Prior to arriving in Vanuatu we had read a few accounts from cruisers on the very high quality of the local beef. Then, when we received a recommendation from Blue Summit (Kate and Steve), to try the beef fillet at the waterfront restaurant called "Chill", our curiosity got the better of us and we were not disappointed. Two beef fillets with mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes for Elaine, fries for Roy, a side of broccoli and cauliflower gratin to share, a glass of wine for Elaine and a few beers for Roy, was not only a delicious dinner with steaks that tasted better than a number of top restaurants we'd frequented in the US, it was all for the bargain price of roughly $42USD. Unbelievable!
This morning we were up early to enjoy a breakfast of freshly baked croissants with homemade paw paw jam and coffee at "Le Café du Village". Then, it was time to explore Port Vila, starting with the Catholic Cathedral.
Estimated to have 280 000 inhabitants, of whom 45% are under the age of fifteen, the population of Vanuatu is comprised mainly of melanesians, but, in our opinion, with a much greater resemblance and mannerism associated with the African than what we witnessed with the indigenous Fijians. Two thirds of the population is distributed amongst the four major islands of Efate, Santo, Maleluka and Tanna. Given that, 85% is Catholic, as well as the beautiful Catholic churches we had seen all around French Polynesia and Samoa, we had a preconceived idea of what we might encounter here, and decided that the hike up the hill would be well worth our troubles. Finding the Cathedral locked was the first clue of things to come. Perseverance paid off, though, when we found an unlocked side entrance. It is fair to say that, unfortunately, neither of us has been in such a "soulless" holy building. The feeling was overpowering to be honest. Regardless, we took a moment for our prayers before making a hasty retreat. Very strange indeed!
Next stop was the war memorial overlooking Port Vila Harbour and Mele Bay, where we meet a delightful lady in her brightly coloured traditional dress, who was obviously trying to educate us on something, but we hadn't a clue what she was saying. In these circumstances we've found it best to simply nod, smile and say thank you. After visiting the very fancy Reserve Bank building, we met another lady and a gentleman when asking for directions to the Erakor Lagoon. Turns out they both worked for the Foreign Investment Services and, were not only happy to give us a lift to the nearest bus stop, where we arranged a ride to the Holiday Inn Resort and Spa, but provided us with a very interesting background to Port Vila and plans for the future.
Our arrival at the resort revealed a surprisingly upmarket establishment, including a well maintained golf course. After a mid-morning coffee, we decided to walk the 1.2 miles back to town, where we enjoyed a lunch at the "Thai Restaurant and Massage Parlour". There was absolutely no way Elaine could convince Roy to follow lunch with a Thai massage after he had eyed out the masseuse and was unable to establish "her" gender for certain. With that we returned to Paw Paw for an afternoon nap and to start getting her organised again after our passage.
Of course, while out and about, we encountered more examples of "bislama". The answer to yesterday's phrase is below. Try and interrupt today's one.
"How much?" - "Hamas?" "Money" - "Mane" "I don't know" - "Mi no save" One to Ten - "Wan", "Tu", "Tri", "Fo", "Faef", "Sikis", "Seven", "Eit", "Naen", "Ten" "Number one" - "Nambawan".
"I gat specel medesen blong pikinini mo evriwan".
Log Day 598 Answer: "Do you talk bislama?".