Christmas in Northern Vanuatu, Day 5: A long night of cheap champagne and Christmas karaoke

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

We'll get to this part in a minute.

We hazily woke up after our sun-soaked exhaustion from yesterday, made some pancakes at Eve’s house for breakfast, and then headed straight into town. We have to squeeze in some errands before our exciting night ahead. We have a party to attend, after all!

Vanuatu is cautious about its public drunkenness and therefore limits liquor sales before the holidays. It is the Friday before Christmas, three days before the big day, and alcohol at stores will not be available for purchase after noon today.

We walked to Daming to grab some beer and spirits before the noon cutoff time, and even at 9:30am, there is a somewhat chaotic energy around the liquor aisle, which has a cage surrounding the shelves that must be unlocked by a salesperson (this is in place year round). People crowd around as one man locks one cage and unlocks another, then locks that and unlocks another, getting every customer his or her poison. The checkout line is as it is usually, which is “push harder and get served first.”

"Millinium" Cave offices, on the opposite side of a ditch.

We make a brief stop at the Millennium Cave offices so Frances and Annalisa to inquire about ticket prices and times for the outdoor hike they plan to do tomorrow. The offices are down a steep hill off of a two-lane road, and require you to jump across a ditch to get through the gate. I feel like this is the first step in weeding out the weak for the extreme hike.

We walk into town and have lunch at the Espiritu Hotel, which has the usual touristy prices but much better food than our lunch yesterday. Here, there was a meal special in which you get a hamburger, fries, calamari, small salad, and a drink for only 1600 vatu. I didn’t want calamari and therefore didn’t find it worth it, so I instead ordered a hamburger and a giant mason jar of homemade iced lemonade for 1050 vatu. They even had barbeque sauce. It was glorious.

Eve, Vanna, Frances, Annalisa and I got some work done here at lunch, and during breaks we went off to run errands at Uncle Bill’s (getting some clutch Christmas-themed scrunchies) and Stret Price (getting a hideously 70’s polyester holiday dress to wear at the Christmas party later for a low price of 100 vatu).

When it was nearing the late afternoon, we headed back to Eve’s to freshen up. One of the G28 volunteers recommended Coral Quay restaurant for Friday’s “champagne happy hour.” We were sold. We showered and got dressed in our best Christmas-themed wear, which for me included jingle-bell kitten ears and for Eve included snowflake ornament earrings, and for Frances and Annalisa meant red velvet and green holly scrunchies.

Lights in downtown Luganville
We ran into Fredlyn from the PC office on our way, who happened to be in town. We told her of our plans and what do you know, she was also headed to Coral Quay. We told her we met her there as we got in a sad taxi driver’s car (he said he was spending Christmas day in his taxi, working) and rode to happy hour.

Looking snazzy in a 100 vatu dress at champagne happy hour!

We found out the happy hour wouldn’t begin until 6pm, so we waited fifteen minutes until they rang the bell to let it begin. We quickly learned that it wasn’t just champagne, but there were also deals on cocktails and beers. Glasses of champagne were only 300 vatu. It was a steal.

The PC gang's all here!

The rest of the Santo group met us here, and we took group pictures in front of the well-adorned Christmas tree and light-laden foyer. Here, we also met some of the expat community that the Santo G29ers have come to know, as Luganville is small and easy to meet fellow volunteers. The expats invited us out to karaoke at Lope Lope resort. Chase and Keevon prepared some punch at Sydney’s house and we didn’t want to leave it until late, so we first headed off to Sydneys.

Scrunchies, hats, ears and antlers

Christmas kisses

After playing some Christmas music and fitting in an informal photoshoot against the backdrop of Sydney’s well-decorated home (which included snowflakes and Christmas-y wrapping paper), we headed off to Lope Lope Resort.

We busted into the place with our group containing at least 16 people, and nearly doubled the number of patrons. We put in our requests to the DJ immediately, who could take anything at all, as he was simply searching Youtube for karaoke lyric videos. I sang my usual “Ignition (Remix)” and “Proud Mary” and Sydney sang Britney Spears’ “Only Wish This Year” and “Santa Baby” (the latter of which she replaced the words to say “Santo Baby”) to get everyone in the holiday spirit, in case our antlers and jingle bells and Rudolph nose accessories weren’t enough. Everyone got their fair turn to sing as we were in the majority, and I heard Sam Smith’s “I'm Not The Only One” for possibly the tenth time on this trip so far, which therefore makes it this trip’s theme song.

We shut karaoke down at 11pm and we gathered everyone up (some took a dip in the ocean beside the bar) to head back to Sydney’s.

Once arriving at Sydney’s, I start up the burrito-making, and cook us up some bean burritos, the perfect late-night snack. After hanging out for a bit, we fall asleep at Sydney’s.