Day 6 of our Transpacific Repositioning Cruise was another bust—we missed our Mystery Island port (another beach day gone!) due to high seas and our inability to tender. After a very rough day at sea, and me losing my breakfast (while still in the dining area) we arrived at Vila, Vanuatu on Day 7 and were able to walk on dry ground.
This time we took only 2 year old Ethan (the girls didn’t want to leave the kid’s club) and while walking to the front gate of the secure port we were hounded by taxi/tour drivers on the hillside road trying to get our business through the chain link fence. We were quickly flagged down by a returning cruise ship couple who recommended that we take their same taxi driver who gave them a wonderful and affordable tour that morning. Indeed, it was one of the guys who was shouting at us from the side, so we made contact and met him at the front gate. We jumped into his beater van (and I mean beater), and discussed his $10/per person fee for a city tour (we weren’t interested in seeing just the city), and instead agreed on a 2 hour island tour (with a very generous tip this ended up costing us $60 USD).
Vanuatu is comprised of 82 relatively small islands, and Port Vila is the capital city/island (44,000+ people). It has a wild history, one in which the French and British jointly controlled the islands from 1906 to 1940. Therefore there are French and English sides of the island, where locals predominantly speak one language or the other. After a quick “city” tour which consisted of looking at a clinic under construction and the parliamentary building, we took off on a more scenic drive around the tip of the island.
We spotted some locals collecting clams.
Here’s our driver. He was a very nice man!
School children playing in the fields…
A small local market…
Ethan happily enjoyed the scenery!
And so did we. How could we not?
We wanted to go to the Cascade Waterfalls (tour via the boat cost $69/adult), but opted not to when we learned that the entry to the waterfalls costs $20/per adult! It would have been a beautiful 20 minute hike up the falls…but…eh.
Typical-looking housing along the roadside.
He took us to Mele Bay, which had some vendors selling their wares, and was just beautiful, in general.
Ethan made a fast friend…
And although we didn’t shop…we just enjoyed getting out of the van and briefly walking the beach.
While we were there a tour boat returned with passengers from our cruise ship whom we recognized. They said the nearby island had pretty great snorkeling!
Ethan was closely watched by a local toddler around his age.
Just on the other side of the vendors was a school, perhaps out for a recess or lunch break.
The teachers supervised.
Meanwhile, we passed several LDS meetinghouses…so we just had to get out and take a photo! The Mormon population on some of these South Pacific islands is quite significant!
Our tour guide took us to some random places, including a cemetery, which was unlike any cemetery I’ve ever seen. It was full of beautiful green plants instead of flowers!
Our guide then began talking about how his father was murdered when he was a young child, and how he wished he knew who did it—because he would kill him. Yeah, that got a bit weird. So…we changed the subject.
We saw a bit more of the city, and then we made one last stop at the large local market.
I was in heaven looking at all of the produce, and their amazing eco-friendly shopping bags. Can you imagine weaving these bags?
Taro is a local favorite…
A daughter lays under a table in true take-your-child-to-work fashion.
And I loved watching this young toddler cut off the ends of the fresh greens with her mom.
The Mom turned around and caught me taking a photo, and gave me a big smile. As per most Moms anywhere in the world, she then grabbed a tissue and tried to clean off her daughter’s face a little.
Overall, it was fun to get off the ship and get a taste for the local island, and support an individual who very rarely gets to make much of an income (cruise ships don’t arrive often—and being a tour guide is his main line of business). Our guide was great, and we enjoyed our tour on the fly!