Day 1,052: Port Vila


As you all know (since you’re reading this and are therefore as intelligent as you are good looking) Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu. Unlike the other places we’ve been to so far on this cruise, Port Vila has a port so no launches today, we simply pulled up alongside and hit the streets. Being an enterprising (read: tight arsed) chap, I took a walking tour of the capital, a rather pleasant, sleepy kinda place. Before independence, Vanuatu was known as the New Hebrides – a complementary name to New Caledonia (the Roman name for Scotland).

It’s also worth noting that Vanuatu has an awesome flag. Unlike the Seychelles, which hasn’t. Also, people from Vanuatu are not called Vanuatans or Vanuatuvians… they’re called Ni-Vanuatu. Which is a brilliant name which makes them sound like a kick-ass warrior race from Star Trek. Ka-POW! After doffing my hat at the war memorial, I headed over to the museum to imbibe the Ni-Vanuatu culture. Now today we’re not visiting Pentecost Island, but if you’ve got guts of steel you might want to witness (yeah, you need guts of steel just to watch) the annual ground-diving ceremony. It’s like bungee jumping (in fact, it’s were the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club got the idea) but instead of a bungee rope they use a tellingly non-elastic vine and instead of decidedly missing the ground, they tend to hit the damn thing. Oh, and the participants are mostly 10-15 year old boys. Is this the maddest initiation ceremony in the world? Well, there are the bullet-ant-filled leafy mittens of doom in The Amazon…

But given the choice, I’d go for the mittens of doom.

The museum had some classic cuts of Vanuatu culture, but sadly there was no diorama of a missionary getting cooked in a big pot while the natives danced around singing Barbie Girl by Aqua. I’m fairly sure that happened at least once.

Outside it was pretty overcast, it being cyclone season in the South Pacific there is a tendency to rain like it’s Manchester on a sunny day. I opted for a tasty burger at the Waterfront Bar and enjoyed the beats of island life washing over me courtesy of the house band. I checked out the market before saying Ta-Ta to Vanuatu and clambering back on board the ship.

That night on the Pacific Pearl was the most raucous yet. With no island to visit tomorrow, myself and my merry team of miscreants: Stef, Crystal, Kyle, Quagmire (giddidy), Bryson et al caused security no end of headaches, safe in the knowledge that waking up with a cranking hangover tomorrow will not interfere with one’s itinerary. Right, that’s Vanuatu out of the way: Next up, FIJI!!!!!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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