“I do” she said, with the breeze billowing through her hair …

View from Tamanu on the Beach

We spent Easter Sunday mostly hanging out at A Room With a View, but also went for a walk around town. The next day we would make our way to White Sands Beach where Chloe and Trevor would be getting married on the Tuesday. On Monday we called Cheryl (the bride’s mum) who organised someone from the resort to pick us up. In no time at all, much less than we thought actually, we were at Tamanu on the Beach chatting to Chloe, Cheryl and Paige, Chloe’s sister. If I may say so myself, it was a pretty spectacular resort, and the outdoor dining area and accommodation were all right on the sea.  Needless to say, the views was spectacular, and the view like something directly out of a movie; iridescent white sand, waving palm trees and turquoise water. Tomorrow, the wedding would be held on the beach. Hugs all around and then we hung around and chatted for a while before Cheryl took Alex and I to our accommodation.

With Shelley, another guest

The guests were staying in a range of places from Tamanu on the Beach itself, to various places in town as well as close by.  Alex and I were staying in some beautiful apartments very close to in Tamanu with Cheryl and other friends and family.  What a gorgeous place; very open, yet very serene and tranquil. It was lovely to spend a day just relaxing and hanging out, as usually when Alex and I travel, it’s fifth gear all the way! I take responsibility for that too! In the afternoon, I went into town with Cheryl and her gorgeous friend Alicia, and bought some groceries as well as some fresh fruit by the roadside.  As we had a car, and we saw places that perhaps public transport would not normally take you, it was interesting to observe how the people really live here in Vanuatu.  They are not ‘poor’ as such, and are subsistence farmers as they live off the land. They are most certainly not rich by our standards, but they mostly have clothes on their bodies, a roof over their heads and food in their mouths.  As we zipped around, I observed … as I love to do.

Chloe with Paige and cousins Jess and Kate, gettin’ ready …

The night before the wedding was spent just hanging around and chilling, and getting to know the people who were staying in the same apartments that we were; all really lovely people. Early Tuesday morning we were woken by lightning, thunder and an alluvial downpour! I know that Vanuatu is in the tropics and that it was the wet and humid season, but … OMG, I thought the wedding may just end up being a live rendition of Singin’ in the Rain! Having said all of this, apparently an alluvial downpour followed by rays of sunshine were not an uncommon occurrence. Fingers crossed!

Cheryl gives Chloe away

Alex had volunteered to take some casual photos of the wedding throughout the day, so he was up bright and early and snapping the bride and her bridesmaids before they’d even began to get ready. If I may so myself, he did manage some pretty spectacular shots. Most of us started to get ready after lunch as it was to be a late afternoon wedding.  Putting on makeup in the humidity was no easy feat.  Thank goodness for air-con! As I am not really a drinker, I offered to be the taxi-driver between our accommodation and the venue. By 3.00pm, everybody was down by the sea and ready. The rain had disappeared, the sky cleared up and the sun was bathing us in its (hot and humid!) rays. Yes!

Married!

Everybody mingled, chatted, introduced themselves to persons unknown, had a drink, snacked on delicious hors d’oeuvres …and waited for the bride. It was a nice little gathering of some 25 people or so, and Alex and I felt honoured to have been invited. The time had come … Trevor and his groomsmen had waited patiently on the beach (decked out in their snazzy suits), and we all turned around to see the stunning Chloe walking towards him, being given away by her equally gorgeous mother. I had a lump in my throat; it was a very special moment. Cheryl, I am sure that I was not the only one who was proud of you on this day, you made everyone proud, and least of all your Chloe! The ceremony was picture-perfect and idyllic … “I do” she said, with the breeze billowing through her hair.

Lambada time!

The official photographer took a few more pictures on the beach, and then we were all treated to a lovely sit down dinner, in the open restaurant overlooking the sea, of course. Then … it was party time! What a night! Some of us danced all night, including the lambada. Getting too old for that?  Hey, I kept up with the best of them! The next day I felt like I’d been hit by a bus, which was much more likely to have been the result of hours of non-stop dancing than lambada-ing. I’ve still got what it takes!  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. It was a really fun night, but like all good things, they must come to an end. And so, the taxi-driver began her ferrying the revellers back to their accommodation. A few short trips and everyone was ‘at home’. With memories of a great day and night, it was time to go to bed!

