“We’re friends now, yes?” So said Joe on our second meeting. An impromptu dinner invitation, a shy smile and sincerity: this is Vanuatu.
The Ni-Vanuatu do not speak the language of tourism (yet). Here, hospitality is natural, not learned. It’s an earnest question, a cheeky joke and a genuine smile.
And maybe this is why I don’t want to share it. There’s still a hint of shyness here and a desire to share (food, kava, happiness, experiences) that goes beyond the tourist trappings.
After all, this is the happiest place in the world (eat your heart out Mr Disney).
Port Vila is Vanuatu’s capital and its largest city – that said, it is easily negotiated either on foot or via the small buses (set fare) and taxis (best arranged before the journey).
Ekasup Cultural Village is a short drive from the centre of town. After a ‘chiefly’ welcome, we learned how the Ni-Vanuatu brush their teeth without a toothbrush, catch fish without a rod, and store bananas without a refrigerator (and why, when it comes to feathers in hair, size really does matter).
Then, head heavy with the knowledge that a lot of life back home is unnecessary, we were fed on coconut, yam and banana while the locals danced and sung us through a storm.
I spent most of my time in Port Vila in some form of water, which meant I spent the better part of my holiday in a swimsuit. Except for my Mother Hubbard Dress.
Introduced by missionaries to civilize the women of Polynesia, the Ni-Van women have made bright what was once restrictive. The Vanuatu Mother Hubbard dresses are painted in tropical hues or stamped with coral and shells – or in my case: dyed a rainbow of colours and patterned over the steel of a screen door.We left Port Vila with a suitcase full of clothes we didn’t wear, make up I didn’t put on and books we didn’t read – because you’ll discover that, in Vanuatu, what matters most is not what you look like but what you see, not what you bring, but what you take home.
Monday, 5 March 2012
Discover what matters: Port Vila
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Gaya Avery