Friday, September 11, 2009

Mare retrospective 2

Mare day 2. First mission- to find the Padawa caves. We thought these would be actual caves, but instead they turned out to be shallow grottos by the side of the road. They are used by the local Marean tribes for ceremonies and gatherings and have some interesting carvings and woven screens, so they are worth seeing. Padawa mission- success!

Next mission was to find the vanilla plantation. Both the Lonely Planet and our friend's French guide book were a bit sketchy on the actual location of the plantation. We found a signpost by the side of the road proclaiming a vanilla plantation with tours and souvenirs but nobody was around and the place looked dodgy. Vanilla fail? No! We kept driving just on the off chance that there might be another one that was open, and had the biggest win of our trip. Not only did we find another vanilla plantation, we found a guide who (for a small fee) gave us an hour-long tour through the vanilla, the rest of his family's land and up into the hills where the ancestors tombs are.


Coconut-fed pig
Passionfruit nom nom nom
View from the walk
When we returned from the walk we shared some lunch with the family who own the vanilla plantation. Lunch was a chicken and yam bougna- a traditional meal consisting of meat (chicken/fish/bat/prawns/whatever's handy) and starch (yam and potato) wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an earth oven. It's fairly tasty especially with some Maggi sauce.
The family who live at the vanilla plantation are really friendly and helpful and also run a small gite (homestay) where you can stay and participate in daily traditional life. If we hadn't already booked and paid for the hotel we would have stayed with them. I thoroughly recommend them to anyone who's going to Mare- I can't remember the name of the place but it's in the north between Roh and Tenane.
After our adventures in the vanilla plantation, we had just enough light left to check our the 'Trou de Bone' (Bone Hole) , a deep hole in the island limestone with water and a small island at the bottom. It's big, it echos and the boys couldn't resist lobbing a few rocks in to see how long they took to splash. Le trou de Bone (Bone Hole)

This mad the bone hole spirits angry and they had their revenge (courtesy of a sharp rock that didn't like being lobbed into the hole).


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