This is a young nation – today, July 30th is the 35th Independence Day Anniversary of when the New Hebrides became the island nation of Vanuatu. The former British and French "condominium" government gave way to a new democracy. We went into Luganville today for some of the festivities here on the island of Santo. Last year, we celebrated the event in the capitol of Port Vila. The weather was not great with on and off rain and grey skies. The parade was even canceled because of the rain. The festivities in "Unity Park" involved the great marching band – an real crowd-pleaser. Though only 14 members large, this military band marches in precision and then breaks out into dance moves from the macarena to twists. The police and army marched and were inspected then shot off three rounds. That scared the kids. Luckily gun fire is something very seldom heard in this lovely, peaceful nation. There were lots of speeches and the crowd was pretty large.
Food booths- each individually decorated with festive colored material surround the park selling everything from donuts and cakes to ice cream and popcorn to local main dishes like laplap, fis, kababs and other "kakae" (food/to eat). As we were walking around we met a man who introduced himself as Colin and then we gave our names...his sister was also named Barbara so we all met – had to take pictures and then we were invited to come and sit under there covered booth whenever we wanted during the day.
We joined our friends from Mawari, Sue and Bob for lunch at one of the local booths (where you could sit down and get served a meal for about 400 Vatu ($4 US). Then we walked around and went to watch the much talked about "Monkey Boys." We had heard about the "Monkey Boys" from the previous year but had never seen them...nor did we know what to expect. A band? Jugglers? Magicians? When people would talk about them – they would always say in a very excited way - "The Monkey Boys" are performing. Well, we stayed to see them. They are a comedy trio...and to appreciate them the way the Ni-Vans seem to - you have to be fluent in Bislama - which we are NOT. It was fun though to watch the crowd and hear them laughing.
As usual our transport in and out of town is always interesting. Our ride in this morning was with a private truck driven by the company's owner Bob and his wife Annie. They own a small wood mill nearby and were heading into town and gave us a lift. These people are so friendly. The other day when we went in to get groceries, another private truck picked us up and drove us all the way to the place to get our propane tank filled. We have met some wonderful folks and it always seems to end with an invite from them to join them for a coffee at their home.
Happy Independence Day Vanuatu....it was great to see how proud you are of your country.
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