We are finally in Vanuatu !! I could not wait to visit this country that looks amazing!
- Day 272 – Monday 30th of October 2019 : Vanuatu, here we are !
- Day 273 – Tuesday 1st of October 2019 : Espiritu Santo
- Day 274 – Wednesday 2nd of October 2019 : East coast
- Day 275 – Thursday 3rd of October 2019 : Gaua
- Day 276 – Friday 4th of October 2019 : Waterfall
- Day 277 – Saturday 5th of October 2019 : Rainy day, happy day
- Day 278 – Sunday 6th of October 2019 : Water music
We have our breakfast, we close our bags and two girls from our host’s family come to pick us up to take us to the airport. They are really nice and talk to us! This makes us very happy and I take this opportunity to ask them why people wear mats around their belly. They explain to me that it is to show respect for a person. For example, a few days ago their prime minister died. So people are dressed in black (more or less long depending on their relationship with the deceased) and they hang a big mat around them to show people that they respected the prime minister. I’m really happy to finally understand this because every day we see people wearing mats but we did not dare to ask them as they did not seem open to the discussion. Arriving at the airport we thank them and wonder if we would have loved our stay in Tonga a lot if we had the chance to meet people like these girls all along the trip. In any case we leave with a little positive!
We check in, pass the customs and then we wait for our little plane that will stop on Fiji. Flying over Fiji we say that it looks really nice (I regret not choosing Fiji rather than Tonga but the call of whales was stronger than anything). There are a lot of mountains, you cannot see the sea!
When we arrive in the terminal, it is really a “heat of a bitch” (as we often heard in the marsh in Paris …), we discover a new way to greet: “Boula! “. This is the “hello” Fijian. The people are very nice and smiling. It cheers me up! We train in the airport and then we go to eat. Quentin spotted the “burger king” … for me it will be an Indian dish. It looks like there are a lot of Indians here.
At 14:30 it’s time for us to embark. We fly over Fiji … it’s super nice seen from the sky! I think we will add this destination when we come to live on Moorea (we cross our fingers for this to happen!).
The flight will pass quickly.
People who look important come out of our plane first. The air is really hot here too. I observe people, they have ebony skin and frizzy hair for the most part. They are beautiful and smiling. I am so happy to finally be able to visit this country! He was on my list for too long. For the record, Vanuatu is in the South Pacific Ocean. The country is part of what is called Melanesia. He was colonized by the British and the French. People speak English and French and this mix is also due to the fact that the French and English had some conflicts of interest and decided in 1904 to create a joint administration. This gave the name of “New Hebrides condominium”: Franco-British colony.
We will inquire about our future flights with Air Vanuatu, then we go buy a local SIM card and get information on how to go to our hotel. You never know if you can speak French or English. In the plane it surprised me that the pilot also speaks French! We try French and in general it works well. The people are very nice. We decide to take the local bus because it is (really) ten times cheaper than the taxi. We will see in front of the airport. The technique is like everywhere we have gone so far: you put yourself at the edge of the road and you stop the combi-van. A gentleman takes us all happy. His go is very small and we have to go back to our business. This makes him laugh .. On the road we see the locals, they are really beautiful I think (yes I’m already worshiping!). He drops us off at our hotel and even stops in front of the reception! I can not see the buses in France do that!
The lady at the reception speaks French and we seem to make her laugh with our jokes. She shows us our room which is huge.
We rest a little and then around 20h we will eat in a restaurant she told us. We go through a supermarket to see what they have. Well, it looks like all the mini markets in the Pacific … nothing fufu. We are going to the restaurant. He does not look good. There are only locals and it is held by two young smiling women. They explain what they have; everything is going to be spicy here I think! Try the spicy beef and chicken. The girl looks at us, putting the rice to us with an air of saying “more? “. We will sit and good pick, the meal will be very good!
After the meal we go to bed, tomorrow we fly to the island of Espiritu Santo where we will meet Isabelle, da me who helped us organizing our stay in Vanuatu.
After a little sleep in our hotel we take the bus to the airport. It is gray outside and it starts to rain … we cross our fingers so that it is not like that every day!
