Some Ambaean men see the current Manaro volcanic eruption as a “good thing” which stands the chance of changing their island for good as a tourist attraction, similar to Yasur Volcano on Tanna.
John Tari, from Saranamundu in West Ambae says his brother called him from Ambore Police Station Evacuation Centre, to say that the eruption is most likely the best thing to be happening to their island.
He reportedly told his brother, “If the eruption is going to stay long term, tourists will follow tour guides to the plateau to take pictures and hear custom stories how according to tradition, the Manaro is Ambae’s paradise”.
He agrees that in the vicinity of the Manaro lakes, visitors can smell sulfur. “Young men shade their noses with calico when they go up there”, he says.
Tari who is himself a tour guide for tourists says it takes two to three hours to reach the summit while on his own; it takes him one hour to reach the Manaro.
Asked how different the local environment now looks, he replies, “My son on the island says sand now covers our gardens and there is sand everywhere.
“Our gardens are ruined and young people fill the sand in bags to use later to build plaques to mark the eruption”.
Asked how their elderly people have reacted to the Government order to evacuate, he says some of them are reluctant to move but that the police keep reminding them that they have one mandate only and that is to make sure everybody is evacuated from the island. It would be tragic of the disaster struck and caused the death of anyone who was left behind.
He says Ambore Police Station Evacuation Centre where his brother is a cook has over 500 people, while another Centre at Navitora is also full of people waiting for evacuation.
He says about 4,000 people have already moved to Santo from the West while young people are quite happy to wait until the last minute to see what happens. There is still sufficient food and water sent in from Port Vila to feed the people, he says.
Previously there was a little bit of smoke and fire but now Tari says, there is a constant rumble and bursts coming out of the crater are a spectacular fiery sight at night.
Would he want to see the eruption with his own eyes”? “Oh yes, I would want to go to see with my own eyes but perhaps later, i have to respect Government advice to evacuate”, he says.