Of all the romantic places we have visited Vanuatu stands alone as the most primitive and most unchanged of all island groups. On Tanna the homes and villages existed much as they have for hundreds of years. Picturesque little huts made from bamboo and palm fronds housed large families. None of the homes we visited except the doctor’s family had electricity or running water. Tucked in between mango and orange trees little clusters of rough civilization were joined to one another by bumpy jungle paths. We loved this island. We made dear friends and visited exciting Volcanoes, swam in crystal blue waters and explored forests of giant banyans. Although we could not find very much variety of food in their tiny stores we loved the busy market filled with all kinds of island fruits and veggies. Saying good bye was hard but taking Andrew one of our new found family members with us made it a bit easier. He sailed with us to Port villa before leaving on a plane to New Zealand.
The first few days we were in Port Villa consisted of cleaning the boat and giving away the last of our clothes and food and anything else our new owners would not want left on the boat. I had scarcely had time to look around this busy port town when we were invited to take a tour around and visit a Place called Eden on the River. As our van bumped down the grassy road that led up to this destination I had no expectations. We were greeted by the owners who welcomed the kids to wander through their family farm and pet the and feed the different animals. It was acres of tamed gardens on the edge of a jungle river. The kids loved the fresh cold coconuts they were offered and laughed to watch the brightly colored coconut crabs devour the left over coconuts. These huge creatures looked dangerous and we were warned not to let them have a chance at your hand or finger.
Before long a Nivan guide came and offered to help us into our gear. We were confused. When questioned further we were shown state of the art full body harnesses. These were clearly brand new and seemed very out of place here in Vanuatu. It took only moments dressed in our light weight climbing gear before and we were led to the river. I felt like I stepped back into a ‘land before time’ as cascades of green sparlking jewels splashed their way through the small ravine. This place took my breath away. Thick vines swung over the rushing waters and over sized ferns, flowers and fruit trees adorned the edge of this glistening river. Although the sun was high in the sky it seemed to be coming from below the surface of the waters. I wanted to drink it up. I felt like forgetting whatever we were up to next and just jumping in and becoming one with this magnificence. Smells of tropical flowers and sun warmed fruit drifted along our path. We were entranced. To our delight we were shown the highlight of our visit. Eden on the River was aptly named. We were now shown the intricate set of bridges that allowed us to become part of this picture. With our harnesses on we were ready to traverse across the state of the art bridges that criss crossed the river. Although it was meant to be a bit tricky and seem rickety I knew it was brand new and we were perfectly safe. It was a little scary for Teyauna but she did beautifully and I stepped behind her the whole way. She was particularly delighted to end the bridge tour with a zip line. I admit to being very surprised at this level of attraction on Vanuatu. I guess the kids must have felt the same way as me because as soon as they were unharnessed they jumped in the magical liquid. We were treated to a large platter of fruits grown right on the property. We have tasted a lot of fruit on our travels. There were however some new ones we had not had on this trip. There were piles of fresh pineapple, papaya, bananas, passionfruit, mangoes but the we had never tasted chocolate pudding fruit, soursop or jacks fruit. This was a surprise and a perfect fit for this unique island.