We will arrive at the airport far too early. We only have 10kg of luggage in the hold … we have more even if we had left a lot of things in the hotel. So we try to empty our bags in our pockets! We do not look like anything but our bags are 10kg
We wait and then we decide to go get a coffee. The plane had to take off at 12:10 … we boarded around 12:30.
The flight will be short. Once in Santo Airport we do not know where to expect our luggage. It’s not very clear. We manage to recover them and there we find our driver, Damascus, who is waiting for us. There is also a young tourist, Solène, who rides with us. I ask her if she also called Isabelle and she said yes.
We’re all going to see Isabelle, who lives next to where Solène is staying. She will be in a house she will share with two other French, Maëlys and Eva. The accommodation where we had to go had no place so we go to sleep in a hotel restaurant down the street. Isabelle tells us that when we get back from Torres we can go to the house if the other place is too noisy.
We are greeted by Baila, a great French-Senegalese half-breed. He is really nice. Our room is right on the restaurant room which was to be the initial living room of the apartment. We’re lucky, today the restaurant is closed. The house restaurant overlooks the sea; there is a boat wreck right in front of it. We will discuss with our host and Isabelle a moment then we will decide to eat … it is 15h already.
We will try both restaurants but both will be closed. So we decide to walk to the city … well there will be only 15 minutes walk in all. Isabelle told us that next to the market we could eat cheap local cuisine. Perfect. When we arrive at the market we cross the girls who go shopping. We discuss a little then we abandon them to fill the belly. We see several small houses aligned, all colored. We think that these are the restaurants. We take one at random, I let Quentin choose. There is an old gentleman sitting at a table reading an old book on world geography. We are greeted by a mother and her smiling baby. We settle down, the grandpa looks at us with a smile. We order then we discuss a little with the grandpa. He’s very nice. The meal will be simple but good and hearty. After the meal we go for a walk along the sea and then we will return because there is not much to do.
Around 18h we must find Isabelle and the girls in a bar. Isabelle is tall and slender, she is 56 but a peach hell. She is a little hippie roots on the edges. The place where we are is very dark, there is no music and no tables. Just very long benches. We wait for them while falling asleep halfway. When she arrives Isabelle offers us a welcome drink. As is the tradition in Vanuatu, people are greeted with a glass of Kava. Kava is the local drink made from the root of a pepper tree, the “Piper methysticum”. The roots are crushed and pressed to extract the juice. It is appreciated for its euphoric and relaxing effects, which is observed after several glasses. It has even become very “trendy” abroad, in countries where alcohol consumption is very problematic.
It was and is still used during rituals (I advise you to read this article: https://journals.openedition.org/jso/6483). It is drunk in a place called the “Nakamal”. It is a specialized bar. There are more than 300 in Vanuatu and not all serve the same Kava. Tradition has it that after toasting in their language, people drink the kava dry and rinse their mouths and spit out the water. The Nakamals are bars that open in the evening, where there is not much light and no music, so that the effects are felt better and faster. In other words nothing comes to disturb your mind.
It was considered by the missionaries as the “drink of the devil” in the twentieth century. It was even banned by the British and French colonizers. Since Vanuatu’s independence in 1980, kava has been officially rehabilitated as a symbol of traditionalism, a lucrative alternative and harmless alternative to alcohol.
We drink the whitish drink, we spit it out and we rinse our mouths. I feel the effects immediately … I feel that the air is no longer circulating in my trachea! I freak inside but in silence, everyone seems serene. We listen to Isabelle who tells us the day tomorrow; we leave to make all the same excursion.
She also warns us about the fish. We must not eat fish unless we are certain that it is fish that has been caught in the open sea. The coral is infected with a parasite that will give you what they call in the Pacific, the “scratch”. At best it will be itchy, at worst, in addition to that, we will have vomiting and diarrhea. All this will be accompanied by an intolerance for a good year to all fish and alcohol! And the marriage approaching, it is out of the question that I can not stick to it in July 2020!
At some point I manifest myself because I’m freaking out … it surprises you? In fact Kava has a small numbing effect … cool. We will discuss two hours and then we go back to bed (it will be only 20h …) … the day was so intense! 😀
Damas picks us up this morning at 8am sharp. We thank Baila for his hospitality and we tell him in 10 days because we will return squat at home two nights.
