As I write this, it’s a Friday and I am thinking back a few weeks ago, when I was getting ready to head out to Mele Bay with the ni Vanuatu family where I was staying, for a night of entertainment by Wan Smol Bag.
After several visits to Vanuatu, I had for whatever reason, missed the chance to see Vanua Fire perform so this trip, I wanted to make sure I was in Port Vila on a Friday night to see the show on the beach at the Mele Beach Bar.
I was staying in Port Vila in a ni-Vanuatu owned Guesthouse (Jabsina) and asked one of the families there if they wanted to come out to see the show. The teenage daughter, Emma was really keen as some of her classmates who live in Mele Village often visit the show on a Friday night and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I asked Emma if she would take care of the technical side of things – taking photos or video on my phone – I really am an amateur at these things! Emma was more than happy to oblige, and despite her not having her own phone and not being allowed to “play” on her father’s phone, she managed in a few minutes to navigate her way around my smart phone, had the settings sorted so in the pitch black, the photos and videos worked just fine! Youth are so clever. This is the young girl who dreams of becoming a doctor. Interestingly, Emma was telling me how strict parents are in Vanuatu and that children must do as their parents say. In turn, the parents sacrifice so much in order for their children to be educated. College education (about 12 years upwards) is not free and parents find all manner of ways to afford the approximate $1,500 NZD to pay for their children’s education. I really admire this in the parents; that they will go without so much in order for their children to have more opportunities than they did.
Despite the reported lack of tourists in Port Vila, as it was 5 weeks after Cyclone Pam, there was a huge crowd at the Mele Beach Bar and seats near the stage – ie – the beach, were at a premium. Some local children moved from the platform seats so that we could sit ringside – we were spoilt with an uninterrupted view.
The music cranked up and the actors started to light the beach torches to mark their stage. What developed for about three quarters of an hour was fantastic. The scene is perfect, their skill (and bravery in my mind) was excellent and the atmosphere electric. I am so glad that I finally got to see this show and I look forward to taking my own family back there some day so they can enjoy it too.
The show is free but donations at the end of the show are respectfully requested – and well worth every 5000 vatu note you put into the bucket to support the group Wan Smol Bag and the wonderous works they do in Port Vila and island communities around Vanuatu. So Tankyu Tumas Wan Smolbag, I thoroughly enjoyed your show.
Take a look at our You Tube link below, for mine and Emma’s efforts in making a movie about the Vanua Fire Show