Wild & Free: Episode 8 - Lelepa Island

Laurentine ten Bosch LAURENTINE TEN BOSCH

In Episode Eight, we learn about what lies beneath. Lelepa Island is a short boat ride from the main island and is famed for some of the best snorkeling and live coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. We even learn how the island ancestors used a flowering tree to tell the times of the year when fish are poisonous and dangerous to eat. Island life may seem all relaxing in hammocks and foraging coconut fairy floss, but it’s more than a wildlife playground and a rich ecological habitat; Lelepa Island has a history of its own. In WWII, the archipelago was used as a base for troops to aid against the offensive Japanese and guard Australia. Because of this, the island is home to wrecks of planes tucked away in the dense bushland. Hugo and Rangi stumble across a wrecked plane, that fell from the sky after running out of fuel, and the American bullets that came down with the unlucky pilot. 

On Lelepa Island, we reflect on the centuries passed, both Western and that of the ni-Vanuatu. James, Laurentine, Hugo, and Rangi visit with the local tribes who teach them the historic ways and the simplicity in life. As Vanuatu is formed on the ring of fire, the islands all emerged from the depths of the oceans and have intricate rock formations across the atolls - including caves. Traditionally the caves of Lelepa Island were used as a leprosy hospital, and the smaller holes were used to bake the bodies of their enemies. That’s right, cannibalism was historically a part of the way of life, where it was believed that consuming the body of your enemy would make you stronger. Fights were often over women, but most of the time they broke out over land ownership. This is a far cry from what we discovered in earlier episodes, where land was open and food was shared. The people of Lelepa Island are still very much living the simple, but happy life. Water has to be collected from the main island, and the five tribes live in harmony. The community is led by a chief, and people do not have to worry about buying food or water - but they do pay for clothes and their schooling. We join with the schoolchildren in song and learn just how we can live with simplicity and happiness.

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