A dog chases a thrown coconut through the spray of water, our guide runs past barefoot, and we’re clinging to a rope, eyes wild and smiles big.
It’s our last day in Port Vila, Vanuatu and we didn’t expect this. We’d settled on a picnic lunch on the beach, a quiet afternoon of snorkelling and then dinner on our balcony, but now, here we are, climbing through the Mele Cascades and literally (and punnily) gushing with happiness.
We are picked up at our hotel by Evergreen Tours and taken on a tour through Mele village (the biggest in Vanuatu). A group of local girls waves at us wildly. The local sow doesn’t (but is the unwitting model for many pictures).
On arrival at the base of the Cascades our guide walks us past mango and avocado trees. He fashions a hat for me out of leaves and assures me there will be swimming ahead.
We climb to a platform, change into our swimsuits and hand our camera to our guide. We gingerly find footholds and try to stay upright as the cascades force us down, and he leaps about taking our picture whenever we’re able to stand.
I’m bugging him because I want to go swimming and he just smiles.
Suddenly we reach a wall. He gestures for us to climb around it. “There,” he says as the rain starts to fall, “Swim there.”
This pool is just for us. We swim behind the falls, grinning like madmen.
“Jump,” he says.
There’s a bigger pool beneath us and we jump into it as he tries to photograph the attempt. He failed (or so he says) so we have to do it again.
These days, for many, exercise is rarely incidental. It’s booked and paid for in hourly slots.
Not so when I was young. There was a creek that ran through the suburb I grew up in. The local kids would spend the precious light hours after school acting out adventures, scrabbling over fallen logs, covered in mud. These afternoons were golden.
And Mele Cascades, golden, green and wet, brought it all back.Dripping and tired we gorge on tropical fruits and coconut, the dog suddenly at our feet. We throw some coconut.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Gaya Avery