Island views

The next day Alex and I took the opportunity to go around the island with Cheryl and Alicia in their hire car.  The idea was that we would then be dropped off in Port Vila at the end of the day. We all had a leisurely breakfast and then took off some time after lunch.  We spent a relaxing afternoon going around the island. It only takes two hours if you don’t stop, so with a few stops here and there, it took us around four hours. Speaking of stops, in Vanuatu, mostly everything is owned by the people and not the government which means even looking at a beach costs you money. We were still able to get some fantastic views of both Efate (the island we were on) and the several outlying islands. It was just after 6.00pm on the Wednesday night that we were dropped off at our ‘home’ in Port Vila, A Room With a View. Justine took us to ‘our’ room and offered us a cup of Tanna coffee.  How we were going to miss this place! As we sipped our coffee, we chatted about how we would spend our last three days.

Local lady

We were thinking of going to visit the island of Tanna, one of the more southern islands, which is famous for Mt Yasur, said to be the world’s most accessible active volcano. Our enquiries were delayed for a day due to a nasty migraine and when we did finally enquire at the local Air Vanuatu office … it put a whole new spin on island time! Astoundingly slow is an understatement! We did finally get some answers in the way of when flights would be available, but unfortunately the next available one would not see us get back to Port Vila on time to fly back home. Pass!

Mele Cascades

And so our last days were spent visiting the famous Mele Cascades and the Tanna Coffee Factory.
The cascades were only a short local bus trip away, and as we arrived it was pouring.  In fact, it was raining so hard that we had to wait for half an hour before entering. After baulking at the $25.00 entrance fee (there’s just something about paying for nature and loos that does the head in of the average Aussie!), we made our way to several pools of stunningly clear aquamarine water that have formed beneath a 35 metre waterfall.  The walk to get there was beautiful, as was the ‘final destination’.  Alex went for a swim, but I passed, and contently observed. It was raining on and off and just as we made it back down , the alluvial downpour began once again, so we had no option but to wait a couple of hours before moving on. So we sat, observed and chatted. Time to move on!

Hideaway Island, near Tanna Coffee Factory

Once the rain stopped we started to walk towards the Tanna Coffee Factory, which we were told was only ‘down the road’.  The freaks were back!  As is often the case we were the only non-locals walking.  A great people-watching exercise, we chatted to and observed the locals in their natural habitat, as opposed to how they ‘needed to act’ for tourists.  I love this stuff! I always jokingly say that I was a social anthropologist in  a past life … maybe I will study it yet in this one! It was probably about a half an hour walk and at some point we turned into the aptly named Devil’s Point Road, a somewhat lonely road that snaked along the coastline and awarded us with some spectacular views of the outlying islands.

Nuvi makes a nice, strong coffee, Tanna Coffee Factory

I was beginning to think we were not ever going to make it, when we suddenly stumbled upon the sign to the entrance.  It most definitely had a plantation feel about it and walking up to the main building felt a bit like I was walking along the yellow brick road. The small roastery and cafe operate out of a 1903 Catholic Church.  It had a very cosy feel about it and Leitau showed us around and explained how ‘it was all done’.  A small enterprise indeed, the Arabica coffee comes from the island of Tanna, which has perfect coffee growing conditions. Leitau’s lovely wife Nuvi, made us a couple of espressos, the first was a medium roast and the second dark. We were totally impressed! Italians move over! We bought a big bag of coffee beans (medium or dark? medium or dark? dark!) and started to walk home. Again, the walk made for some pleasant sightseeing and some great observations. We noticed people coming out and hanging up lamps outside their properties. We were later told that this is a sign to say that the nakmal, or traditional meeting place, is open for kava drinking. What is kava? Is it a drug? The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anaesthetic properties and is supposed to relax without disrupting mental clarity.  Perhaps … but that muddy taste and numbness of the mouth that I had experienced in just one sip at the Melanesian feast was enough for me.

