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JOIN THE TRIBE; EXCLUSIVE Scots flee rat race to live in tropical paradise.

Byline: By GRACE MACASKILL

SCOTS eco-warriors Anna Kemp and Alice Chinn travelled thousands of miles to build paradise on a remote South Pacific island.

They fish with spears, drink from coconut shells, build bamboo homes, grow their food and sleep under the stars after drinking and dancing the nights away with the Fijian tribe who live on Vorovoro.

The 21st-century tribe was formed on the internet by people chatting online.

But founder Ben Keene took members out of the virtual world when he leased a desert island and invited them to live on it.

City analyst Anna, of Troon, Ayrshire, quit her high-flying job in London to join the castaways.

The 25-year-old has spent two months helping with construction and conservation and teaching children at the island school.

Speaking on Vorovoro, she said: "I'm due to leave in two weeks but I love Fijian life so much that I have asked to stay a further four months.

"I've always been interested in the environment. I helped build accommodation out of bamboo and leaves and planted crops and spices.

It's not just about making our own community self-sufficient but helping the local tribespeople, too.

"The islanders welcomed us with open arms. We often join in their tribal dances. It's an honour to live in their world. I've helped out at the school, teaching the local children."

Ben, a former tour guide, paid island chief Tui Mali pounds 46,000 for the lease of Vorovoro until 2009.

Anyone can join the eco-community.

Castaways stay for up to three months for pounds 180 a week. Around 200 people have taken part, from German tourists to English schoolteachers and up to 30 people live on the island at any one time.

Ben, now known as Chief Bengazi, said: "It's an idyllic existence. People can do as much or as little as they like. There is nobody bossing them around but most get stuck in.

"We've had quite a few Scots. They make the best islanders because they have a real work ethic and just get down to business."

Psychology graduate Alice, 23, of Cupar, Fife, said: "When I saw Vorovoro it looked idyllic. As I got closer, people came out of the jungle and off the beach to welcome me.

"Ben said, 'Welcome home'. It sounds cheesy but I did feel like I was coming home. I loved getting involved. I helped build a bure, a house of bamboo and leaves.

"At night we joined Chief Tui Mali and his tribe and drank Kava, local alcohol which tastes like mud.

"We took part in the Meke, traditional dancing, and the Fijians laughed as we tried to copy them.

"Mother's Day was a highlight. All the men cook for their women that day. The women got to eat first and the men eat the leftovers.

"That night I watched baby turtles hatch and make their way to the sea. It was incredible."

Aberdeen University medical student David McCulloch, 21, spent five weeks on Vorovoro.

He said: "There were sea snakes and mosquitoes but the advantages far outweighed a few bites and the danger of being bitten by one of the world's most dangerous snakes."

Life on the island will be featured in a five-part BBC documentary on the project in autumn.

For more information log on to www.tribewanted.com

SUNDAY EMAIL

g.macaskill@sundaymail.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Jungle boogie: Anna, left, shows tribal dance; Isle jinks: Alice larks around; Catch of the day: Alice and fellow castaway Mirjam spear their tea
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 8, 2007
Words:588
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