October 18, 2011

Vanuatu Impressions

the story of the yam-in sand
It is hard not to be intrigued by a country where men wrap their penises in a ribbon. Seriously—if I knew nothing else about Vanuatu—that alone might have been enough to get me here.

But I did know a bit more—I knew that because of the hundreds of languages spoken across the scattering of islands that the common language here is Bislama—a form of Pidgin that is way more fun to learn than French. And I knew there were volcanoes and waterfalls and amazing diving. And I knew about the dugongs and the megapodes—birds that lay their eggs in hot volcanic sand and then leave the eggs and chicks to fend for themselves.

But even knowing all of this I still had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that Port Villa is easily the prettiest, and most surprisingly, most modern feeling city in the South Pacific. I had no idea that the people, who seem really shy and reserved after Fiji, would be so sweet. I had no idea I would once again fall head over heals for a country (they grow coffee here!!)—and we’ve barely started.

 Port Vila is an easy city to hang out in—there’s lots to do and learn (we spent the morning at the excellent cultural centre), great shopping (yesterday we spent the day exploring the two markets (omg—raspberries!!), the grocery stores and the duty free shops), and a gorgeous landscape.

  The highlight of our stay here was our visit to Mele Cascades—pretty much the loveliest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. You start your visit by hiking through gardens—then the trail winds up through the cascades themselves. At the top you are rewarded by dozens of swimming holes—each linked to the next by a short series of falls.
Maia making her way into a cave behind the falls
 Maia called it the best water park ever.
Evan and I found the massage falls—which, when you sit under them provide a thundering shoulder rub.
the 'trail'
 Our plan is to head out tomorrow for the outer islands. Thanks to a lovely connection we made with a local couple (who served us a truly memorable dinner) we have introductions to several villages which we’ll stop in at as we make our way up to Santos.
dinner with Brenda and Bill
 If the rest of Vanuatu even comes close to our first few days—it’ll be amazing.
I'll let you know what the wrappers are like...


Diane, Evan and Maia said...

For those fllowing in our wake--the Mele Cascades are about 15 minutes out of Port Vila by bus (400 vat each way). The entry fee is a bit steep ($1500) but so worth it. The village does an amazing job of maintaining the trails and keeping the gardens gorgeous. Just be sure not to go on cruise ship day...

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

$15.00 not 1500