Vanuatu - 3 Weeks Scuba around Volcanos

Came from Australia to Vanuatu and will stay here for a few weeks. Will travel to Tanna and visit the active Volcano Mount Yasur. Also, Vanuatu has a lot to offer for scuba diving. I'm excited to see this.

Spent the first few days in the capital Port Vila.

January 1 - LAVA in Tanna at Mt. Yasur

The last three days I have been on the island Tanna, to see the volcano Mt. Yasur. One of the most accessible active volcanoes around the world. After walking for hours and about 22 kilometers somewhere around the island, I would say Tanna is nice, but except the volcano isn’t much going on or to do in that place. The volcano is awesome and I went up two times, cause on the first day a cyclone has nearly blown away the whole volcano.

I went up there that first day and I never experience such a storm around me. Sand, ash, stones flew through the air and my skin felt like being rubbed with sandpaper. Opening the eyes was also nearly impossible and walking or standing normally on the top was impossible. The only shelter was some half meter stones and even behind them the sand and the little stones smashed to the back and into the face. Indeed I had one of these cheap transparent-plastic-bag-raincoats with me. I unpacked this one and put it over me the wrong way so that the hood is in front of me and I was able to put the hood over my face! It probably looked like I wanna kill myself…hahaha!! But actually it worked and with that shelter on my face, I was able to walk around with open eyes. But the wind was so strong that the raincoat broke and my shelter became unusable. Noticing after one hour, that it doesn't make sense waiting and struggling up there longer, I escaped as fast as possible down from the rim. There I went to some locals who have been waiting behind a little house as shelter. After a while, some cars came along full packed with other tourists and it was like a comedy show watching them climbing out of the cars. We had a lot of fun watching them and running after their hats or other little things. Some of them had short sleeved clothes, no raincoat or anything. They probably thought it's like a beach up there... I don't know... And most of them immediately jumped back into the car and drove the way back down to town.

So I went up again yesterday. The cyclone was gone, but it was still very windy and it rained sometimes very hard. But standing on the rim of the volcano and hearing and watching these explosions right from the edge, while lava and stones are shooting up 100 of meters into the air - so incredible!

January 9 - I thought a sea journey is FUN, but then I went on the boat!

I finally arrived in Santo, the biggest island in the north of Vanuatu. Originally I wanted to go to the island Malakula, the island below Santo. There are several cannibal sites and also the one, where the last human got munched in 1936. But somehow I found out that when I go to Malakula, then I have to stay there for about 5 days until the next boat comes and brings me to Santo. 5 days! 5 days? 5 days without any proper food like chicken, pork or beef from the grill? I had that dilemma already in PNG and it taught me a lot! And one thing I learned was “never ever spend again so many days in a such a lost place”! (no wonder those people became cannibals..hahaha)

The way from Port Vila to Santo with the boat was also one thing I probably never ever will do again. I knew it is a long long way up here and in the worst case it probably will take up to 24 hours until arrival. At least I sat 27 hours on that fully filled boat. On the boat were no beds. Just chairs. Small, uncomfortable plastic chairs without any paddings. No showers and no drinking water.

The ugly smell from the cargo goods and the living pigs and chickens they've transported on the roof. There were big waves and strong winds. The bright lights were always on and the feeling finally finding sleep was like defeating the last big boss in a boring but through video game. That’s a nice list of negative things, isn’t it? But at least they had enough clean toilets and enough toilet paper. Also, the view of the stunning passing by islands were like bonbons that brightened up the journey. And thanks god I 
came to the idea buying tinned food and water before departure. The best play was bringing a bucket of chicken wings from the takeaway in Port Vila. Once I grabbed it out of my backpack, everybody in and around 10 meters caught up the delicious smell and some of them set up a look as they want to kill me to get those chicken wings! But I forgot buying bottled water and therefore had to drink the disgusting smells-like-shit water they had there from the tab. No wonder I had to vomit…..

No idea how many days I will spend here in Santo. Probably until Monday and then back to Port Vila. Will go diving here cause dive books say, Santo has with its “SS President Coolidge” one of the best diveable WW2 wrecks all over the world.

January 13 - Diving to "THE LADY"

Today I was diving at the famous wreck "SS President Coolidge". It was a luxury passenger boat which was converted to a troop transport ship for more than 5000 soldiers. In 1942, it touched some mines and sunk. The wreck is now lying between 20 and 70 metres under the water and it needs a minimum of 10 dives to see the whole wreck.

With my two dives I did there, I probably only saw a fraction, compared to the 28'000 dives the owner of the dive shop did there in the wreck. Well, 28'000 - the way he spoke sometimes - I think he probably did a little bit too much :D!

The dive was a one of the most impressive I've ever did. Cause all the aisles through the wreck are very intact and the big and small stuff from the boat, crew, and passengers are still there as they left it behind in 1942. Missiles, helmets, guns and rifles, furniture, personal supplies. And the most
famous object is in the first class smoking room of the wreck. A porcelain statue, called "The Lady". It is on 40 meters below the surface and therefore the time to observe it, is just about 1-2 minutes.

In the afternoon the dive shop organized a second dive at the “million dollar point"! From above it looks like a normal shore and swimming beach! But it is a dumpsite, where at the end of WW2 the Americans throw ALL their "things" into the water. Probably they were too lazy to take it home :)! As of today many things have been removed or stolen. But spread over several dozen square meters, there are still cars, trucks, boats, canons and many more unidentified metal parts vegetating on the ground.

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