We go pick the girls and we start. There is a very good atmosphere within the group. We discuss, Damascus tells us many interesting things about his country. For example, many foreign countries like France and the United Kingdom help them in health and education, the Americans have built their paved road. The Japanese bought land to raise their cows, the Kobe breed, the one that costs the restaurant a lot … The meat here is considered the best in the world. They have three types of cows (Charolais, local and Limousin). Sometimes they try to mix with zebus. Same for coconut trees, they have varieties of several countries that they mix with each other to have juicier and sweeter cocos: Polynesian, Vanuatu, Brazilian. There is also something crazy, the Chinese bought an island to make a “resort” that will be transformed into a casino (the Chinese do this in many countries now unfortunately). They also bought a huge piece of land on which they created the largest “nino” plantation; it is a flat of the pacific which has medicinal virtues; it is used to lower blood pressure and diabetes, and apparently it could cure some cancers. Just in front of their plantation they are building the plant that will be used to process the “nino”.
Our first stop will be at Jackie’s Blue Hole. When you read that you wonder what I’m talking about, or why I say Jackie’s hole is blue … I understand … actually a “blue hole” that’s a source of fresh water in a big hole whose depth and the surrounding vegetation gives its beautiful color to the water. It is really awesome. When we arrive we are alone. We throw ourselves into the water. That’s wonderful ! We get along with girls, we made videos with my gopro dive and lose our jerseys!
After this beautiful stop we leave towards the beaches, always in the company of Damascus who answers all our questions.
We arrive at the beach of “Champagne beach”; the Americans used to drink champagne on the beach, hence the name. White sand that almost hurts the eyes with the sun, turquoise and blue water of which I cannot say exactly the type; in any case it’s really beautiful! The beach is surrounded by green vegetation, maybe that’s what gives it its color too. This is one of the prettiest beaches we have seen. We throw ourselves into the water, it is ultra transparent! We will swim for two hours before going to another beach for lunch.
The beach is not far away and the water has more shades of blue. We will eat in front of the sea.
After that we will go to our final destination of the day, “Olry beach” where we will spend the night. Again it is beautiful but there is wind and the sea is rough. It will not stop us from taking a dip! When we arrive we discover the bungalows facing the sea. Ours is the best located ahah. They are simple but it’s perfect!
We will all order our meal tonight. Quentin will take fish that normally is not poisonous, and me a traditional dish with beef.
In the meantime we go swimming and then we go to the village. People are too beautiful it’s crazy! As it starts to rain we come back to the beach to go faster. A beautiful little girl approaches us to discuss. I want too much to take a picture but I dare not ask him.
We can take a good cold shower and we will not do much until we eat too much tonight!
Around 17:30, when the night begins to fall, our host comes to get us all to go for a drink of “kava”. We go to the village and we reach a person who is preparing it. There are plenty of flying foxes flying to the mountain “big bats”. We watch the man prepare … it does not make you want to drink afterwards. It’s very sporty. He crushed the plant and wrung it in a towel to recover the juice. He does this several times before it is ready. When the “kava” is ready, he lights a red lantern in front of his bar to inform people that “kava” is available at home. We each take a drink (it serves us twice the day before). Our host invites us outside so everyone says a thank you for what he wants, then after toasting we drink all but dry (except Eva who thinks to have thrown half of his glass discreetly: D). We all return to the dark room and we settle on the benches where we will discuss. I feel the effects immediately but it is less powerful than yesterday! After a little while, we go back to the bungalows because it’s dinner time. A family of Australians who ordered too much food gives us an entire plate of what I also ordered! The portions are consistent. Quentin will be disappointed by his fish, too dry, and I will not eat everything because I do not like some roots but Quentin will be happy to eat them!
We continue to talk a little with the girls and then say goodbye before going to bed. It was a great meeting and we had a great day with them.
The alarm clock is too difficult this morning. It sounds at 5:15 … We slept badly, I was attacked by critters whose bites really hurt!
We are getting ready. The sky is overcast and it starts to rain but the landscape is still very beautiful; we would have stayed an extra day (especially since the girls planned to ride a horse on the beach, I could have gone with them!).
