Back to paradise
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.