Chilling out / Sweating it up in Vanuatu
Port Vila Travel Blog› entry 50 of 89 › view all entries
"What is Vanuatu?" and "Where is Vanuatu?" are two questions I get asked when I say Iâ€™ve been to Vanuatu. To be honest with you, Iâ€™m still not quite sure what Vanuatu is (or what it means) other than that it is a nation of islands, formerly colonized by the French. They speak Bislama (a form of pidgin English, though not intelligible like Hawaii pidgin), English, and French, and spend Vatu. Even if I donâ€™t get the chance to study a place in-depth (unless you count reading the airplane magazine blurb en route), language and currency are two facts I always pick up real fast. Currency isnâ€™t even really one because Iâ€™ve stopped trying to convert things back into the sinking dollar / the division can be too unwieldy.
[This section was written while I was in Vanuatu. Sorry for the tense change.]
Hideaway Island only has one hotel / resort, the aptly named Hideaway Island Resort. It's just really chill and quiet and everyone knows your name. They also upgraded me to a single...I think because the resort was so quiet. Sometimes I look around and think I should be lonely because I'm traveling alone but I actually feel quite fortunate to be traveling around the world on my own. It's oddly empowering, although I always have to lie about my imaginary boyfriend who didn't come traveling with me. Just like in South America, every male (of whatever age) seems to make it his business to know my relationship status. Sometimes, I escalate it to husband and since it's my creation, I just start making shit up like he's a student, investment banker, ultimate fighter, professional acrobat.
If Vanuatu is any indication of my level of comfort with dark people (Melanesians look African to me), I'm in for quite a shocker when I go to Africa. I think it's easy to say you're not racist or prejudice when you're not confronted by a whole population of darker-skinned people but I realize how much more guarded and apprehensive I am around Melanesians, even if they're all really nice and always wave and smile at you. When we were touring around the island, we passed a few pickup trucks with Melanesians standing in the back and I half-expected them to be carrying machine guns and rifles like on every movie set in Africa.
Speaking of diving, I managed to get in a few amazing and no-hassle dives on my first day (a matter of walking 100m to the dive shop on the beach and gearing up and jumping on a 5-minute boat ride). Very different from the hassle of the Yongala dives in Northern Queensland, where I had to take a plane, a Greyhound, a 4x4, and hitch a ride back to Townsville).
I also visited Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, which is really just a 1km busy street with garish resorts smattered about. There was a cool fruit and vegetable market with things I've never seen before and like I am apt to do, tried as many foreign-looking things as possible (which I quickly sped-read about in the Lonely Planet at the airport).
Two themes for the rest of my Australasia travels emerged while in Vanuatu:
1) Crazy driving and the lack of seatbelts in the backseats
2) Crazily ravenous mosquitos that all wanted a little piece of sweet Nicole (why didn't I buy insect repellent earlier?)