Our taxi driver, who is also our host, brings us breakfast. There is chocolate spread … we will empty almost half of his pot …
We leave a few minutes later. We will have an hour’s drive. Quentin will sleep all the way. On the road we see people walking to work and children in uniform who go to school on foot too. Some use large leaves to protect themselves from the rain.
The journey will be in the rain; We ask the driver to drop us directly at the airport because in the end we have nothing to do in Luganville and it rains. We have several hours to kill. We will try to dry our wet clothes and Quentin will discover that in his little bag there are two big roaches! Yuck! We decide to go outside with the fresh air and order coffee and tea. I try to make sure my bag weighs only 10 kg … if they weigh my little bag I will be in the poo because it is well over 5kg …
I go to the balance and then decide to check in. To laugh I ask if I can weigh myself … I would not have because I kindly took some pounds on Tonga … The girl asks us to get on the scale with our bags, we find it very strange. Luckily she will not make us pay for the surplus I had in my hand luggage. We go back to the cafe. We wait and see the girl from the counter who tells us that we are embarking! Boarding is supposed to be in thirty minutes! So, we who were first (we were still 5h in advance) will be the last to embark. We laugh when we see the small plane in front of us then we are told that our plane is on the left of the small and it is also small; I laugh a little less than once. Once on the plane we see that we’ll be fifteen to go on Gaua! The typer closes the door, wearing the old, seeing it I quickly understand that we cannot do depressurization in this kind of plane … there are holes everywhere! The plane takes off, I freak a little and finally the flight will go pretty well. We will land on a beautiful lawn. Lack of luck, the weather is bad.
We will get our bags at the foot of the plane. A young man arrives. We had been told about it, he will spend ten days with us because we all went through Isabelle and he has the same itinerary. His name is Tom, he was working in New Zealand and now has a little road trip. He is really nice. We meet while waiting our host Robert. We leave with him in a pickup when he arrives. We discover Gaua. It’s super pretty, wild, authentic. That’s what we came for! We see people, simply dressed, always smiling, and their houses, bamboo braided, simple. The vegetation is green around us, it’s like being in the forest.
We arrive at the bungalow. It’s super pretty. The houses are bamboo braided. Robert introduces us to his daughter Linette. He speaks French and she speaks English. So we will have to speak in both languages. We are greeted with fruit, juice and a nice necklace. We talk with them and then we get to know Tom. It’s raining ropes outside so we decide to play scrabble and Tom teaches us a great game, the Kamoul, which will become our favorite game here! When there is a semblance of enlightenment we will walk in the village. It looks nice. People greet us with their hands and big smiles.
A little later Robert tells us that his friend will come to tell us about a hike here. No problem. Victor arrives with his son Ricky. They are very nice. It’s hard to understand what Victor said at first. He tells us about two days of hiking to see a waterfall and climb the active volcano. We are okay to do that, so tomorrow he will pick us up.
Before dinner Linette proposes to go to drink Kava. We do all the houses in the village but nobody has them! A gentleman is preparing it so we’ll take it later. In the meantime we come back and discuss with Linette. We ask him lots of questions about people’s lives here. She answers us openly. She tells us that her husband is in Australia right now because they are struggling to find the money to pay for their three children’s school fees and they want everyone to go to school. In some families it is not possible unfortunately and they must choose one of their children who will be the only school. Their life is simple but not obvious, I think. In Vanuatu there is music that is only done here. Women make music with water! Linette and the other women from the village will give us a demonstration on Sunday. I really cannot wait. We are privileged. She explains to us that they transmit this passion from generation to generation. That they can play a lot of things, that they also like to create music. It’s extraordinary !
After discussing well we return to look for the Kava. It’s night. We bring back a too big basin. We drink all together for a while, there are too many! Then after this tasting we sit down to eat and Linette goes home. Robert has cooked us beef. We eat well and we go to bed.
Victor picks us up around 8am and we leave with him in the bush. We go through his house to greet his wife Florence who will cook us.
The weather is nice, we are optimistic.
