Thursday, April 26, 2012


As is Vanuatu tradition, when we rowed ashore at a small island north of Port Villa, the first man to greet us, 'Paul', became our host and guide for the duration of our stay. He regularly offered us valuable cocoa pods as a snack and other delicacies from both his own farm and his neighbors'. He looked quizzically at us whenever we'd ask him (in broken pidgin or English) whether it was all right to take food from a neighbor. They have a liberal sense of property rights in Vanuatu. Though Paul worked several hours a day to keep his 'garden' productive, he also helped himself to his neighbors' produce. Perhaps his 'hosting' duties were his justification. We helped him plant taro root in this plot of land that he'd slashed and burned. He lit several piles of limbs that we helped him gather and they smoldered all day while we worked. It's sad to see the amount of land destroyed to maintain a single family for a year. But the land is so fertile and plentiful that there is not much sense of conservation in Vanuatu.

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