2019 Vanuatu The Delights of Port Vila
The Delights of Port Vila
The first of course being the Independence Day celebrations in Independence Park. On the 30th July 1980 Vanuatu shook off the shackles of Britain and France and many of the ni Vanuatu residents have had mixed feelings over the issue ever since. However, although the young generation is taught about this event in history they are aware of how things are now and not so much how the present situation fits in with the past and shapes the future. Many older folk are worried that the new independence has brought a vulnerability as far as exploitation by foreign countries more powerful than this small archipelago is concerned.
The park was full and the surrounding streets jammed with hundreds of pickup trucks full with people from the outlying villages who wanted to join in this day of celebration. An army band was playing in the arena within the park and the army was marching to the beat. The overall impression was one of vibrant colour in a friendly atmosphere.
We walked slowly with the crowd around the road area looking for a spot where we could view the proceedings and came to a TV van that was recording the event. In front of it was a gap and we stood next to seated folk, women in their Mother Hubbard dresses and sometimes family members in clothes made of the same material, as dignitaries stood to make their speeches and high ranking army officers very slowly raised the Vanuatuan Flag.
Back down the hill at the bottom of the Park all the food and trinket stalls were laid out and we could have bought anything from burghers and chips to lap lap and rice. Lap lap is the national dish and is made from grated manioc, taro or yam roots, squeezed to a doughy paste, laid on wild spinach leaves and soaked with coconut milk then topped with either meat, flying fox bats, or seafood, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked amongst hot stones in one of their ground ovens. It is very tasty, we had it with river shrimp in Narovorovo when we were there.
Next day we got our modem topped up so I can send you these blogs and we can communicate with the outside world again and then stopped off at the pretty little Village Café overlooking the water and Sunset Cruise ship and relaxed over iced coffee and croissants.
When we first arrived we were sampling the local brew in the Yachting World Marina when we noticed a young man wearing a marine electronics T-shirt and clearly working on one of the yacht moored stern on to the quay. Well fortunately he knows all about recalcitrant auto pilots so he agreed to “Come and have a look” just as soon as he had finished his present job.
Well in a matter minutes Andy had the device working like a newly trained pup and put the fault down to corroded connections on the non-tinned cable which he said looked as if it had been there for years. He recommended new tinned electrical cable to ensure the unit continues its reliable service.
Two days later he was back and fitting the cable through all Zoonie’s starboard side lockers from the lazarette to the chart table control box. So that was a relief as we hadn’t expected to be able to fix it in Vanuatu.
We had a rendezvous arranged with Steph of the Sharm Foundation and Rod her husband to hand over the boxes of school uniforms. When I asked her which school they were going to I felt a little foolish as they were bound for Shirley’s school at Navrovorovo and we could have left them there. However we weren’t sure when we were discussing this with Customs in Luganville if we would be going there and as Steph suggested they needed to be cleared through Customs we brought them on down to Port Vila.
Never mind, as we were on our way back from the Customs Office here Steph had another phone call about a yacht having just arrived with the rest of the consignment from Whangarei and we correctly guessed it would be Ken and Beth on Eagles Wings, so it was lovely to see them again for a chat and catchup.
Rod told us about Cyclone Pam that hit the area on March 13th 2015 with winds that reached 340km/hr. Sixteen people died in Vanuatu two of whom were yachties who returned to their vessel. Many yachts were sunk on their moorings while others washed up on top of eachother on the shore. Altogether 65 yachts and numerous fishing boats and ferries had to be re-floated by the Australian Army and Navy for the harbour to be used again.
Steph is from a legal background and has a strong sense of giving. She has used her influence to head many post cyclone projects to get children back to school and enjoying the lifelong benefits of a good education.
Feeling lighter having passed on the boxes we went to the big 24/7 fruit and veg market to stock up on local organic veggies and fruit and noticed, for the first time, a canteen in the same building with numerous kitchens around the walls providing small, medium or large meals for around 500vu (£3.57). An opportunity not to be missed we thought. So we sat amidst the friendly locals Rob with his beef and me with some fish and tucked in, a tasty meal designed to fill and satisfy. A forester came and sat by Rob,
“So you’re off a cruise liner are you?” He asked and then answered his own question with,
“No you look too healthy for that and you certainly wouldn’t be eating in here!” We chatted about trees and how sandalwood trees are a 25 year project and the ones grown now still go to China to satisfy the incense stick industry.
Later we sat in the cockpit watching all the comings and goings to the island resort next to us. It was good to see Rob contentedly reading his latest book while we listened to the BBC World Service. By way of some exercise we went ashore to find the museum, up past the anonymous Parliament Building down some side roads with high fenced homes and offices some nicely decorated walls and gates suggesting the comfortable wealth of the people hiding within.
There are many empty buildings around, a red block of legal offices overlooking the water, a nice looking motel all overgrown and padlocked, failed businesses and wasted structures. We found the big Bon Marche supermarket full with French goods and items and brands you would see anywhere and vowed to return mitt trolley.
On our way back we called into World Car Rentals and booked a car for the 12th and 13th of the month because that is the next available date to book the smallest car and to give us a good length of time to look forward and plan.
The next day was a Sunday and it rained all day so I worked on a blog, cleaned the shower tray and then started reading a book Bron had given us, ‘There’s a Bear in There and he wants Swedish’ by Merridy Eastman, a factual tale about an out of work actress in Sydney who spends a year working the weekend night shift as a receptionist in a brothel in Redfern. Great book sympathetically and humorously written.
Our present evening viewing from 7.00pm to 8.00pm ish (which will end in two days) is two episodes of The United States of Tara about a Kansas housewife who has numerous personalities. Gradually the story is working towards the cause of her personality split and she is supported by her two children and gorgeous landscape gardener husband.