It was a busy morning with visitors. We had four people between 8 and 9:30 am show up at the Lenakel wharf whistling or calling over for us to come to shore. A few times I looked over but did not recognize the people and so I kept doing my own thing until they called over again and again.
Our first visitor was Daniel from the tourist office helping to arrange for me to visit the various resorts on the island. The second was our friend Mary who had made some colourful feather hairpieces as a gift for us and stuffed them into a hollow piece of bamboo for safekeeping. The third was a lady that the boys had met at the market. She had woven some custom handbags for the kids to give as gifts to people back at home. She had carefully woven names into the side of the bag. Our fourth visitor was 15 year old Jamie who had stopped by on Sunday and wanted to see how we were doing. I asked him to come back later in the day as I was a little tired from zipping back and forth in the dinghy all morning.
Daniel took me first to the Tanna Lodge. It is located south of Lenakel down a dusty road that passes a number of old thatched roof villages. It has a great location on the ocean with some very comfortable bungalows scattered around a few acres. The main hub of the property was the blue salt water swimming pool on a wooden deck beside the restaurant. A great place to swim around as there can be currents in the ocean in front of the hotel.
Our second stop was the Tanna Evergreen Bungalows. To get there we drove North past the island’s airport. While currently under landscaping renovation, it is a cozy hotel with some spacious lounge areas and bungalows scattered around the resort. Many people were gathered around the lobby getting their internet fixes as we walked through. The kids had fun walking down to the ocean pools to feed the fish. In a few months the landscaping should be finished and will make the various rock walls and maze of waterways, pathways, swimming pool and bridges look stunning.
The third stop was the White Grass Ocean Resort. This is perhaps the fanciest and most luxurious of the resorts on the island of Tanna. The view overlooking the ocean from the dining area was stunning and there are little outcroppings of mini beaches overlooking the ocean from the hillside. Each sandy outlook has some lounge chairs and palm trees perched on the top of the hillside. This resort also has a long dock jutting out along the coral reef for some water based tours along the coastline.
After visiting the resorts the kids were a bit tired of sitting in the back of the truck to go from hotel to hotel. We had packed a picnic and so we headed to a nearby beach. It was a rough road that only locals would have known about. The road had two tire tracks with tall grass growing to both sides and in the centre of the tracks. It led past a few thatched roof homes to the beach. Our hosts found some woven palm fronds and asked the people in the small beach homes if they had more. They graciously gave us some more woven fronds to lay down underneath us to act as our picnic blanket. There was no swimming at this beach due to all of the coral but it had been drizzling all day and so we had no need to get wet. Instead the kids explored the beach and went in search of beach shells worth collecting. They found many more beach treasures that will only weigh down our luggage that much more. I honestly don’t know how we are going to get all of our bags home. They are going to be heavy. Teyauna had a great time climbing the knarled trees on the shorline that were perfect for a five year old to climb.
We headed back to Lenakel for Alyssa to go to one of the two only places on the island with internet service. She had been waiting for a few weeks to discover where in the world she is going to spend the next 18 months. She has gone through the long process of filling out her application to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as we have travelled through the South Pacific islands and has been on pins and needles for weeks. While in Bora Bora, French Polynesia she had an interview with her Bishop through Skype, while in American Samoa she had her doctor’s medical checkup. While in Western Samoa she had her Stake President’s interview and dental checkup.
As soon as Alyssa saw that she had received an email with the information on where she was going to be serving, she was excited. Jaeden ran back to the sailboat where I was and we gathered everyone up (including Zakary who was in bed) so we could all be together to find out together where she was going. We all went over to the internet shop, contacted family back at home and had a 9 user Google plus video conference call going. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunties, Uncles and cousins were all gathered when she read the email saying where she would be spending the next year and a half. Alyssa was ecstatic with her call to serve as a missionary in the Salt Lake City, Utah mission. Unfortunately the rest of the information was not yet forwarded to her so she was unsure on many of the details including when she was to be going. It wasn’t until an entire day later that she found out she will be leaving on February 12th 2014.