We sink into the rainforest and there we start to sweat! It’s too hot and humid. It’s really super beautiful. There are all kinds of plants and trees. We hear birds but we will not see them. At times Victor explains some plants. It will make us taste the local nuts which are super good. They are scented. We are sinking deeper and deeper, we are losing the notion of time. At some point the rain will fall on us quite loudly. We will end well wet. We will take fresh water from a spring. Three hours later, we arrive at the camp. There are small bungalows but they are even simpler than where we are staying. There is a space for dinner and rest. In front of us, the volcanic lake. We are in the caldera of an active volcano. Today as there is no sun we will continue the road to the waterfall and tomorrow we should climb to the top of the volcano to see the crater.
People are coming. A family we had seen on the plane but we will not discuss with them, and two men with two other guides. One of them is old and shows his dissatisfaction … I hear his accent but I have a doubt, it seems to me that he is German. He who is with him is more discreet but looks well shut up. We observe them. We listen to the old man who moans. We laugh because we tell Tom that he could have fallen on them instead of us two! We discuss with their guide, John, also very nice. He looks a bit overwhelmed because of the one who moans. I start talking to his friend who has an Asian head. It’s a Swiss! He is traveling for 9 months and thinks we are selling a dream; but in the end we will sell him the dream! When we go to the table for lunch he tells us that they do not really know each other and that they are in a travel group. Their thing was wrong pinned blah, we do not care. We laugh because the Swiss look really disgusted with beating German for three weeks. German makes you moan. I tell him he can leave if he wants, that the family who is there will also leave in the afternoon. He wants to stay; I think he’s afraid of being alone. The weather is too bad to go on the volcano so they hesitated to stay.
After the meal, Victor tells us that all three of us go with him and his son to the waterfall. Time is not good but we will try. To go to the waterfall you have to take a small boat … We see the canoe we laugh, saying we hope it has no holes … Victor and his sons laugh because it has holes and that c I’m going to be in charge of emptying the water!
We get into the boat, the boys will row and me, with a small bowl I remove the water from the boat to avoid running. We laugh well even if we galley because there is wind and waves.
We moor the boat and then sinks back into the bush. There are views of the ocean but lack of luck, we are now in a cloud. We continue and there Victor beats on a tree with his machete and shrieks. He tries to be in communion with Mother Nature. When we arrive at the waterfall it repels cries and luckily, we can see it! she is very beautiful, and with the mist it gives him a mystical side. We will enjoy the view for a moment before turning back and take the boat.
We return to the camp and as I do not want to talk with the German not nice I decided to go talk with John and Jimmy under the tree. They made a fire so it’s good. They tell us a lot about them and about life here. Quentin comes a little later. We all talk, it’s nice and dinner time comes … much too early! It is 6.30 pm! We have dinner. The Swiss swing a spike on the German who captures nothing and we laugh. He really has the balls to be with him for three weeks! Everyone will go to bed around 7pm but for us it’s way too early. So we will play cards before going to put ourselves in our wet beds … bleurgh ….
We thought we had an appointment at 7:30 for breakfast but Victor wakes us up at 7am! We hurry to get dressed and I notice that my gourd is pierced! A rat puffed me! I am disgusted because it is new and it costs super expensive! But hey, I can not do anything so I do it with. I did not sleep well, I got bitten by insects, probably electric ants as they call it here.
We take the breakfast which is really nil for once. Crackers with peanut butter, and only coffee.
After that I go back to the tent and see a cereal bar paper. I inspect Quentin’s bag and that’s why we had a visitor during the night! Quentin forgot he had two cereal bars in his bag! Argh !!! it’s too dumb! In addition this stupid rat has smashed his new waterproof bag!
The weather is overcast and it rains intermittently.
The German and the Swiss are left to the volcano; their guide John has the balls because he did not want to go … it must be said that it is a little stuffy! We decide not to even try it. To go to the volcano you have to cross the lake and then go for a hike. Seeing the sky will be in the rain and mud. The Swiss have the balls because the German is really a big cunt, and decided not to help on the boat!
We cross our fingers so that the German falls into the water to be punished for his wickedness.
We will play cards and scrabble for hours. Quentin will even go for a swim in the lake! We will have lunch then when the others come back after having a good time, we will leave.
