We arrived on Tanna, one of the larger Vanuatu islands about 45 min South with about 25000 locals, in a brand-spanking CJR72 air conditioned airplane with irritatingly westernized service standards.
At the airport, Mona welcomed us with a warm and open smile.
She is a relative or our new friends in Port Vila and we will stay in her village for 5 days. We arrive in a little village of simplicity and natural beauty and were welcomed by the whole family.
We will stay in their village to discover their secret of happiness, as this is the place on earth, where the happiest people live according to the “Happy Planet Index”, which consists of data compiled by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth, based on criteria such as life expectancy, happiness and “environmental footprint”.
We have our own house built out of palm leaves, beautifully decorated with flowers.
From our terrace we look into the beautiful gardens while we listen to the waves crashing onto the reef.
This little village has many components we believe create a happy place:
You have your family and friends all together. People from other villages are always welcome and can stay if they like. Everybody has time to help each other or to just enjoy the time together.
It is a great example of “living off the grid” and enjoying the rich beauty of nature with a very small “environmental footprint”:
The gardens offer sun ripe bananas, coconuts, pineapples, pawpaw (papaya), passion fruit, oranges, limes, pampelmouse, mango, nuts, avocado, taro, sweet potato, tomatoes, cucumber – everything grows everywhere and is fully organic.
Then there are chicken around your huts, pigs and cows running around the forest, and plenty of fish, mussels and crabs on the reef.
The food is served decorated with beautiful flowers, butter or jam comes in beautiful shells instead of industrial containers. We begin our mornings with a wonderful breakfast with fresh pineapple, papaya, watermelon, banana, lemon leave tea, omelettes from very happy chicken, home baked bread , self made jam,….
Today at dinner we have had chicken with rice. It was the first time that Robinson experienced the full supply chain of chicken for dinner. On one hand I knew it is a healthy free range chicken, on the other hand, I have had a hard time not to think about it running through our house this morning. This was the day, I blessed my food with deep inner devotion, thanking the earth, the trees, the animals and the hands which provided and prepared this dinner for us.
There is fresh water from the well that is used for drinking and cooking. The cooking is done with coconut oil, wood or cow dung that is taken from nature surrounding us here.
They have built a little hut out of palm leaves, where you can shower under the blue sky or the stars at night listening to the birds’ singing or the cicadas and the waves.
There is also a toilet that offers a private space with fresh air.
All food rests feed the pigs, paper is At spille blackjack er en af de mest popul?re aktiviteter i kasinoer verden over. burnt or recycled, plastic is collected in the ground and gets covered with earth.
The only thing they still get from outside is electricity for some lighting and the fridge. But even for that, the sun would deliver a sufficient supply of solar energy.
Robinson is incredibly flexible to enjoy his new home and friends. He runs around and chases chicken, he tries to get some fruits from the trees, he plays boccia with coconuts or runs around with the other kids.
He eats the food without complaining. Sienna is persistent in asking for her preferred juice and asks for things that you simply cannot get here. And then, minutes later, she dives into her world, collects shells, arranges them in various different formations, bakes sand cake with coconut halves and decorates them with flowers.
At the beach you see the locals play around for hours, climbing trees and jumping into the water. Girl’s wellness rituals on the beach: opening coconuts with a big machete, pouring the milk onto the hair and rubbing it with sand over the skin.
Today we met Joe from the neighbour village. He knew we were from Germany and pulled out a letter he received in July 2001 from the NKL – Norddeutsche Klassenlotterie in Hamburg.
It was promoting the “chance of your life” to win money and cars and a new life. How ruthless can these marketing people be?
And sometimes these people here also need to earn money. What for? To pay the school bills or to build a cement house as the palm leaf supply is getting scarce or as better protection during cyclones.
Clever business men from New Zealand offer to pay the flight from Vanuatu to New Zealand for fruit pickers on kiwi farms. That means that they work the first month for free to pay the flight ticket and then come back after 3 to 6 months of hard work with a bit of money in their pockets. They have also seen a part of the “modern” world and learned about Western farming practices. And they appreciate the things they missed, mainly life with their family and community in their village.