Lit lamp outside a Nakmal

As it began to grow darker, Alex and I jumped on a local bus and made the short ride back to Port Vila. It had been a big day and we were exhausted. Second last night in Port Vila so we decided to go for a meal at Chantilly’s. The food really was exquisite and Alex went all out with a ceviche dish followed by a lobster pasta. Our last day was spent hanging around and going into town (yet again). We ‘popped into’ a downtown hotel to escape the humidity; you know, just strolled in like we were staying there, and made ourselves comfortable on the guest couches.  Yep, I know, more front that Myers! As it works out, Cheryl and Paige were staying there too! “What are you doing here?”, Cheryl exclaimed as she walked towards us.  What can I say … escaping the humidity … as you do!

Last brekkie at A Room with a View

And so, this trip was coming to a close. We had an early morning flight and the lovely Justine said that she would drive us to the airport. She had really spoiled us. Packing has become second nature to Alex and I (as has waking up to get to and from places at ridiculous hours!) but we got ourselves organised the night before. We thanked Justine as she dropped us off; it’s people like her that always make our trips that extra bit special. Cheryl and Paige were already at the airport when we arrived, as they were on the same flight as us. It was all rather relaxed; Port Vila airport is no LAX! It seemed that as suddenly as we had arrived, it was time to depart!

Goodbye Vanuatu!  Thanks for some great experiences and adventures. I would like to say “till we meet again” but there are still so many places that I want to visit!

Ombi

“Love is union with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self”. – Erich Fromm

Love this shot of Chloe and mum Cheryl!

Dedication: This one’s for two people, and in no specific order. Cheryl, you are a remarkable mother and friend! I was so touched to watch you walk your gorgeous daughter down the (sandy) aisle. It was the most befitting act and you did it with love and integrity. Chloe, you were the most gorgeous bride. When I met you as an absolutely beautiful six month-year-old baby, I never thought I would be attending your wedding in Vanuatu! You looked stunning and you surrounded yourself by those who really love you. Well done! We were honoured to be part of your special day! You know you can always count on Alex and I.

Special mention to both Paige (Chloe’s sister) and Trevor (her husband) – we love you too!

Local kids
Island cemetery
Perspective … bamboo, Mele Cascades

Alex, Mele Cascades
Tanna Coffee factory
Entering the Tanna Coffee Factory
Tanna Coffee 
Tanna Coffee Roastery … one machine affair!

Touring Efate
Slow Down Vanuatu style!
Mele Cascades
Mele Cascades

Vanuatu plant life
Library, Port Vila
That’s what I call an avo!
Mele Cascades
Cheryl and Alicia
A brilliant day comes to a close

Time to party, Peter and Alex

Janine and her girls
Done and dusted … married!

With Paige

Some of the guests
L to R: Taryn, Kayne and Shanel
With the bride and groom

Chloe ready to go …
Almost there
Chloe … getting ready
Getting ready to say “I do”

About to say “I do” …
Wedding on Tamanu on the Beach

The spot where they would say “I do”
Ready to go … Trevor and the boys
Alex and Trev, day before the big day!
Just outside our accommodation near Tamanu

View from our accom. near Tamanu
Chloe and the girls about to get ready for the big day!
L to R: Groomsmen Peter and Aaron with Trevor, the groom

Island Livin’

Vanuatu, here we come

Last year, in October to be exact, we had been asked to ‘save the date’ for a wedding in Easter in April 2013 … in Vanuatu! Vanuatu was voted ‘happiest country in the world’ in 2006, by the way. A very special friend and a young lady I had known since she was only six months old (yep, that makes me feel old!) asked Alex and I to attend her wedding.  Usually quick to say yes, we had already booked over five weeks to the States and Ecuador (you may recall that we would take my Dad to meet Alex’s family), so I wasn’t sure how feasible or possible that was going to be. There were ‘things’ happening with my work (nothing bad), and as it worked out, we were going to be able to go.

