My Days and Weeks in Port Vila, Vanuatu

11 Jan

Week Three in Itchy Paradise
15-21 November 2010

I tasted the turquoise water! Yeah, finally. Everyday after work I was looking at sky hoping for scorching heat, but no: grey, rainy, almost cold. Saturday, beautiful blue sky, cotton clouds, ideal! First though, some exercise: walk all the way to the BIG Au Bon Marché and back. It’s time that I lose all the weight that I have gained since July — mostly because I didn’t bring a lot of clothes with me and quite a few don’t fit anymore. I asked Maureen where she buys hers and she said: Fiji. Ah, well, yes of course. I have seen clothing stores but they are for rich tourists. I may not have a choice…

I am still perplexed by the dress code — the thin line between business casual and casual. I got that line in DC, but here even DC casual is in a way formal. In short, I am always too formal because I brought my suit skirts, and even the funky shirts can’t make them feel casual — shirts I wouldn’t not wear at work in DC. Except that I did a couple of times on Fridays and got LOOKS. hihihi. I didn’t own many summer skirts, and brought all three with me, but if I wear my summery yellow long skirt at work, what is left for weekend?! Can I dress the same for 7 days? Apparently yes. I am not quite there yet, but I think I will have too… esp. since those suit skirts are tight with my extra weight – one doesn’t even come up beyond the knees!

Anyway, this is all silly talk what I need to tell you about is how wonderful this water feels. Of course, when you are in it, you can’t see the colors properly but I know I was in the turquoisest bluest blue. Heat on top, cold current, warm current, cold current… Aaaah. It’s quite shallow so you can walk for a long time or swim and still touch the ground — essential for a bad swimmer like moi. I met two fourteen-year-old girls, Naomi and Pascaline, and we chatted for almost two hours. They taught me some Bislama, which is good because so far I have just practiced reading. Maureen’s helping me. I told them about white people — they are very curious and full of interesting preconceived ideas.

I went back on Sunday – more cloudy but still great weather for a dip. I didn’t see the girls though. The only downside is that I am adding to the list of injuries! Even with an SPF 50, two hours in the sun will give you a sun burn — in particular in the back of the shoulders where you didn’t bother to put too much thinking you wouldn’t be exposed for that long. The “funny” thing is my face: when I applied sun block I didn’t go up to the hairline on my forehead so I have a one-centimeter wide band of red at the very top. It’s partially covered by my hair now, but still visible. aie aie aie!

My face has suffered the most since my arrival or maybe I think that because I can cover my legs while all my face issues have been glaring. My nose, chin and lips have healed slowly; pimples are still coming [need to figure out what’s behind those; it’s not the usual guilty pleasures of milk chocolate, salami, and cheese!]; and the color was slowly improving: from blotchy red and white (so patriotic) to a — dare I say it? — tanned eggshell. Well, I hope the redness disappears soon otherwise I have to get a fringe!

Thankfully, the sun burns are not painful, a bit itchy. What is painful are all the tiny cuts in my hands and feet. I need to get some flip-flops to swim because if I keep going, I won’t be able to walk anymore. I have them on my hands as well because the first section of water is so rocky and shallow that it’s hard to keep your balance when walking. I would use my hands to “walk” and let my legs float until I can reach a good depth to swim or sandy soil to stand. One cut yesterday wouldn’t stop bleeding, thankfully I had bandages with me so I managed to protect my toe and avoid leave a trace of blood.

I also inflicted a bad cut trying to grate a potato (yes, I am cooking — oops who fell off their chair?). My right thumb is missing a little chunk. Deep and painful because it’s just on the side of the joint. I knew it would happen. The first time I saw this grater – old, rusty and extremely sharp – I knew it would hurt me. Now it’s done and I am more careful!

I am still the local insects’ favorite source of chocolate blood — even if I don’t eat as much as I used to. I never buy Lindt because it’s overpriced. Here a bar will set you back about $10. Outrageous. Of course, anything imported is expensive. The cheapest can of tuna at Au Bon Marché is more than $2 (it’s $1 at Safeway’s in Washington). Upon chocolate-expert Ari’s advice, I bought a bar of Cote d’Or – 70% cocoa with tiny pieces of pistachios: delicious, I have to admit, but it better be for $5! I am still surviving on the chocolate I have brought over and a donation, but soon I will have to budget for this survival necessity.

I was side-tracked, sorry. I was talking about itchiness on this supposed paradise. Three humongous bites from a beast other than a mozzie, so so itchy — and ugly: big red and swollen area. The one good thing about mozzie bites here is that they only last a day. These three itched for days and I still have red marks after five. I have also had to fight fleas brought by the dogs — I am not touching them anymore!

But there is more to week three than cuts and bites! I met a couch surfer. I shook the hand of the Prime Minister. I found my new favorite to-go drink — no, it’s not Starbuck’s Tall Skim No Whip Hot Cocoa anymore… But this email is already too long, so I’ll have to keep those stories for the next one. Stay tuned!

2 Responses to “My Days and Weeks in Port Vila, Vanuatu”


  1. Home « Traveling Tastebuds - 15 J0000002Australia/Sydney 2011

    […] and never really made an effort to plant roots. I did enjoy my life there, as you can read from my earlier blog entries, in particular diving in Port Vila’s and Luganville’s turquoise […]

  2. Two Sides of Vanuatu « Travelling Tastebuds - 15 J0000006Australia/Sydney 2011

    […] November 2010-January 2011 – My Days and Weeks in Port Vila […]

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