2005 – YJ0
If you were lucky
enough to hear a YL voice/keyer calling CQ from
Our trip started from Vila – Elizabeth flew in from Vancouver and I flew in from Melbourne, luckily arriving on the same day. For the next week we stayed with friends, Captain Bob Wyllie of Air Vanuatu and his XYL, Cornelia, who own and run
Rainbow Gardens, Vanuatu’s largest nursery and market garden. Here we met up with the other members of the Vanuatu Amateur Radio Club and all had a good chinwag over a sumptuous afternoon tea.
One evening a group of us went out for dinner by ferry to a lovely spot, Hideaway Island, noted for its Resort chef and the fact it is the only place in the world that has an underwater post office – you buy a postcard and use a special pen for writing, then someone kindly swims out into the bay, dives down at the correct spot and posts your letter for you. This is then brought to the surface in the evening and sent on its normal way. Different.
Cornelia took us to the Saturday morning market and left us to our own devices to wander round the many souvenir, vegetable and flower stalls. We saw bundles of firewood for sale – lots of the local houses do not have electricity – and it is amazing what can be done with half a coconut and some shells (see photo).
Our next stop was the luxurious Resort on Aore Island, in the northern part of Vanuatu, a short ferry ride away from Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo. Santo played an important role during WWII when it accommodated close on 50,000 Allies. Today it is practically a ghost town with the interior covered in the creeper Morning Glory which, during the war, was planted as camouflage. Some of the old American Quonset huts can still be seen but the main reason people come to Luganville is to dive on the wreck of the S.S. President Coolidge, sunk in 1942. However, our aim was to play radio, so the gardeners at the Aore Resort climbed trees for putting up our dipoles and YJ0YL got on air again. We had to knock off at mealtimes though ‘cos the food was too good to miss! Bungalow No. 16 can be recommended for using for radio – large trees close by!
One morning we left our radios to go on a ½ day excursion into the interior of Santo and visit one of the native villages at Fanafo. It was very interesting seeing and learning about the village way of life but the roads getting there were very rough – we expected our 4-wheel drive vehicle at any moment to disappear down one of the many deep potholes! Incidentally, during our stay on Santo we experienced 5 (repeat 5) earthquakes – mild ones but …………… Still the locals said it was better than having 1 big one – hi!
After 10 days of being spoilt, we flew back to Vila then on to Auckland for an overnight stay before flying off to Tonga. Biny/ZL2AWY and OM Merv/ZL2AVY drove up from Hamilton and stayed the night with us while Aola/ZL1ALE and Dave/ZL1AMN, plus Celia/ZL1ALK spent the afternoon with us. Auckland was so very cold after Vanuatu – hi!