Port Vila fruit and veggie market

In true Ombi and Alex style, the instant we realised that it was going to be possible (only days before the RSVP date of course) to attend, we were on the computer trying to book a ticket.  Thanks to Alex’s good nous we were able to pick up two tickets using our frequent flyer points.  Bonus! A phone call to Chloe, the bride-to-be … “Guess who’s coming to your wedding!” She was stoked, needless, to say.  And so the next journey was about to begin!

Cruisin’ the streets of Port Vila

We had booked the flight, so all we really needed to do was book the first couple of nights in Port Vila, the capital, where we would be arriving. No need to look beyond more than a couple of days, it would all pan out … as it usually did. We ended up booking a place called A Room With a View for our first few nights in Port Vila, and we figured that we would take it from there. There’s nothing that we like more than an adventure or wingin’ it! As we did our homework, we realised that Vanuatu was not going to be as cheap as we thought it would be.  Although still classed as third world country, it is an isolated group of 83 Pacific islands, and thus many things are neither cheap nor plentiful.

Vanuatu flag

The flight over was approximately four hours; short and comfortable, as opposed to our usually much longer flights to South America, which are long and sometimes arduous. We got off the plane in Port Vila, and we had to walk across the tarmac to the airport and customs.  What a tiny airport compared to Melbourne and a microbe compared to the likes of LA and Miami. As we descended the steps onto the tarmac, we were greeted by a wave of tropical heat! Ahhhhhh, how I love this! I looked around and half expected to seeTattoo calling out “Da plane, da plane” as he did on Fantasy Island.  I was certainly looking forward to my next adventure!

Brekkie at A Room with a View

We made our way to our hotel, which was actually very close by.  The taxis were charging their usual overpriced ‘airport to centre’ rates, but we caught a local bus.  Just need to ask the right people the right questions. In no time at all, we were sitting on the gorgeous balcony of A Room With a View, overlooking the Port Vila Bay. Our host was the most gorgeous Justine, originally from Korea. As we sat, relaxed and took in the breathtaking harbour, Justine offered us a cup of Tanna coffee. The coffee is grown on the volcanic island of Tanna, and is a really good drop. With Justine offering us this coffee on a regular basis, how could we not like where we staying?  Great weather, great views, great coffee and a great host.  We would come back to this place several times in our two week stay, and Justine would end up holding a special place in our hearts.

Cruise ship central, Port Vila

As the wedding was in the second half of our two week stay, we had a bit of time beforehand to explore.  Our first couple of days were spent walking around Port Vila and taking in the local sights.  One of our first stops was the local outdoor fruit and veggie market, a ten minute walk from the hotel. It was all hustle and bustle, with the locals selling everything from fried taro chips to avocados to laplap (their national dish, made from grated cassava). I have often said that the marketplace is the heart of a nation, a great place to people watch and an excellent place to get an idea of how people live.  Port Vila is not that big and is right on the bay, where some 200 cruise ships enter yearly.  Now, I am not a maths super-whiz, but that works out to a cruise ship at least every other day, and sometimes two days in a row. It’s amazing to watch the little town of Port Vila morph on ship days … prices go up and yes, the ni-Vans or ni-Vanuatu (this is what the people of Vanuatu are called) go for broke, attempting to extract the maximum from its visitors. It’s not the fault of the locals that their one-day-stop-at-a-port-visitors have not done their homework!  For the rest of us that have, these are not the days to shop!  Oh, and we saw some seriously and inappropriately dressed people.  Do your homework kids!  If the locals aren’t traipsing the streets in bikini tops and micro minis, then neither should you!

Port Vila fruit and veggie market

Efate is the island of which Port Vila is the capital. We spent our first few days just chilling out and taking it all in. Mornings were laid back and lazy.  Every morning we would wake up to the most amazing breakfast … bread, croissants, fresh tropical fruit, eggs, avocados, an array of jams and spreads (including vegemite!) and coffee, of course.  We would kick back and eat as we overlooked the bay.  By mid-morning we were usually ready for a stroll. As Port Vila is on the waterfront, most of the action is in a pretty small space; garden markets, souvenir stands selling bright and busy clothing, waterfront cafes and restaurants and supermarkets.  The supermarkets were interesting, to say the least. A mish-mash of products, many things were expensive because they were imported, and other things were just of very average quality. Certainly no comparison to the over-stocked, over-the-top number of product lines we have in the western world. Stores are scarce outside of Port Vila, as most people live off their own garden produce. Food for thought most certainly.

