Loltong, Pentencost Island – 15/7/2011

Background Information on Loltong

Pentecost was first sighted during the 1606 Spanish expedition, led by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros.  It was also sighted by Captain James Cook during his voyage through the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) in 1774.  Although the island has Christian influences due to many visiting missionaries, it retains its strong traditional customs, in particular land diving.  Southern Pentecost is the birthplace of modern bungee jumping, stemming from Gol or land diving, that is carried out between April and June each year.  Land diving involves the construction of tall towers, 20 to 30 meters high, where young men with vines tied to their feet, dive from the platforms in a ritual to ensure both a good yam harvest and acceptance into manhood.

The island is home to around 17 000 people, with most of the population living in small rural villages on the west coast. There are four existing indigenous languages spoken on the island, including Raga, Apma, Ske and Sa. Most people on Pentecost also speak Bislama (pidgin English) and some speak French or English. Pentecost’s main exports are Kava, taro and Copra.

We anchored in Loltong Bay and went ashore and met some of the locals in the small village of Loltong.  We soon found ourselves on a guided walk, led by some of the local kids.

We stopped on our way up the mountain to look at the beautiful waterfall, which also provides water for the village.

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The kids showed us some of the young coconuts that they eat as a snack on their way home from school.  They eat the fluffy flesh on the inside, which tastes a bit like marshmallow. We finally reached the top of the mountain and were rewarded with a beautiful view over the bay.

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