After our very relaxing day yesterday, we went for a bit more activity today. We were picked up at 8:30 by Adrian and Nigel our local driver and guide and set off for the wilds of Vanuatu.
We started by dealing with some chores in Port Vila. The town is small and very low-rise with a core of only a few shopping streets and then rambling suburbs that descend quickly into villages or resort areas. It’s not pretty so we didn’t linger after changing some money, getting a SIM card, and buying a picnic lunch.
It’s interesting to contemplate that all of the resorts are owned by Australians and New Zealanders and all of the shops are owned by expat Chinese. The Chinese embassy which is under construction is bigger than the Vanuatan parliament. Everywhere we have been recently Chinese expats have controlled major chunks of the economy – in many ways it’s empire building with a cash-register instead of a battleship.
As we drove Nigel gave us the lowdown on Kava, which he and Adrian had obviously spent a great deal of time sampling. Nigel being a modern sort of guy won’t drink the stuff unless he’s chewed it himself or it’s made with a mincer. Adrian is less picky. Both of them showed us the evidence of their heavy Kava use – callouses on their hands from too much grinding the root.
Our first stop was the lovely Melee Cascades. A pleasant walk through the jungle takes you alongside, and through, a series of cascades with astonishingly clear water. Finally you come to a waterfall dropping 20 metres or so down into a small pool. We got lucky and were the only people there so had a lovely tie swimming through the waterfall and sliding around.
After changing we drove on with Adrian and Nigel telling us about the island. It turns out that Adrian’s grandfather’s brother was the man who performed the last cannibal killing, and eating, in the islands. He went out, in 1969, and shot a member of another tribe, calmly cooked him in the meeting-house while the rest of the tribe was at church, and then ate him before giving himself up to the authorities.
The Blue Lagoon swimming hole gets its name from the beautifully coloured water as sunlight reflects off the pristine white sand that makes up the lagoon bottom. While it does look lovely, we visited primarily because it’s a great swimming hole with rope swings. We all had a ball swinging and jumping into the water – again, and again, and again. Afterwards, our picnic lunch went down a treat by the waterside.
We drove back to more stories about life in Vanuatu – for example, it now costs at least $800 to buy a wife – while the two locals flailed wildly at the flies and mosquitos in the front of the van and laughed hysterically. Kava with their lunch perhaps.