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Oceania » Vanuatu » Efate » Port Vila
August 20th 2011
Published: August 20th 2011
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I've dragged myself to write today's blog, and yesterdays blog for what I can remember of it - well most of it was spent in the office so not much to say!

I think there will be more periods where i'm just unable to write a blog every night, mainly due to being too tired or just too busy. So I might do it every other day or so.

Yesterday (19/08/11) consisted of waking up at 6am again (naturally) packing my bags, having breakfast in my room, sorting out a few things with important things in safe pockets/distance from me and so on. I then checked out from the over priced hotel, 7,500 vatu per night. Which comes to something like £40-50 per night! Really isn't as cheap as i expected it to be at all. I presume tourism is flourishing here and no matter the price people still come.. Anyway I moved to a hotel in the centre of town, the rooms are great, the rates are cheaper so much better. I then settled down in the new room and right away headed for the meteo department which is a short walk away from the town centre. I basically worked from 7-7! it was a crazy day.. lots of secretary work, printing out 360 questionnaires, making sure they're in the correct order, the right language, the right types of questionnaires, and then stapling them. All very easy in theory but when it comes to doing that for 360 copies which equals over 1000 pieces of paper, your brain starts to tire and go dead.. but thankfully no mistakes made so far that I have noticed. Apart from the printing out of 50 extra tourist operator questionnaires which shouldn't have happened. Only happened due to the fact some of the staff came over to look at the questionnaire and i changed the page to the bislama version so they could read, and with it on that page i then accidentally printed the next batch of 50 not knowing it was still on bislama! oh well, better more than less ehh. That sums up that day well haha. There are a few other things though. I got speaking to one of the staff members, he had just got back from spending time at the Ambrym volcano, they collected data from the seismometers there and it was really interesting stuff, they also did a lot of surverying - gps work, where they measured the increasing of the bulge where the volcano is now growing again after a previous explosion. So it's important they keep on top of these things to make sure people are out of the area at the right time so they're not in immediate danger. Looking at the work they produced from their stay, it really starked me.. it was complicated stuff- complex with many different interpretations through data. So i'm here thinking i'm going to have to up my game if i want to get work in this area of the field. eek.

After looking at his data we walked to Esline's office; on the way we were passing this guy on his computer (i forget what job he does in the department, but it's near the reception) anyway, as we walk past, i notice he is looking at a page with football on, and then, suddenly.. he changes window and there is a page with porn on it!!!!! Almost immediately he stood up and blocked our point of view at the computer screen. I wanted to burst out laughing but i kept it in.. I think the other guy who i was talking to also saw it, and we both just stayed quiet and carried on walking, it was kind of awkward to say the least! At least it wasn't gay porn ey! otherwise there would have been a whole different situation haha. (no homophobia intended) .. Anyway - moving on from that sensitive subject.

After talking to janvion i think his name is.. i talked with Esline for a fair while, probably the best conversation i had had with her so far on this trip.. it's hard to say.. i mean she speaks mostly french and I speak of course english so i suppose it is hard, more for her as i don't speak much french at all. She is lovely and I am greatly in debt for her allowing me to come. But our talking is limited to a certain degree. But on this conversation i felt we had a bit of progress haha. I can't expect to come here and expect full round the clock help from her.. just her allowing me to come here is enough. But i feel she is under a lot of pressure in the department, the only one who is specialised to a major degree in the volcanic side of things and so fourth.. I think they are under staffed, and in need of more assistants to help with general things. Esline is leaving on sunday to wellington to a meeting with GNS and other high up people in her field of work. So with my main contact gone, i feel even more independent! To be honest I have been doing everything by myself, i can sense myself growing up (sad!).

Just this morning I went and booked some flights to Tanna, inc return.. I made sure I sat down after receiving the flight details and I read through the terms and conditions and everything!! like who does that?? But anyway i found out the guy at the desk misspelt my name as JULIAN TENPLETON.... cheers mate!!! so sorted that out soon enough..

Anyway furthermore with 19/08/11, once i finished working at the department i got a bus ride down to the city lodge where i got in had a shower, got changed and went straight to the bar! I was so tired and whacked out i felt i needed a reward.. got talking to the barman who told me a fair bit about Bislama in general and so on.. at first i thought he was a londoner haha, when he said hello he said it in a cockney accent, weird as. This aussie then came to the bar and we got talking, turns out he's a big rugby fan and we got talking about wales and australia games, he was at the bar waiting for a game in aus to start like melbourne storms vs sydney something. He was alright to talk to, he recommended some must do's in vanuatu so i've taken note. Had a couple of beers and left him just as the game was about to begin haha, he must of thought i was a twat, but i was shattered and went to bed straight after without writing a blog, it just completely blew past me and as soon as i hit the hay i was sleeping like a log.

