Just…living in Vanuatu | The Family Without Borders

The Family Without Borders

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Just…living in Vanuatu

Atchin (Vanuatu, Malekula): Hanna and her pirate friends

So… we had in our hands a little paper with name „Saraken“. We knew he lives on the Atchin island (which is close to Malekula island in Vanuatu) and that his daughter Rachel works in Port Vila in a hotel. We knew he lives with his wife and little Nanneth, daughter of Rachel. And we found on some map where this Atchin is…

At the corner of the island, where more-less Atchin should be, we crossed the bush and stood on the beach. Yes! There is a little island in front of us. Yes! There is even some boat on the water, but.. wait wait.. they had already started, they are already fighting with the waves! But when the guys from the boat saw us – they simply came back to the land, took our backpacks, carried our kids and helped us to get on the board. Only on the other side they asked: – So… where are you heading to? – Mr. „Saraken“..? – I smiled. And I had no idea that it was like a key word, like a password to a magic cave, we gonna spend next week in.

Friendly (that’s his name!) Saraken was a… friendly guy ;), who doesn’t hear much. His wife: Loleth, became our angel, guide and a teacher. Little Nanneth was shy for the first 3 days, then everything changed. There was no way of sleeping in our tent. They told us that they will not survive it, if their guests will not stay in their house. So we did.

How many things can man learn in one week! How many laplaps (a traditional & everyday food, made in the earth oven) man can it! How many hair tricks, how many coconuts’ tricks’, going with a kayak, hanging on lianas, drinking traditional kava (only for man but..;)…

We took part in the party for new born baby (1 week old, first time going out of the house and being shown to the public), in the celebration 100 days after a dead of an important person (all day cooking together!), in the anniversary of church community on the island (cake!! first time since ages!), in Mother’s Day fun (that was my 4th Mother’s Day this year ;))).


How many moments, which brutally force you to think, man can experience. Like this one at the water well. A place, where between 5am and 11pm, there is always a woman, pulling up the bucket full of water. Once we passed by and Tom took two buckets and helped one woman carrying them to her house. You CANNOT imagine a face of this woman. And of all the other women around. – ???? – their eyes were saying. – This doesn’t happen. Just doesn’t – told me later Nancy. – I even can’t tell you what I think about it.

And what do I think? Is it our job to show things like this? To destroy a stable and organised structures? Do you think that the idea of stronger man helping with water will be coming up more often there now..?


Or love stories! The marriages of all the women I talked to (and, as you can guess, I talked to many ;), were planned many years in advanced. The boys were chosen: because of the family’s position, because of the geographic advantages, because of old friendships between the fathers. – Interested? Excited? Intrigued? About a man?! – they didn’t even understand my questions. – Looking good? But what for? – Yes… What for should they try to look good or better, if their husbands will anyway fuck them always and anytime they will want. Maybe looking good would make it even worse..?


And an amazing lesson of giving (or rather receiving) presents we have got. From morning on, one neighbour would bring us full hands of nuts, another one would bring oranges, one more: huge like 3 hands avocado. This girl waved such a little bag for me, this guy sculpted this wooden bird for Tom. And take this, and take that, and this is for you, and this you should pack! Oh good. Beautiful, yummy, amazing things we were receiving kind of non stop.

Do you know how difficult it can be, when you, in your family backpack, have NOTHING which is not needed. No gram, about which you didn’t think for weeks before the trip. Of course we were sharing all we had: our cards for playing, ukulele, pencils, cans with tomato sauce, old rice, eggs, hair brush and deo. And time, and interest, and smile and stories. And this seemed to be even more…


I was happy to see my girls putting all those three things together: playing in the same way with girls and with boys. Learning to cook with older women and learning to watch the turtles with men. Falling in love! (just see the pictures of Mila with little Isabel – that was absolutely amazing, not-explainable love!) And giving. Seeing them just taking off their favourite dresses, just to give something as a gift, was melting my heart.

We also spend very inspiring day in the island’s „kindergarten“ and made a big decision about our gift for the community. More about both – in two next posts. Stay with us ;)

Our first book is out!

We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »


  • Karolina
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 17:03 | Permalink

    Guys, I love your blog, I love your adventures, I love your pictures but I think your stories could be polished sometimes before publishing. Today I am puzzled. What did you really wanted to say in the part ”Love” when speaking about f***ing? I cannot say, weird thing, very unexpected. Do you think this is the life of this women, that this is the only truth about their relations with their husbands? I don’t know. Even if this is the hard truth, the bare reality, I wouldn’t like anyone to describe my life in this way, even if this person is million miles away.

    • Anna Alboth
      Posted October 20, 2014 at 09:23 | Permalink

      That’s what they were telling us, that’s what we were watching for few months. We were also puzzled and totally surprised, while looking for “love” and getting only those kind of stories.

  • Posted October 19, 2014 at 19:43 | Permalink

    Lovely piece, very well written, it makes me think a lot and put everything into a different perspective!

    • Anna Alboth
      Posted October 20, 2014 at 09:24 | Permalink

      Thanks for this comment! For us it was really mind-blowing trip and giving sooo much of another perspective.

  • Posted October 23, 2014 at 12:37 | Permalink

    świetne zdjęcia ! :)

    • Anna Alboth
      Posted December 1, 2014 at 13:13 | Permalink

      dzięki!! przekażę mężowi :))

  • Posted December 4, 2014 at 11:56 | Permalink

    Cudowne jest zdjęcie Mili z Isabel :) Zawiera dużo emocji i ciężko oderwać od niego wzrok.

    Pozdrawiam :)


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