We will make the almost opposite way of yesterday. We will realize that in fact we had made some nice climbs. The road will be easier and we will have dry weather this time! On the road we ask Victor to find us nuts. He makes a spear to pull the nuts out of the tree with a piece of bamboo that he has been tearing off. He sold us a dream! We take our little nuts to taste it. You will also be treated to coconut, watermelon and papaya. Victor will tell us how to plant and harvest Kava.
When we go back to the village he tells us to come home at 6.30 pm to taste the kava he has harvested this afternoon.
When we come back we meet Linette who is happy to see us. We discuss a little then we go to the shower and we take the opportunity to do a big laundry.
We’ll hang out a little and then Linette will talk with us while her mom starts the meal. She is really sweet. We will give them time to go take the kava at Viictor.
He is waiting for us with his son, with whom we had no time to discuss. He teaches us a lot about export kava abroad and that they are in a great business plan with foreigners and it brings them a lot of money. We all discuss together while Victor finishes kava preparation in the traditional way. He grinds the kava with a stone and not a machine. He uses coconut to wring and serve the kava. It still does not give us want but we will not escape three big glasses. We will feel much more effects with this one! Tom and I will have the feeling of being well fucked. Quentin will not have that feeling. We still discuss and leave them because we are waiting for dinner. We give them an appointment tomorrow at the church.
When we arrive no one is there, then Robert arrives to serve us the meal. He is not very talkative. We dine with this horrible feeling of being on another planet. At the end of the meal Linette arrives to talk. When she leaves, as it is still early we will play cards before going to bed.
This morning we decide to go to church to see if people are singing in Bislama. We managed to motivate Tom by saying that it could be super pretty.
Linette had told us the day before that mass would be at 8 o’clock. Rober wakes us up at 7am and tells us that it’s already started! Linette arrives and tells us to take our time. Finally it will not be at all what we thought. The songs will be in English and there will be no musicians. We are bored a little; we look at the rain falling outside. It was beautiful before going to the church so we hope it will change quickly!
After Mass, a little gland and some card games, Linette comes to pick us up to see the Water Music show. Village women know how to make sounds with water. It is a knowledge and a passion that they pass on from generation to generation. This is only on Gaua. They made some representations abroad to show their music to the world. We feel really lucky and privileged.
We head for a beautiful red and black sand beach. The colors are really beautiful. The sand gives a beautiful color to the sea.
Linette tells us that after she and her friends have changed next door she will pick us up for the start of the show. They put us a necklace of flowers and each in turn come to greet us.
After that, they go in the water, form a line and Linette will tell us before each music what it is. It’s impressive ! It is very beautiful because they wear a traditional costume made from tree bark and flowers. They all have a braided crown with colorful flowers. We enjoy the show, we take full. Eyes and ears. They seem to have a lot of fun too. Children try to imitate them at the same time and are all very happy. It is super nice and it’s really nice!
After the show we make group photos and then they change. We thank them then we go to get our stuff to go swimming.
When we come back, there are lots of kids playing in the water. I take the opportunity to take pictures while the boys are snorkeling.
We will stay a moment before going to lunch. After lunch we will take the time to rest and do all the stuff in our corner before returning to tan and play cards on the beach.
At the end of the day we will continue to play and Robert will serve us his beef dish too overcooked and too fat at 18:30! To kill time we will play until 9 pm before going to bed.
- Day 279 – Monday 7th of October 2019 : Air Vanuatu
- Day 280 – Tuesday 8th of Octpber 2019 : Changing plans
- Day 281 – TWednesday 9th of October 2019 : Blue hole & snorkeling
- Day 282 – Thursday 10th of October 2019 : Millenium Cave
Today we leave Gaua for Torres. Robert tells us that the car will pick us up around 8:30 this morning. After breakfast we do not see the car arrive … Robert stresses a little … the clock turns and the rain begins to fall well. He tells us that we will start the road on foot, just in case, not to miss the plane! We get ready and we start walking in the rain. By chance the car arrives. There is only one car available on the whole island right now. The driver drops us off and we arrive at the mini-airport in Gaua where a lot of people are waiting. We find German and Swiss.
