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Published: August 6th 2009
The welcome band on arrival
Location: Port Vila
Length of Stay: 19 Days
Cost per Day: $20.00
Alo…Bonjour and Hello…The 3 spoken languages here are Bislama (Pidgeon English), French and English. It is just amazing to see people switch between all three when communicating with a group of people.
What a fabulous 1st destination to begin one’s journey. Port Vila is such a gorgeous little place… It is officially the capital city of Vanuatu, however, really it’s just a town sitting on the edge of a beautiful harbour.
The Vanuatu people or Ni-Vans as they call themselves are without a doubt the friendliest I have ever come across. Apparently a few years ago, some global survey voted Vanuatu and its people as the happiest on the planet… That’s a pretty big award…I can go sit anywhere and within 5 mins, someone will come along and join me for a conversation… Has been really lovely and made some nice new friends.
If you are prepared to live on fresh fruit and vegetables from the market, I have found it quite easy to live on just a few dollars a day… If you are not, then I think it is quite an expensive place
No picking of fruit anywhere, even if by the side of the road...
as far as groceries go. A trip to the market has been a daily outing for me… for around $1, my daily diet has consisted of a coconut, a papaya and a ruby grapefruit…the coconut is fabulous as 2 meals in one with the juice and then the flesh… I must say I have become quite proficient in cracking my own coconut each day. As a comparison, the one and only supermarket chain - Au Bon Marche will give me a very sorry looking, bruised apple imported from Australia for my $1.
Now with a name like Au Bon Marche, one would have assumed this was a French owned supermarket…. Uh uh…. The Taiwanese have got it, and the Chinese just about every other little corner shop…
As I had planned to stay here for three weeks, I had decided that for the 2nd & 3rd week, I would like to somehow, someway do some volunteer work... mainly so I could get to know the locals... I ended up approaching the local Catholic Cathedral on my 3rd day here and met Father Maurice and Sister Lusia... Sister Lusia asked me to meet her the next morning whereby she very
Island dresses in abundance... Most older woman wear these daily... Only 1 pattern, but many different print fabrics
kindly invited me to come stay with her and 3 other sisters and about 25 young woman for the remainder of my time in Port Vila. Has been an absolutely fabulous experience.
Their home is called Foyer Nabanga and I guess one could call it a hostel/boarding house for young woman. The girls are aged 18-24 and come to Port Vila for work or study. They mostly come from either other Pacific countries or other islands of Vanuatu. It has been so interesting to live with them all. See what they eat, what music they like, what fashions they are into…
The sisters have all been extremely kind and good to me. I have never met a sister before, let alone live and share the days with them… There is Sister Adelina who is from Italy, Sister Paulina from Tonga, Sister Helen from Senegal and Sister Lusia from Fiji.
Have you ever wondered how a sister might spend their days… I had this vision that they might sit in contemplative prayer for hours on end every day… but no… far from it…Sister Adelina who is 89 loves to sit and sew everyday… Sister Helen is 33 and became a registered
Sister Adelina from Italy... The sisters have a rotating roster for cooking and it was Adelinas turn...
nurse in her previous life, so has a half day job at the local dispensary… Sister Paulina is 74 and likes to read, play cards and watch TV and Sister Lusia 40ish… well.. she is run off her feet from 6am to late each evening, as she is in charge of looking after all the girls, the sisters and the household… lots of paperwork, grocery shopping, running errands and lots more… she definitely deserves a payrise from the good ole Catholic Church. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Lusia becomes quite frustrated… dare I say annoyed with the traffic and THOSE other drivers… She is very funny and I have become very fond of them all.
Weather was perfect for the 1st week, however has been rainy and grey skies since, which has hampered my desire to go walking and exploring. The not so fun thing is that when there is no sun, there is no hot water, so cold showers it has been. Not much fun at all. I had anticipated that I would need to be prepared for cold evening showers at some point in my journey, but certainly wasn’t expecting it from my very 1st
Sisters Lusia from Fiji and Sister Paulina from Tonga
destination… Oh well… I shall just have to toughen up...
There have also been a number of earth tremors during my stay here… very unnerving.
Ok… so that’s about it from Vanuatu…Hope you like the photos...I depart on Saturday for my next destination…Fiji…which I am really looking forward to as I hear my favourite food - Indian is in great abundance due to nearly half the population being of Indian heritage...Sister Lusia having grown up in Fiji has also given me a number of contacts which is fabulous...
So… we shall see you all again in about 3 weeks for the next update.
Take care everyone and thankyou for all your messages of support and well wishes.
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