My last stop of a 5 day island hop was to the island nation of Vanuatu. All I knew of Vanuatu is what I had seen on an episode of An Idiot Abroad. In the episode, the titular “Idiot”, Karl Pilkington, finds himself doing a bucket list item of staying on a deserted island. Since I was on the main island it was not deserted at all. In fact it was busier than I suspected an island of that size could be.
There were several anxious drivers waiting for lost people like myself to take me wherever we were staying. Luckily for me, the money matters had been 100% sorted by now and my card worked fine at their ATM. The drivers here would only take the local currency and the exchange rate was something ridiculous like 1,000 VUV being worth around $8. My ride cost me 2,000 VUV which was a bargain to not have to think about the details.
Arriving at my AirBnB it occurred how early I was when I saw the sign on the front that effectively read “Open at noon” and it was about 10:15. The gate was open, however, and I went and sat near the beach and waited on the owner to show for the day. When I heard some activity near the main dining area/bar, I went and introduced myself and was greeted by a warm Australian man.
Turns out that Vanuatu was a off-season haven of sorts for lots of expat Australian and New Zealand people. What ensued was one of the most social evenings I experienced on this entire trip. Tonight was a big rugby match night for the expat crowd and I learned enough about the sport by the end of the night to finally be able to follow it. Prior to this I honestly just assumed it was a reason for guys to huddle up and beat the piss out of each other. That made it as valuable as any sport in my eyes, but it turns out to have more nuances that I was ever aware of. It was good to know that even on the other side of the world, people can get worked into a frenzy over their supported team. Our similarities really are numerous and entertaining.
By the end of the evening, or really, the start of the morning, the host and I were both well and truly drunk. Fortunately in the more sober hours of the night, I had asked for him to arrange a ride to the airport for me. Another early morning was fast approaching and despite the lack of hours I had to rest, I popped up the moment my alarm started to sound. Honestly I believe I might have still been a little drunk but someone else was driving so that’s what matters. Safety first kids.
This morning, the rain was just pissing down but it felt refreshing so I stood in it, looked up and smiled. By the time my ride arrived I was pretty well soaked but felt fine. After a quick ride I found myself standing in the queue for customs, which hadn’t even opened yet. Unlike most major airports in the States, this one had operating hours. Since there were only 3 or 4 flights the entire day, however, I was positive I would not miss this one.
After clearing customs I look over to see a convenience store of sorts and grab myself some caffeine and notice they also sell Tusker OP, the beer I had been drinking the night before. “Sure, what the hell…” I thought to myself and grabbed one. A little breakfast before the flight. Since that one went down without notice I found myself back at the counter and the woman just laughed and said “Thirsty?” to which I joined her in laughter and said “That’s why I’ll be getting two this time.”
The island itself and locals brought my mind back to Jamaica. And the language was a similar one as well. Sort of a language you could understand based solely on contextual clues and the proximity to words in English. Oh and island time is a real thing here. Not as real as it was in Tonga but it was definitely a similar “Fuck it, there’s time.” pace. That alone is worth the price of admission in the normal GO GO GO world.
If I have more time to spare for Vanuatu I will get lost a little more but this round was a placeholder. Sad if it was a one-off but life is too fleeting as is.
Back to Australia now for day of recovery before my flight(s) home.