We weigh our luggage and we are weighed too. We’ll meet Robert outside. A few minutes later the plane arrives. One of the guys who works at the airport comes to us saying that there is a problem and that we can not leave! He tells us to go talk with the pilot … okay, here we go. The pilot opens the door of the plane and tells us they do not have enough fuel to drop us all three on Torres. He tells us we can go but without luggage! We only have the right to 1.9kilos of luggage for us three … it’s embarrassing that … so our alternative would be to stay on Gaua until Thursday and then return to Santo because there is no other flight to Torres before Monday. Well … we get our things back and then we’ll tell Robert everything. We see the German and the Swiss who had to go to Santo to catch a plane tomorrow. German is not really happy (to change) and moan. So we do not pay attention and we explain the situation to Robert who was waiting to see if tourists arrived without reservation … in the end we will be these tourists! The plane leaves and one of the guys tells me that Air Vanuatu will take over the housing. Robert advises us to wait and all right to be certain to have a place Thursday. He leaves us to go to the bank and tells us to find him there. The hours pass. We read, we eat peanuts, we relax, we watch the German get excited in all directions and harass one of the guys trying to fix things. After a while we come to get us to tell us that finally we could leave Gaua. The plane will come back to us (it is much cheaper and less risky for the company) but we will have to go on Santo. Okay, that’s fine! Quentin searches for Robert to say goodbye and when the plane is there we go to Santo. The flight will be less than an hour. Arriving we take a taxi, I call Isabelle, we put our things next to her home and then we will eat. It’s raining cats on Santo. We choose a restaurant a little chicos (not very expensive finally) for lunch because we do not have much option. The meal is very good. We will see Air Vanuatu to try to get refunds. I try to tell the girl that we need housing etc. The girl tells us that Air Vanuatu will pay us the hotel night but that as it is late they will call us tomorrow morning at the hotel. The driver who must bring us arrives five minutes later to take us to a hotel that we do not know. When he says the name, Tom clicks and says it’s a great hotel! So we go for it! We will pick up our stuff with the driver who will drop us in the hotel chic after. We arrive at the hotel, we are super happy. The girl at the front desk gives us our keys and tells us our rooms which will be great bungalows! We will have the best of the hotel! We put our stuff and then we go to the pool overlooking the sea. We order drinks that we can drink in the pool! We will discuss in the pool for two hours before going to shower with hot water! As it is too late to go for kava (the kitchen closes at 20:30!) We decide to have dinner. The waitress tells us that we are entitled to a meal worth 2000 vts … I will only take desserts and the guys dishes with cocktails! The meal will not be excellent finally, except my pancakes! Tom will go get his game and we will play a little before going to bed.
After taking our time for breakfast and having a little splash in the hotel pool, I decided to go see what is happening with Air Vanuatu. They had to call us but no one called us again. I’m going to see the reception lady who is completely to the west and knows nothing about the story. She calls the office in town telling us to go see them. So I warn the boys, we store our stuff, we put everything in Tom’s bungalow because ours must be emptied and we take a taxi.
We arrive at the office, the girl looks up to see us. She knows she’s going to have trouble. Obviously Air Vanuatu has zapped us and they are not willing to pay us another night. The people in the office in town are not very nice and tell us that all charges must be claimed at Port Villa … we’ll see that later. We had imagined lots of scenarios to go on Torres but none will be the proposal of the lady. Tom will be leaving Port Villa on Thursday and Quentin and I will be going to Torres for a day and a half this weekend.
We decide to go see Isabelle to tell us our next plans and that she can organize housing and taxis and we decided to go eat on the port before returning to the hotel. The girl at the front desk is super nice and lets us use Tom’s bungalow all day. We are lucky, the internet works well, it is super nice and we are alone in the pool.
After this big relaxing day we decided to go to the Kava bar. I will be completely fucked. Quentin will not feel much. We will eat at the Thai restaurant which will put us out around 20h then we will return to make card games before making a big sleep.
The taxi picks us up around 8am to bring us to the Turtle Bay resort on the east coast. A good half hour later we discover the hotel where rich Australian and New Zealanders stay. It’s very pretty and there is a beautiful view of islets and the turquoise sea. The boys have a coffee and then we go kayaking to a super blue hole. It will take a long time to get there! We will be too fed up. The landscape will be very beautiful though. We will sail in the sea before making a big part in the river. The water is crystal clear and has beautiful colors. It feels like kayaking in the jungle. The trees at the edge of the bank have their roots uncovered and they are majestic. We will hear lots of birds.