Hangin’ out with the locals, Port Vila

We also enjoyed a yummy meal whilst watching a movie on an open outdoor screen at Nambawan Cafe on a couple of occasions … overlooking the bay, of course. On another occasion we went for a walk, and ended up on some beach chatting to a couple of ‘locals’ (originally from the volcanic island of Tanna, but in Port Vila for work). We also attended a ‘traditional’ Melanesian Feast at Coconut Palms Resort. It was a fun night where we got to try the local food, drink kava, listen to custom stories, watch some locals dancing, see a live cooking display and listen to a local string band. Kava is called the peace drug. Its hallucinogenic properties are supposed to make
your mind happy and you are supposed to feel clever?! Many ni-Vans wouldn’t consider a day complete without a couple of ‘shells’ of the stuff.  I must say, one sip of the muddy tasting concoction (made from the roots of a plant) was all I needed. Yuk!

On Pele Island

Vanuatu has three official languages; English, French and Bislama, which is a creole language derived from English. In addition, however, there are over one hundred local languages spread out over the archipelago. This makes for some colourful listening. The ni-Vans are also generally a very happy people, and if not greeted with a hello, you will most certainly get at the least a (very!) white-toothed smile. It made for good times and generally feeling happy.

Just outside our bungalow, Pele Island

Chloe and Trevor’s wedding was on Easter Tuesday, so we still had a week or so to fill in.  What to do?  We decided that we would visit a couple of islands around Efate.  We decided that our first stop would be Pele. Pele is only seven kilometres off the northern coast of Efate.  Consider that it only take a couple of hours to drive around the island of Efate and it really isn’t that far. A small island fringed by reefs sounded very exciting. We liked the idea of going somewhere where most people didn’t!  We knew it was going to be an adventure as soon as we jumped into the small speedboat.  Breeze ripping through our hair, mainland getting smaller, island getting bigger, we were there in no time at all.  I felt like I was in a James Bond movie; out we stepped onto a palm-fringed beach with sparkling white sand and turquoise water. The hotels? The shops? The restaurants?  None of the above existed. There were a couple of huts owned by the locals, so we walked around until we found one that we liked.  We were helped by a lovely guy called Alex who had been on the speedboat across with us.  What was in it for him?  Nothing.  He just wanted to help. We ended up on the other side of the island, which had less reefs, more wind, and a bit more character as it was more isolated (if that’s possible on an already small and isolated island).  Having said that, it was a great place to chill out and observe how the locals live.

Our bungalow, Pele Island

Upon finally choosing our ‘hut of choice’ we were greeted by the owner and his wife. They explained that they would bring us our meals three times a day.  I explained that I was vegetarian and they seemed fine with that.  We were also told that there was no electricity and so were given lamps. No fridges, no freezers, no TVs, but yes the odd mobile phone, this is how these people live. Oh, and we had a somewhat modern western toilet, which had been built outside for guests.  Their toilets aren’t so modern! If you can’t live without your mod-cons, this is not the place for you. In fact if you can’t live without your mod-cons, the resorts of Port Vila and Espiritu Santu (another island, which we did not visit) are probably the only places in Vanuatu that you could cope with. Having said that, I cannot express the feeling of being in a place that you feel that you have totally to yourself! I watched the world and the people go by and I loved it! Cooking, washing, surfing, ploughing the land, children playing on the beach … they seemed to have so little by our standards, yet they exuded a happiness which was extraordinary. I had a chat to some kids about what food they liked … Do you like chicken? Yes!  Do you like fruit? Yes! Do you like cassava? Yes! Do you like vegetables? Yes!  What a far cry from our kids who won’t eat this, that or the other and are given special and separate meals by their parents! By who’s standards do we judge quality of life?