20/08/11
After booking my flights to Tanna and back I then wandered back to my hotel and dropped off my important documents, I then took 5 english and 5 bislama tourist operator questionnaires with me in my bag. I went straight to the biggest hotel in Vanuatu - the grand casino which lies right on the bay of vila. <>Pause.. i can hear noises in my room.. really hope there are no creepy crawlies that are in my company without my knowing so... 5 mins later - i have just discovered there is something living in the wooden bathroom door.. there are little poop dropping along the wood coving, this sucks!!! definitely going to ask to change rooms tomorrow haha, it's a horrible sound ok<>

anyway back to the blog, yeah I went into the grand casino hotel and I asked for the manager, there was a little hoo-harr like what am i after him for etc? I explained myself, why i was here, the investigation i am carrying out etc and they soon called the manager which was nice of them, after a few minutes of wating in this luxurious lounge area the managers assistant comes out (i think) i don't think it was the actual manager anyway. I explained everything and he seemed rather interested, reading both the english and bislama version, he said he would pass it on to his manager, hopefully I will get a response. But I left him my contact details and so on and he said he would ring me by monday which is good. I continued doing this for the next few hours, finding tourist operator offices and hotels that organise tours to tanna and so on that would be affected by the Mount Yasur. I have many meetings tomorrow and on monday so I am looking forward to them indeed. I came across many kind people who were willing take out some of their time to hear me speak which I was very thankful of. So yes I should be going to bed now in prep for a meeting tomorrow morning but im sure i'll wake up at 6am as per usual anyway. Carrying on, after giving out a few questionnaires / scheduling meetings, i then came across a parade that was taking place, it was a pretty large parade with police escort, army band playing at the front, and then behind that lots of athletes. I found out later on that this was all due to the south pacific games was taking place soon in new caledonia. It's like the olympics in that it occurs every four years in a different location, but only for countries of the south pacific. I think this allows them an easier chance to come top to be honest haha. After that I went to air vanuatu again to give a questionnaire but they were closed so i will visit them on monday. After that I went to many other various tourist operator offices and talked with them, i have a good 5 meetings booked - making sure not to clash which would be a rookie mistake! So it approaching 3pm on a saturday, most places had closed and I had reached the end of the street so i decided to call off further searches. I spotted a helicopter on a pad on the water so i walked over to the sea walk way. On doing so I also saw 5 local ni-vans fishing on the coral, they had rods and a spear!! they had caught a fair few reef fish and gutted them there and then. Later on they also caught a large squid, it's just amazing seeing all this happen in front of you honestly! I soon got talking to another aussie by the walkway, we were both taking pictures of the guy with the spear in his hands making a dive at a fish... it was quite a site. Anyway we soon got chatting and he ended up buying me a beer! Fair play to the man and his wife, they were really nice and even gave me their name card with address on in australia as i told him my mum and I were going to aus afterwards, he said if we need any help not to hesitate to call them. So for that I am grateful. We got talking about many different topics from here in vanuatu currency exchange, to economies, to the london riots, to this that and the other. I also told them about the whole point of my trip to vanuatu and they seemed quite interested and i explained in further detail to them and they soon realised the work I will be doing will be of good use to Vanuatu. wuhey! So I talked to them for a good hour, oh almost forgot to mention the helicopter on the water pad which the whole reason of me coming by the sea walk for.. it took off in the time we were sat there and i got some good pictures of it leaving the harbour.. pictures pictures pictures i know my dad is after them but I am rather lazy right now and typing is the most i can do right now! You'll get your damn pictures dad! Maybe I can make an album on facebook and make it public so everyone can see it..

Moving on.. after all that I went ti the hotel and had a siesta, i was so tired I felt I had to. I then woke up around 6pm, I almost felt like staying in bed and sleeping until the next day but i was hungry and needed to get out. So I went to this cafe nearby, it is right next to the sea and looking over the edge I could see a large school of fish, it was amazin, other people were chucking in chips and chicken skin and the fish were loving it!! It was so funny because the little fish would swarm to eat the food that had been thrown in, and then even bigger fish would dive into that swarm of fish and eat the fish!! Pretty crazy!

Anyway, whilst I was in the cafe, I saw these 3 people I had seen at my previous hotel, and the day before to my surprise I had seen them also at the meteo department, Esline told me later in the day there was a presentation on Yasur, but she forgot to tell me!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how she managed that, i mean the whole point of me coming was to study Yasur, but ok, its no problem haha. Anyway it turned out that these same 3 people were geologists also staying at the same hotel as me and doing a study also in partnership with the meteo department. Really surprised me haha, so i got the guts to go and talk to them, I had over heard them at the hotel and they were speaking french. So i introduced myself "bonjour, jem appelle julian, je suis la gallois, pay du gale?" just the basics.. and then added I'm sorry that's as far as my french goes.. but i explained to them why i was also here, and that i had seen them in the hotel and meteo department, and that Esline had forgotten to mention their presentation. Anyway they invited me back to the hotel to see the presentation, I accepted and we walked back to the hotel opposite the meteo department. These 3 people spoke french, all of them are geologists, 2 of them are from france, 1 from germany, all from different universities, the german guy spoke german ofcourse, french, spanish and english, pretty amazing. The other 2 spoke a little english but not great. It turns out that the two french geologists are lecturers, and the german guy who you could tell was younger was a phd student. Anyway we talked for a while, and the french lecturer showed me the presentation also explaining everything.. they were investigating the hydrothermoline circulation from water entering the volcano, and the topography of the volcano this creates. Really interesting stuff, but again looking through their work, it's very complex stuff, which isn't easy to fully comprehend at all! I could go into much more detail but right now i need to sleep.

Anyway thats my update from 2 days back, hope you had a good read.. it's a bit much.. Pictures will come soon!!! - Julian.

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