So, even though we are both ready to settle down, we decide to fly first to Vanuatu because it’s close and convenient. It’s funny, because there’s something in me that craves travel and new places so much that it even trumps my exhaustion and need to settle down. So we find ourselves in yet a new country but limit it to just five nights. From here we will go to Auckland to set up shop for awhile.
So—we arrive in Port Vila at 7:30 in the morning. Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu, which is a small country of 250,000 people, located in the middle of the South Pacific. It looks a lot like Fiji, though the people look a little different. They resemble East Africans more than the West African look they had in Fiji, and are a bit shorter than the mighty Fijians we had met. Mark also notices that there are quite a few men that closely resemble Lebron James (just not as tall), so maybe Lebron has Vanuatuan heritage?
We step outside the airport and look for a taxi. Some men ask us where we are going and we tell them our hotel, and they say, “We’ll take you. I think all the taxis are gone.” So nice of them. They drive us into town and tell us a little about Vanuatu. We stop at a gas station and they speak bislama, a pidgeon English which is very interesting to me. We learn a few words from the ads, like “Me Wantem Tusker.” (I want a Tusker Beer!). Funny!
We stay at the Grand Casino Hotel, which is modern and lovely and perched on the beautiful harbor.
We dive at Tranquility Island one day and both dives are very nice. The soft coral isn’t as vibrant as Taveuni, but the visibility is great and we even see a Hawksbill turtle, which I love. At lunch they take us to the Turtle Sanctuary, where they keep turtle babies for 15 months before releasing them, to help increase their odds of their survival. They say their survival rate goes from 1% to 40% by letting them grow a little bigger before they swim out to sea.
I am a bit under the weather for most of the week due to an infection on my foot which starts to get worse and worse so that I can barely walk. This majorly puts a damper on the visit. Mainly I mope around the hotel and Mark works out like a maniac, enjoying the hotel gym. But overall we like the people and the vibe in Port Vila. It’s a walkable town with cute bars and restaurants and the harbor is clean and turquoise blue. Still third world here, but this place comes a lot closer to a livable beach town.
Here are a few more underwater videos from Vanuatu. Did I mention there was an earthquake while we were diving? We didn’t “feel” it but we heard a rumbling sound. Pretty unique!