Our Pele Island family

We spent three nights and four days in Pele, and the only other foreigners we saw were Peter and Gabriela, who were staying in the hut next to us. A lovely Dutch/Costa Rican couple living and working in Australia, they too were here on holiday. We would often chat about the meaning of life over our meals together. Our days were spent swimming, snorkelling, walking around the island and playing with the kids on the beach. We also happened to be on the island for Easter. The ni-Vans are generally quite religious; they follow a number of Christian religions.  No Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs here; on the island it was all about the ministry and preaching the word of God. Two different churches close to where we were staying set up tents and children from ‘the mainland’ (aka Port Vila) came across for a few days. They were given prayers and sermons, but there were also games, plays and dancing. We attended some of the activities; I am the ultimate people-watcher!

Time to leave Pele Island

Time to move on.  Where to next?  We wanted to fit in another island before the wedding, but somewhere that would not be too far … just in case. It’s all a bit ad-hoc here, so a missed ferry could easily equate to a missed wedding! We decided on Moso …as you do! How to get there?  Well, Gabriela and Peter were making their way back to the mainland, so we decided to go part of the way back with them and then wing it … hmm, as ‘we’ do! We said goodbye to our hosts on Pele Island and then made our way to where we would have to catch a small speedboat to the other side; this included a several hundred metre walk in ankle-high water as it was super-low tide.  With backpacks on our backs, we must have looked rather odd, or at the very least, out of place. We were on the other side in no time at all, and I must say that trying to get information on ‘how to get to Moso’ really was not as easy as  I thought. Geez, we could see the small island from the mainland.

Leaving Pele Island

Gabriela and Peter had been picked up by a mini-bus on the other side and we went the short distance with them to Havannah Harbour, ‘assuming’ that from here we would most surely be able to get across to Moso! Well, you know what they say about assuming! The only real information we seemed to be able to get about Moso was that it was home to the more costly Tranquility Island Eco Lodge and whilst it looked great, it was a bit out of the price range we were looking at for for a couple of nights. Anyway the guy who had picked up our friends in the mini van then told us he could drop us off at a ‘jetty’ up the road, and from there we could catch a ferry across.  OK, so our accommodation wasn’t organised, but really … how hard could it be!? As he dropped us off, he pointed down a road through what appeared to be a jungle and said … the wharf is about 200 metres down there!  Alex and I, none the wiser, looked at each other and started to walk down.  Hmm, 200 metres?  Distance and time, we had found, don’t seem to be measured in the same way here in Vanuatu. Island distance and time eat your heart out!

Fishing on Moso Island

Walking, walking, walking … 200 metres … I do not think so!  It was drizzling and we were hot and sweaty … a young boy walked alongside us who kept telling us that it was ‘not long to go’.  We did finally make it to the ‘wharf’ but I can assure you that it was much farther away than the 200 metres we were told it would be.  A small group of people were waiting to go across … we were in a landing in the middle of nowhere, not a nice clean ‘pick me up for Tranquility Resort’ kind of place at all.  We negotiated a price and we were soon on the little boat going across.  Of course we still had no idea what we would be doing and where we would be staying.

Plain boiled sweet potato … yum!?

We did indeed arrive safely at Taseriki Village on Moso Island. Someone spoke to someone who spoke to someone and we were soon greeted by a gentleman who guided us the short distance to some village owned bungalows that we would be able to spend the night in. When the lady who looked after them came back from ‘town’ (aka Port Vila) we would be shown inside. No problem, we could wait.  We thanked him and waited outside, which I must say was lovely and right on the waterfront. Or so, we thought! It was the day before Easter and the village was abuzz with activity and ‘ministry’, and we … thought we could just rock up and find a place to stay. Breathe in, breathe out! The ‘lady’ didn’t seem to be coming back … surprise , surprise, visitors who hadn’t made a booking just weren’t her priority the day before Easter! What can I say, we mostly get it right, but on this occasion we got it very wrong! Waiting, waiting , waiting … the mozzies were swarming around with a vengeance and I was becoming increasingly more uneasy, as I had visions of nowhere to sleep and a million mozzie bites.

