Back to par­adise

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

HE arrow is aimed straight be­tween my eyes. The ma­chete hovers above my throat. For­get the na­tives be­ing rest­less. Right now, they look down­right homi­ci­dal.

I’d averted my gaze from the jun­gle path for just a sec­ond, and now it looks like I’m go­ing in a cannibal cook pot.

Thank­fully, the lo­cal chief emerges to whis­per a word or two in the ears of his war­riors and I avoid the in­dig­nity of be­com­ing tonight’s din­ner.

I’m at a cul­tural vil­lage just out­side of Lu­ganville, on the is­land of Espir­itu Santo, Van­u­atu.

While I knew it was all just for show, my heart­beat takes a while to re­turn to nor­mal. Af­ter all, this is a place where early mis­sion­ar­ies ended up a whole lot closer to God than they planned to be.

How­ever, Van­u­atu’s blood-soaked past is a dis­tant mem­ory and these days, it’s Mother Na­ture dish­ing out most of the vi­o­lence.

In March, Cy­clone Pam lashed Van­u­atu with 250km/h winds in one of the most in­tense storms ever recorded.

Fif­teen peo­ple were killed and some vil­lages in the path of the cat­e­gory 5 su­per cell were vir­tu­ally wiped off the map.

But cy­clones are a part of life in the trop­i­cal South Pa­cific and the peo­ple of Van­u­atu have started to re­build. On the main is­land of Efate there are still some signs of the car­nage, but most of the tourism in­fra­struc­ture has ei­ther been patched up or es­caped Pam’s fury.

It’s a mes­sage tourism lead­ers are des­per­ate to spread as wary trav­ellers give the fam­ily-friendly ar­chi­pel­ago a wide berth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.