the fish. We saw some huge fish as a result of that (some over three feet long, with big white teeth!).
Our last stop was Paul's Rock, a huge underwater land mass. We all jumped in and snorkeled, this time hand feeding the fish (yes, even the huge ones) from underwater. It was incredible! We lounged around a bit more on the boat, and then headed back to the mainland. The bus brought us back home about 5:30. We were exhausted from so much sun and swimming, but it was a delightful outting, and one we felt was well-deserved. Here's to another twelve months of spreading the gospel...