The first swim of a swim trekking experience is full of excitement and anticipation and nerves in equal parts.
There was no need for nerves on this trip. Yves, Matthew and Lizzie our guides had planned a great first day.
It was a sunny wind free day so we headed across the island in mini buses where the boats met us for the 20 mins ride to Emao a fairly remote island with 6 small villages and two primary schools.
We arrived to the wail of a conch shell. A local dressed in leaves was blowing a greeting to us.
We unloaded and made our way up the grassy slope to be met by a group of leaf covered men who danced a welcome.
Yves said these people had not had western visitors before. They greeted us in song and dance and everyone lined up to shake our hands as a hibiscus was placed behind our ear.
We were so moved by this beautiful greeting. Yves presented the village chief with books, pencils, paints poster and things for the children.
Then it was swim time. We creamed up and hopped in the banana boats for a ride along the coast. The coral reef was visible in the crystal clear water.
Safety instructions and then into the water. Unlike any swim trek I’ve been on – we swam as one group. A guide in the front middle and at the back to keep us contained and away we went.
Conditions were perfect. Warm, calm and current assisted we swam comfortably along the coast. We swam over coral, alive with little coloured fish. Parrot fish, striped sea snakes, electric blue star fish a turtle and lots of coral.
The reef was damaged in the big storms Vanuatu experienced recently as were the villages. The one we visited on Emao lost all but 3 buildings So sad for people who really don’t have much to start with.
We swam and swam stopping for a chat and a regroup.
It was exhilarating. Everyone was quietly pleased with their effort.
Some towed little floats for safety. Well done John, Colleen and Shean for helping us.
Our boatmen did a little fishing. And
We finally returned to Village and had some downtime. Lunch – rolls for most salad for the gluten free.
Suddenly it was time to leave so the village chief farewelled us and gave a blessing!
Home via the sand island. A little mystery.
Now we’re sitting at Breakas sipping gin and beer.
A good day.