The island Tanna

11 October 2015
Femke Lobach

IMG_2861I have been staring at my laptop for the last ten minutes. I am a sort of emotionally overwhelmed by all the events of the last days.

We are the only yacht at anchor in Port Resolution, named after Captain Cooks’ vessel, he who first discovered this bay, surrounded by Palm trees and very old Banyan trees. The hills are incredibly green, the water is blue and the beach is black. Behind the hills I see an active volcano spitting out huge clouds of ash and steam. At the entrance of the bay large waves crash on a reef and the sound is overwhelming as there is no other sound to be heard. At night when it is pitch black this sound is even more violently present.

Close to the beach fishermen in wooden canoes row in a circle with nets hanging from boat to boat, the circle gets smaller, the nets close around the fish. The sun is low and huge and everything has an orange glow to it. Higher up the hills I see small villages. The houses are made of palm leaves and hard wood. When I look closer I see more, bits and pieces of clothing hanging in trees, roofs that have caved in, banana trees without fruits, fields with hardly any crop, grey leafless trees with broken branches and huge landslides.

DSC05260Five months ago cyclone Pam hit the island of Tanna, winds of over two hundred knots, seas of over twenty meters high crashed over Port Resolution, destroying everything in its path. Most of the people made it in time to the two concrete buildings of the villages: the school and the market hall, cold, afraid and completely overwhelmed by nature. The children are still traumatized. Some families lost everything: their house, their harvest even their clothes.

The villagers are slowly recovering. They don’t have enough food that is what chief Johnson told us, he applied for extra rice at the local government because he is worried. They have fish but not every day, they have yams, manioc, snake beans, some tomatoes but not enough. Fruit is still not growing. It takes a long time for the banana and papaya-trees to recover. We are totally overwhelmed by the after-effects of the cyclone on a village like this. People are very friendly, there is a strong community feeling, they talk and still laugh a lot.

DSC05293And here we are on our yacht, with food, clothing and more luxury. And as one fisherman asked us: “why do you need a big yacht if you are only with two?”



2 comments to “The island Tanna”

  1. diederik says:

    oooopsss, that is something impossible to answer.

  2. appi says:

    You need a big yacht so you can share with more people…