Taxis and banks

Fri 12 Sep 2014 04:29
5th September 2014


Started our journey back south through the islands of Vanuatu, our final destination - Port Vila, the capital, to prepare for our final voyage to Australia. We're taking advantage of a spell of high pressure to make some south before the SE trades kick in next week. 
 Still there are many places to explore en route.

Firstly there was the pressing need for cash. The nearest cash point to our last anchorage in Champagne Bay was an hour's taxi ride to Santo's main town, Luganville.  You need cash here, cards are not OK.

The taxi we ordered was disappointingly not Sam's Jet Set Town Taxi but a clapped out buckie belonging to a nearby villager. The back seat was missing with a flimsy recliner instead. The whole vehicle looked as if is was held together with string. 
Andrew got in with a woeful _expression_ and we headed off in the opposite direction to the main road picking up a few cousins into the open back. Andrew's mood wasn't  improved when the driver first had to deliver a letter to his father which created much family discussion and then announced he needed food.  Andrew by now was in Mr Mayfair Taxi mode asking whether the fare included the driver's lunch.  Our driver, meanwhile, was all smiles,  and after more bouncing along through the tracks in the village we stopped at a shack where a couple of youngsters produced two glass flagons of what appeared to be apple juice…..

He meant FUEL not food. Note the handy filter which was a rag in the funnel. 

So fuelled up off we bounced at breakneck speed to Luganville, the cousins in the back hanging on and trying to light their roll-ups. What the taxi lacked in comfort it excelled in the sound system which had only one reggae song on a loop. So on arrival in Luganville an hour later my husband crawled out with a 'slipped disc' and a migraine.  We still had no cash and found the ATM rejected our cards. The poor taxi driver then patiently followed us around the seedy banks of town in the hopes of getting paid.  Dis Bank Blong Vanuatu had no money at all, but eventually we found that keying in very small amounts we were successful. We spent the rest of the hot, sticky afternoon visiting every outlet until all were empty and our cards rejected. 
Now the return journey. Call Me Mr Picky wasn't having any of this 'no back seat' nonsense and proceeded to vet each eager taxi for lumbar support. I just stood on the pavement wondering is this the man I married.
Eventually he plumped for one with a zebra blanket in the back and yes good lumber support and more to the point NO speakers.  No brakes either we soon discovered, as he drove at a very stately speed whereby he could easily stop.  

The landscape was either coconut plantations strung with massive cobwebs and spiders and herds of grazing cattle (Santo beef is so tasty - Ed) or forests with trees draped in creepers, vines and a myriad of ferns and succulent plants growing on the boughs.

  so pretty..

and this …….
the joys of an unregulated churchyard. 

So this evening finds us in a quiet anchorage off the island of Malakula. Bye bye turquoise sea and white sands. Hello mangroves, murky water and the question of jellyfish and sharks. They say Sandwich Bay farther south has many attacks because they throw cattle carcasses in the sea.  The villagers paddled out to welcome us, we need to see the chief in the morning to ask to snorkel his reef and pay our respects and dues. Morris here carved his own outrigger canoe and paddle. He was in awe of Hebe.

They appear friendly but I think we'll take our remaining footballs in case they decide to have us for dinner. Cannibalism is still in the recent past on this island and the most notorious.  In fact we reckon those of our age can probably remember roast leg of insurance salesman. (Imo looks very tasty - Ed)

Check in for more instalments of adventures on Malakula.