Our bed for the night, Philip’s house, Moso

What to do?  Alex went out and tried to get some information on ‘where to from here’? He came back with a lovely man called Philip, who just happened to be the village chief’s brother (every village in Vanuatu has a chief). Philip offered to let us stay in his place. By this stage I was so worried that I splurted out yes please before I could say my surname! What then followed was the antithesis of what you’d read in a text book. His house was not too far away and we offered to give him some money for the night. When we asked him how much, he didn’t appear too comfortable with giving us a price, but we told him that we felt that we should give him at least what we would normally spend in a bungalow. Philip lived with his wife and daughter; his wife worked in Port Vila during the week (coincidentally across the road from where we had been staying) and so was not around and his daughter would stay with an uncle (the Chief) for the night. We felt honoured as Philip and his daughter cleaned their humble little place for us to stay in; a very simple place with very few belongings. How many people in the west would do this?

With Philip, Moso Island

OK bedding organised, we were shown the outdoor ‘shower’ (water was fetched and we would have to pour it over ourselves in scoopfulls) and given two chairs to ‘relax in’ outside in the dark.  Electricity?  No, lamp! OK, most things organised, the last bastion was food!  No take away food shops on this small island! So, I asked if it was possible to have some food prepared for us, as had been done on Pele.  I explained that I was vegetarian. John didn’t seem to have a problem with that, and told us that he would bring us over something soon.  By this stage it was dark, and Alex and I were sitting outside on the chairs, observing the spectacular sky and its constellations. Despite all, these are the events that make up the ‘minties moments’ of our travels. We laughed about our situation, and remarked on how it could only happen to us.  Seriously, this is what sometimes happens when you let life lead you and not the other way around.

Alex and Philip

Our food soon arrived. Philip placed it on the tiny table in his house and told us to enjoy it. He would be back the next morning with breakfast. We thanked him profusely. Alex had fried fish on a bed of rice and I had four big pieces of boiled sweet potato.  Yes, four pieces of boiled sweet potato … no salt, no seasoning, and well … no flavour!  But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  Thankfully, I had some water, because after about piece one and a half, it was having trouble sliding down the gullet. Alex kept asking me if I was OK … all good, it could have been worse! Well, at least I was no longer hungry! Not much else to do, we went to bed soon after.  There would be no extra night on this island; we figured that we’d had about as much adventure on it as we needed.

Breakfast on Moso; Scotch Finger biscuits

After a fairly good night’s sleep we got up and got ourselves organised.  Philip came over with our breakfast; a plate of Scotch Finger biscuits!  Time to hit the mainland. We met his brother, the Chief, who would be the one to take us back.  By late morning we were on a small boat going back. It was Easter Sunday and everything seemed unusually still and serene. Once across, the Chief and another couple of men who had come across on the boat, waited with us by the roadside until we found someone who could take us back to Port Vila. It was lovely of them to wait with us. We would most certainly be leaving Moso with a multitude of memories.

With Philip, waiting to go back to Port Vila

We went straight back to our home in Port Vila , A Room With a View. We were once again greeted by Justine, who made us feel welcome immediately. It ended up being a very lazy Easter Sunday, with lots of Tanna coffee and relaxing on the balcony. We would stay here one night and then make our way to White Sands Beach the next day, arriving  a day before Chloe and Trevor’s wedding, which ended up being a blast!

Ombi

Next: Chloe and Trevor get married at Tamanu on the Beach.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”. – Mae West

Dedication: To my husband Alex, who is my eternal source of passion, compassion, friendship, humility and joy! You make my heart sing and you make me laugh! My world is a much better place for having you in it!

Kids playing in Port Vila Bay

With Justine at Room with a View
Saying hi to Philip’s wife in Port Vila
Alex enjoying a beer in Port Vila

Leaving Pele Island
Tusker, the beer of Vanuatu
Kids on Pele Island

Pele; stumbled across this fella on a walk
Local kids on Pele Island
Local children, Pele Island
Pele Island oven

Church on Pele Island

Pele Island
Brekkie at Room with a View

Alex, Port Vila Bay
Bananas in coconut milk

Street soccer, Port Vila

Island life … Port Vila
Port Vila Bay

Lady at Port Vila market
Iririki Island, off the coast of Port Vila