Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Port Vila, Vanuatu's Capitol City

First – there are some new pictures finally up as we have access to some internet - so keep checking over the next week as we try to catch up on picture uploading.

We are back in a city with traffic jams, lots of shops and our packages of parts. That means no more "zero dollar days!" We've enjoyed a few months with very little spending so that has been good. We did arrive in the big city in time for the 34th Independence Day celebration. It seems we've had the opportunity to attend many local Independence celebrations in various countries and it is always a pleasure to see the local pride in the country. Prior to arriving in Vila, we did get an early start to the celebrations by heading into a nearby village from where we were anchored and enjoyed some local street food and sports activities. We walked most of the way until a nice local picked us up (there were four of us as we conned Ian and Eva from "Gannet" into joining us on the adventure) and then we walked back. It's always a good way to see the country and meet interesting folks.

Today, Wednesday, July 30, is the actual Independence Day and we attended the big ceremony this morning in a large park. There was a great military style marching band in bright red uniform jackets, dark trousers and green caps (those are the colors of the Vanuatu flag) that did the traditional marching and playing then broke out in a very entertaining dance and music routine. It had the very large crowd cheering and clapping. There were lots of speeches by the Prime Minister and President of the country (they have both) and a flag raising ceremony, some rifle shooting and lots and lots of food booths. It seems "cake" is the big thing here on holidays as every booth had lots of cake varieties.

The town of Port Vila is a bit touristy – it is a hot spot for Australians and New Zealanders to come for holidays. There are lots of small resorts around and many shops selling handicrafts and t-shirts. There is a wonderful fresh market here with lots of booths with vibrantly dressed women selling every type of fresh fruit and vegetable from the surrounding farms. It's raspberry season here and there are also plenty of watermelons around along with the regular selection of greens, tomatoes, eggplants, pineapples, papaya and many more wonderful things.
Several large French grocery stores are here and they are well stocked with baked goods and a good selection of cheeses and meats. Unfortunately it is not a cheap town though we have hunted out a few less expensive places. Had lunch at a great hilltop Thai restaurant the other day – great food with a great view at a decent price. We look for places that have free internet so while we eat we can download stuff or upload pictures. The internet here is very slow and very expensive. They charge either by the megabyte or the time you use. Because it is so slow, it is more efficient to buy megabytes. But it costs about $50 for 1 gigabyte. But it's the first time we've had decent internet for some time so we can at least try to make some skype calls as well.

It's kind of nice to be in a city and we are walking everywhere. We had to clear into this port with customs as well – and that put some miles on our shoes. It's a great way to see the city and discover interesting little places.

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