Port Vila is a bustling little capital city here in Melanesia. Tour boats from Australia routinely stop here, disgorging more passengers than there are local residents. The Lonely Planet tour book is kinder on Port Vila's appearance than we have observed. It's not a pretty-well kept city, but a duty free pitstop for large cruising boats. The mural above is of days past or might possibly still be seen in villages in remote islands.
Today, the men wear western dress and the women are clad in loose fitting, missionary coverups with some island flare, mostly in the way of fluttering scallops reminiscent of grass skirts. The seamstress business seems to be thriving.
The city in general is not well maintained (roads, sidewalks, garbage pickup, litter) and pollution from burning and vehicles is thick. We have heard the same excuse for litter here as we heard in American Samoa. "The people are used to throwing peels, skins, etc on the ground after eating because traditional foods are biodegradable." thus it's reasonable for them to continue throwing trash on the ground. Education and incentive is lacking.
The people we have met are generally friendly. We took the walking tour around town and enjoyed the open market and museum the best. Yams are definitely a staple of the islands. Food in the grocery stores and restaurants is pretty pricey. We've eaten out twice for a modest dinner and it has cost us over $50.00 each time. Two bags of groceries, mostly perishables from the grocery store was $116.00. So yams look pretty good, especially if you are on a tight budget. There is a lot of filling nutrients in a yam for the vatu.
|Yams in a Basket, 600 Vatu, about $7.00|
|Chicken on a bed of taro leaves and yams|
|Meals wrapped in biodegradable packaging|
Vanuatu Kava is reportedly more potent here than in any other island country. We have seen little root, but a lot of powder for sale, probably for tourist consumption more than anything.
One of the most interesting items for sale were the fruit bats. Guess they are good to grill and are inexpensive enough for the locals to buy. The traditional way of preparing them is to stuff them into fat bamboo shoots and grill over an open fire. Not even sure they are skinned first.
We preferred the French pasteries. These could definitely be the end to our waistline!
|Breakfast - Better than Bats, but appx. $30.00 (6 bats)|
|While we eat, we enjoy watching the people and reading the local newspaper which is a mixture of English, French, and Bislama languages. Sometimes you can almost think you understand it.|
|Finger is never removed from sand..one continuous line over line.|
We applied for our Australian Visa's yesterday at the Australian High Commission. These should be ready for us early next week. When we have these in hand, we will be leaving Port Vila for northern islands. A local donor dropped off a lot of school supplies in bags at Yacht World's offices. We are taking several bags with us to the northern islands when we leave.
Tomorrow, we are taking a tour via a van around the island to see some cultural activities and do some snorkeling. Hope the weather gets better. It's been overcast with clouds and smoke since we have been here. It rained last night. Hopefully, the sun will come out tomorrow!
All is Well with the 2 Sail R's on S/V Worrall Wind