The big smoke!
03 June 2014 | Port Vila, Efate
Barbara/ Hot and sunny
A huge thank you to Heather and Mike, who have been updating our blog for our passage and first couple of weeks here in Vanuatu. We have a satellite system, but are limited to short emails only, so Heather and Mike have been taking the contents and posting them for us! We had hoped to get a sim card for our phone further south, but the system is, in the local language, Bislama, “bugarup”…so we have waited until we arrived on the island of Efate, in the capital city, Port Vila. It is strange to be in the city, with buses, taxis and the general hustle and bustle, but a nice change. We are taking advantage of the stunning market – more fresh produce than you can dream of, French influenced bakers and butchers and various eating places, from the back of the market, to waterside restaurants.
Our lunch yesterday was at the market. There are lots of people selling plates of food at an assortment of tables. We picked one at random and enjoyed stir-fried beef and veg with rice for 400 Vatu (about $4). Simon started to eat and noted the temperature of the meal was salmonella perfect, but we really enjoyed it with no ill effects to report. The bus system is great…there are no timetables or routes, but any van whose registration plate begins with a B is a bus. You just flag them down, tell them where you want to go, and hope that others on the bus are heading roughly in the same place! The other day we got one, and the driver made everyone who was on, get off and wait (with all their baggage), while he took us back to the boat!! All for 150 Vatu per trip.
Each day has its own routine…get up (around 6.30am), have breakfast and tune into Vanuatu Net on the radio. Then, chores and fixing things – never ending – then coffee and baguette, then row ashore, get some fruit and veg and more bread, have lunch (maybe back on board), snooze (Vanuatu has adopted the continental siesta), more boaty things, row ashore for a shower and then catch up with the other yachties at Happy Hour at the Waterfront Bar (4pm -6pm). Back on the boat, cook some dinner and generally asleep around 9! It is dark not long after 5pm, so the evenings are long!
On Monday we went on a mini-bus tour with some other yachties that we have shared anchorages with since Opua. It was something we would never normally do…but was great fun. We stopped and swam at the Blue Lagoon, where the men regained their youth on a large rope swing. Then on to the WW2 “museum”, a small shed packed full of stuff and a highly entertaining talk by a young man who’s grandfather collected memorabilia, mostly coke bottles. Well worth 200 Vatus. Then we had lunch at the Wahoo Resturant, visited the Tanna coffee factory a couple of beaches and then back.
We finally cleared customs and immigration yesterday…a very laid back process (seeing as we had already been here 3 days). All you need is a load of paperwork (not a computer in sight) and a big wad of cash and a smile. The customs officer, Simon, comes to the boat. He was really lovely and helped teach us some more Bislama. I’m still struggling with the fact that Katie and Angus are our ‘pikanini’!
Heading off now to visit another butcher and delicatessen and then, suddenly it will be showers and Happy Hour again. I will pick up my laundry, which is washed, dried in the sun and folded. It is lovely not to have to use my buckets for a while!