No, I did not misspell the title! Fact is that the local language, called “Bislama”, contains a lot of english words spelt as they are pronounced!
Actually, in Vanuatu they speak both English and French, because the Country was governed from 1906 until independence in 1980 by a strange “Condominium” (that’s how they called it!) between France and Great Britain.
We did not know what to expect from this stopover, which initially seemed to be more a way to break the long passage to Australia, and we found an interesting country, where most people still lives the ancient way, although everywhere they use mobile phones (there is no village, however small and poor, where there is not the Digicel’s red sign saying “top-ups for sale here”!!).
Five outstanding memories:
– the waterfalls near port Vila, called “Cascades Waterfalls”, a beautyfull succession of little falls in the middle of the forest, that look like a designer had a hand at them.
– the long rides in the trunk of a batrtered-down pickup truck along unpaved “roads” across the island of Tanna, from the airport to the Yasur volcano, passing by villages still made of wooden huts.
– the ride along the black-sand dunes at the foot of the volcano, just like in the desert dunes!
– the volcano’s night show, with its continuous explosions of red-hot rocks (another Rally group was barely missed by a large rock!).
– the nearly-naked male-only dances at the “Kastom” village (so called because they follow the traditional “customs”, indeed).
We could not see all the islands highlights, as each island has its own and some events are seasonal, like the land-diving ritual (in this season the vines are too dry and could break!), or take place in faraway islands.
The tourism industry is still rudimentary, but growing fast: few more years, and also these islands will be “modernized” and will lose most of their spontaneity, alas!