Christmas in Northern Vanuatu, Day 2: The ship has landed in Luganville!

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

I awoke from my outdoor hammock-on-the-ground bed around 6am, after a pretty decent 8-hour slumber. I was very impressed. As I said before, I think making this journey with company makes it far more bearable as you can share in the weirdness of sleeping with a stranger three inches away from your elbow and another one two inches away from your head.

I was awake around 6am, and Annalisa and Frances had already been up for a bit, somewhat jolted awake earlier by the sounds of projectile vomiting in the early hours. Neither of them looked, as who really would want to see such a thing, but Frances hoped it was projectile enough to go far away from the ship should that person have chosen to forgo the plastic bag policy and just lean over the edge of the ship.

Frances and Annalisa went down to the middle level to get some hot water, which was served to them by the plainclothes safety presentation woman, who reiterated to Frances that she was “just another passenger.” Does this mean she really does not work on the ship? Can you get a discount if you volunteer for the ship? Is this some sort of reward for being a frequent ferry-rider? I had so many questions.

We enjoyed some instant coffee and crackers for breakfast to the tunes of reggaeton played off of some random passenger’s boombox as the sun beamed on us and over the bright blue seas.

Touching land in Luganville with our new school-aged buddy.

After befriending some adorable school-aged girls on the ship who spoke perfect English, it was nearing lunch time and time to hit land in Luganville after nearly 20 hours on the ferry.

Taxis in Luganville are much cheaper than buses, so unlike Vila, where you take 150 vatu buses everywhere, here the preferred travel is via taxi, which is a flat rate of 200 vatu no matter the destination or number of passengers.

Downtown Luganville

Another difference between Port Vila and Luganville is the orientation of “town.” In Vila, it is more like a traditional city with several (unmarked) roads and a grid of potential stores, businesses and restaurants. Here in Luganville, it is one large downtown road, the one road with every main restaurant, every main store, and every main business.

Ah, burgers.

We went straight to Natangura Cafe on the main strip, a favorite of our Santo PCVs. We settled down at a table outside on the patio, with a spinning “fly fan” set on our table to wave away potential pests. Annalisa ordered a vegetarian sandwich (700vt) with a fried egg, which here is called a “burger” because Australian influence dictates that anything served on a bun should be called a burger instead of a sandwich because they’re a bunch of weirdos. I got a juicy cheeseburger (800) and a “spider” (300vt) which is what Aussies call ice cream floats, because again, weirdos. Frances, however, was the winner of us all, getting the lunch special (1000vt) which was pineapple chicken fried rice served inside a hollowed-out pineapple shell topped with a fried egg, and accompanied by a buttered pasta, fried sweet potato, a croquette and a small salad.

Eve joined us for a drink, and then we headed off to the grocery store, LCM (in Vila, it’s all Au Bon Marche, here it’s LCM), to stock up on groceries, which are slightly more expensive than prices we’re accustomed to in Vila (450 vatu for one bag of chips!).

We headed back to Eve’s house, which is located on her school grounds and quite modern and large compared to our houses. In addition to two full bedrooms, one of which has a queen bed and one of which has a bunk bed, her house has a large indoor kitchen, wash basins with running water for laundry and a large living room/dining area, a bathroom with a bathtub/shower and sink, a bathroom with a flush toilet, and a covered outdoor back patio, most of which are decorated with literary murals ranging from Maya Angelou poetry to scenes from Alice in Wonderland to maps of Middle Earth, all completed by the previous PCV who lived here. Eve also has (cold) running water, electric power with outlets, a refrigerator, and a more westernized structure of a house (no gap between the walls and roof, concrete floors, etc). Running in and out of the house were her three cats, two adults and one baby kitten, who were at first terrified of us, but seemed to warm up eventually. Except the kitten. He is still terrified of us (and Eve, for that matter).

Burrito time!

We each took some luxurious running water showers in her bathtub, and then enjoyed some homemade bean burritos while sitting on the straw mat in her spacious living room. After catching up, we were exhausted and went to bed.