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  • Day50

    Port Vila, Vanuatu

    March 13, 2020 in Vanuatu ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    Today we are docked in wild and wonderful Vanuatu. At 7:30 this morning, it was already 90 degrees and probably 95% humidity.
    We had signed up for a “bushwalk” which sounded like “fun” (we call that the F word).
    It was truly amazing. It was an opportunity for 10 of us to get away from the beaches and the resorts and see what real life is like on a remote island in a country like Vanuatu.
    Vanuatu is made up of 80 islands with a couple of larger cities scattered throughout. It is a country that has about 90-95% unemployment. Their main income source is tourism. We were allowed in today, but I’m sure it was a difficult decision to turn away another ship carrying 3000 passengers for fear of Coronavirus. They remain untouched so far, but introduction of the virus would be devastating to them.
    We drove about 30 minutes to a rough path and went on our way through the jungle. The heat was oppressive and I instantly realized that my shower and the semi-cute outfit that I had donned that morning were pointless. Within minutes my shirt was soaked, not only from sweating, but from wiping the sweat dripping off my face. We saw many interesting plants and the sky was beautifully blue with puffy clouds. We passed a women dressed more heavily than I would have been and carrying a fur jacket. I guess heat is all relative. We walked along some open jungle paths, some narrower, enclosed paths, some beach areas filled with hand-hewn fishing boats and did a rock scramble. The expedition experience on this cruise is new, and we saw it here! Usually, walks are described by saying “you walk 200 meters, or need to navigate a couple of steps onto the bus”. This was more climbing than I’ve done! We had two strong local men that helped us, but it was still a challenge. Everyone was a good sport, cheering each other on, and giving a good yell when reaching the top.
    Something that we found most interesting was that the houses and homesteads were beautifully tended, if very simple. The roofs are thatched and many have vegetable gardens-people tend to be self-sufficient here due to the high unemployment rate.
    The lawns are gorgeous, all done with stringtrimmers. I asked about the pristine nature of all the homesteads and was told it was a cultural expectation. Their is a chief for each area who assigns certain pieces of ground to various individuals and helps maintain the order.
    Another shower after the hike, and still another shower after getting caught in a deluge of rain when we went back into town in the afternoon.
    In any case, I am super clean and had a great walk that afforded us guilt-free eating and drinking for dinner!
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