position S17 44.500 E168 17.900
Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Fri 7 Jun 2019 20:26
Friday 6th June
The dinghy outboard had chosen to play up when we arrived in Port Vila and was cutting out a few seconds after starting. I gave it the night to stop being silly but it was still misbehaving in the morning. Hence our trip to the customs office in the morning was via minibus rather than dinghy. The traffic is busy in town and just about every other vehicle is a minibus that stops on request and will pick you up if it is going your way. The fare is modest and the drivers look like they might eat you but are actually very friendly.
The customs officer in a large smart office took our papers from Tanna and crossed out the dates and ports so the form now read correctly for Port Vila. He made out a new cruising permit to include more islands that we might visit to the north and just as we thought we had got away too easily told us to visit the immigration officer round the back. His office was much more poky and he looked put out that we were bothering him but stamped our passports and relieved us of 4800 Vatu. Just a we thought we had got away quite easily but poorer he told us to visit the quarantine office down at the end of the wharf behind the containers. The quarantine building was a yellow shed sited as far as possible from the civilised part of the port -presumably in case they pick up something nasty in the course of their duties. It was locked however and no-one around to ask if anyone might turn up. Back to imigration who feigned slight surprise at the no show and promised to get the quarantine man to visit the boat when we expressed displeasure at his first suggestion to come back later. He couldn't offer a time that that might happen but we felt we had the moral advantage and chose not to hang around all day waiting on board. Other people told us that the officer had just told them to put their rubish in the yellow bin and charged another fee. We had already put our rubish in the wrong bin and weren't enthusiastic to pay more fees. We may be asked to produce a form or receipt when we check out of Vanuatu later on and hope we wont be fined for not having it.
Back to the boat for Tanna coffee and rather stale pastries from the supermarket. I took the carborettor off the outboard and put is back on and it realised it was being silly and runs fine. Then a tour of the craft stalls and an american yachtie had given Diana a tip about a secret garden some way out of town so we hopped on a minibus, the driver being fortunately in on the secret. A 15 minute ride took us to the site- a large roadside sign anouncing the secret to the world.
There was a restaurant near the entrance and although it failed Dianas test as we were the only clients (restaurants have to be full of people not showing signs of poisoning), the menu was too tempting to pass on. In an amazing rustic timber construction I had very good fish chowder and Diana a generous beef and mustard wrap overlooking the garden and a swish swimming pool.
We wandered around the large botanic garden with a maze of paths peppered with signs giving interesting historic facts or traditional legends. We learned about canibalism, religion, politics and the independence fight, along with stories of monsters and beasts, a girl tryng to escape an arranged marriage to an old man only to be stranded on a rock in a lake of her own tears so she starved to death. All in a delightful garden setting. We learned when leaving that the site is owned by an englishman- it is an imaginative and well designed tourist attraction but it may be little too eductional for the mass market. They also had nice cabins scattered around the garden to stay in but they were as deserted as the rest of the site. Lets hope they do better with the twice weekly live shows of traditional dancing and music.