A good hour later we finally arrive. It’s really so great! Tom is excited to see the vine on the tree for jumping into the water. We will spend two hours on the spot to swim in this beautiful water, to jump and to make videos.
The return to the resort will seem shorter but we will hurt too much to the shoulders and arms (we rediscovered muscles).
We decide to have lunch at the resort. We will have a little crazy, the meal will cost us the price of one night at Jocelyne!
The captain of the small boat picks us up to take us to Dany Island. It’s a private island with a great snorkeling spot. The journey will be short. We are greeted by the owner who asks us to pay him and explains two things. The sand is very fine and golden; pity there are corals everywhere! We will find a clear spot to put our towels. The boys will snorkeler and I will paddle in the water because not want to put my head in the water. I might have had to finally because it’s one of the most beautiful snorkeling sports in the country …
We will leave at the end of the day towards Luganville. We ask the driver to leave us at the butcher’s shop because tonight we would like to cook a good piece of meat to accompany the great bottle of Saint-Emilion that Tom brought back from his grandfather’s cellar in France. After this great meal we will link the parts of “kamoul” then say goodbye to Tom who leaves early tomorrow morning. We will be a little sad (yes we are sad but do not blaze eh) because we had used to have with us this young man full of repartee! We meet in Paris then we go to bed.
This morning I really, but really do not want to get up, let alone go hiking in the mud! I hurt too much everywhere because of the kayak! The pickup picks us up on time. There will be 6 in all, two French from Australia and two from England around the world. We go to the office of the Millénium cave in town where the son of the village chief where the walk starts explains the program of the day and tells us that the money we give is used to finance the schooling of children in the village . When I see what is waiting for us I just want to go back to bed!
We sympathize with the people in our group and then go on a pick-up. We will do almost an hour of 4×4 on a rutted road. When we arrive at the village we will re-explain the program and we will leave dry things for our return.
Quentin and I do not have sneakers we will go in river shoes. The trail is very muddy. So much that we slip into our shoes. I’m too fed up, I laugh and then I decided to hike! It’s just as boring but at least I do not mail to the feet! The forest is very pretty but I really have trouble appreciating because I feel very weak. We will have to go down wooden ladders not very stable, walk on logs of wood half in my mud etc. Less than two hours later we finally arrive at the entrance to the cave. Quentin and I will be the last with our guide Charlie who is super nice and who really pays attention to our safety. He gives us flashlights and we begin to sink into the cave. That’s wonderful ! It’s huge. Once inside I think it was well worth it anyway! We walk slowly in the water. Sometimes it reaches us higher than the knees. We observe the walls. There are lots of bats and lots of swallow nests. We think we could make a money watch with that! We walk slowly, we take our time. At the exit we find the others who crossed super fast without appreciating. We’re glad we had Charlie with us to explain things to us. He told us that people in the village ate bats in broths … yum. We could also turn off our lights and see how dark the cave was.
The exit of the cave is beautiful too. We are in the middle of a rain forest. It’s green, the trees are majestic. We have lunch and then we put our lifejackets on to begin the canyoning part. I’ve always dreamed of canyoning but now that’s the moment I’m freaking out!
We throw ourselves into the river which is super cold. We let ourselves be carried away by the current. After that we will have to climb on rocks. The landscape is wonderful ! The last part will be swimming for 45 minutes. We will jump into the water and we will observe the landscape around us, it is splendid! We are really happy!
The very last part will be to return to the village. There will be a good climb on rocks and I will fail to break my shins by sliding on a sh**** scale. I’m going to have two big bruises on each leg, it’s going to be beautiful! I cannot anymore. We change then after Quentin has finished his coffee we will leave for 20min walk in the mud to find our driver. The return route will be just as rotten.
Arriving at Jocelyne’s home I shower and then go out to buy cakes and flip flops … I lost my two-dollar flip flops I bought on Tonga; they resold the same at the supermarket here!
We sit each on a chair. Quentin will read and I will watch a movie while eating my cakes and drinking my coke. I am very tired. Quentin will do the meal but I will not be able to eat much, I think I’m sick … so I’ll go to bed and I’ll let him eat and read.