I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Exotic South Pacific
Wall Art In Port Vila
We stopped yesterday in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
To be honest, it was a little disappointing. You sort of expect an exotic South
Pacific island to be Interesting, exciting and well,. . . exotic. It really was none of these.
To start, the cruise ship docked at the
container pier. Of course this makes sense, on these islands they do not have
the infrastructure of large cities, so you build one facility to accommodate
large ships and the cruise ships have to share with the freighters and container
ships. The downside of this is that in most cases these container piers are
stuck on the outskirts of the towns and you need to find a way into town.
Port Vila Shops
Here is Port Vila you have a choice. You
can take one of the many mini-van taxis or you can take a water taxi. We
elected to go with friends and take a regular taxi into town and then a water
taxi back. These 2000 cruise passengers are a much-needed boost to the local
economy, and there is a lot of competition for customers. I was sent out in
advance to navigate the throngs of eager transport operators and negotiate a
price. I discovered that the water taxis were simple, a set price of $5 each,
and they don’t actually care if you use US or Australian dollars. The Mini-van
taxis were more negotiable, and I got prices initially from $20 per person to
$5. The difference here is that they want to get you into the vehicle so they
can begin to sell you on a complete “Island Tour”. Since
most people get into
the taxis to go downtown, they begin by telling you how boring the town is and
how many interesting things you can see on their “Tour”. I ended up doing very
well, getting a ride into town for all four of us for only $10. Even though our
friends had already booked a tour with the ship (terribly overprized according
to our driver) he continued to sell us on the possibility of taking a tour, but
he was friendly and a good driver. A 10 minute drive deposited us safely
downtown where we discovered that most of the local information about the town
was accurate – it wasn’t much, lots of tourist shops, a market, and a few dodgy
drinking establishments. After looking for a spot with decent WiFi we gave up
and settled on a place serving local beer.
We took a water taxi back to the boat. All
these boats are the same, a fiberglass open boat about 20 feet long with an
outboard motor. They put 12 people in the boat sitting on wooden benches. One
passenger asked about life jackets and I suggested that the loose pieces of
plywood serving as a floor would keep her buoyant for a while. She shrugged her
shoulders and said “All part of the adventure I suppose.” On the way back to
the boat we saw some evidence of the destruction caused by a recent cyclone as
we passed an island that was littered with sunken and damaged boats that had
been tossed ashore in the storm.
certainly not the exotic South Pacific Island I had expected, but at least Port
Vila did not have a MacDonald’s.