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This was our  2nd time aboard  the expedition ship ... Clipper  Odyssey.

We  LOVE  exploring the islands of the South Seas..... and since there are so many of them,  I don't  think we'll run out of new experiences there for a long long time.

The purpose for this particular trip .... was to be in the most advantageous spot possible .... in order to view  the  Leonid  Meteor  Shower.


We arrived several days before the rest of the group was due




The center is a  showcase for native art :    traditional ... as well as  modern  (  like this cow - made out of  Corned Beef cans )


It's a great place for

seeing  whales  & snorkeling.

You can see from the photos... what a delight the water is.


The natives treated us to a really nice  "welcome".

Had a lovely walk & explored some

bat caves ..... then got in the zodiacs and did some river exploration.


LIMESTONE  CLIFFS   .... remarkable  formations  with names like  " The  Sphinx"   &   "Towers  of  Notre  Dame ".

( and at the  bay  entrance  is  "The  Chicken " ).                             Welllll  .... I just thought that little  tid-bit  was too good to pass up.


The natives had decorated the little pier with tree branches for our visit


We joined a nature walk the Ornithologist and the Botanist .... and came across the very rare  "Bottle Tree"  & the exotic   "Can Bush "


We had another lovely welcome  .... and the natives presented us with hand woven  palm-leaf  hats.


We were invited to visit their  "sacred hut"  to attend a small talk by one of the village elders .    As usual,   the custom is to leave your shoes outside.



Well ............   Some of us  DID.                                                                                                                                                  And  some of us  DIDN'T


As we approached .... I could tell it was going to be one fantastic  day.

The volcano had been erupting all day ...and we were going to get up close & personal with the fireworks.



Ever seen a  Witch  Doctor  before  ?


Basically .... what the sign near the mail box says is  that in case any letters are incinerated during an eruption .... the island postal dept. can't be held responsible.


Those rocks on the ground are bits & pieces that the volcano spit out.

Getting to the top was an accomplishment  just in itself .... since the  "soil"  had it's own ideas as to our rate of ascent.


One of the few shots I was able to take that showed what the inside of the caldera looked like.

For the most part .... there was just too much smoke.   There was a lot of activity that day  !!!


Is this a  "happy camper" ... or what  ?!!!

Photo taken of the position I occupied during most of the  "show"


It's taking a slight  "breather" ...but gearing up for another "ka-boom".



"Thar  She  Blows !!! ".           Since we were up top for several hours,   I had plenty of opportunities to take some really great shots.

 Wanna  see  the other  250  ?


The noise of the explosions was so amazing .... and it was almost  constant.



There are twin volcanoes here ...

Mt. Marum  &  Mt.  Benbow.

These 2 guys have erupted 7 times so far ... since 2000.

( unfortunately it wasn't during our visit ).


The hand carved flutes  &  "seed pod" ankle bracelets are used in their dances.                 And the carved wooden masks have some of the finest work you can find.


Then the complicated patterns of the dance are drawn into the sand.

The flute player begins the ceremony


( sort of like the coach does for football plays )


And here is the completed pattern for the dance we will see.

 the pattern changes... depending on the purpose of the dance


The islands here still use  " traditional"  magic  & conjuring tricks as part of everyday  life.

The island is considered to be the country's sorcery  center



During this whole trip ... we've made it a point to pay special attention to the signs

( most of which are quite amusing ).


And  the spiders on these islands

 are quite beautiful  ....

and  BIG ...

 you don't often walk into one by mistake.



Million  Dollar  Point

This is where the U.S. Military dumped  TONS of equipment at the end of the war.

( canned  food - bulldozers - trucks - jeeps - crates of  Coca Cola ,  etc. )

It's still down there ... providing interesting snorkel sights.

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