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It's thought that the first people to reach Vanuatu were the Lapita from Papua New Guinea who arrived around 2000BC. Clan-based villages separated by mountainous and jungle-clad terrain resulted in the development of numerous languages and localised customs.Trade as well as battles occurred between villages and a victorious village often claimed a hostage who was later presented as dinner to the other chief as a show of the victorious chief's status and power.

Spanish explorer, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros was the first European to arrive in 1606. Cook arrived in 1774, who drew the first charts of the region and named "Efate Island", "Sandwich Island", after his benefactor, the Earl of Sandwich.

"Vanuatu"  means "Land External"  and the population are called "Ni-Vanuatu" meaning "of Vanuatu". In "kasdom" (aka custom) orientated areas, traditional ceremonies still form an integral part of village life. Status and power are still earned by taking "grades" through the "Namangki" system. For example, wealth is shown in elaborate ceremonies with feasting, dancing and ritual pig killings or by men and boys diving from wooden towers with vines tied around their ankles, known as "land-diving". "Nekowiar" is a spectacular 3-day gift exchanging ceremony where attempts to outdo each other are made with lavish gifts, dancing and ornate make-up and, the "Rom Dance", featuring dancers wearing tall, conical masks and a cloak of banana leaves is another grade-taking ceremony.

For us, however,  we decided on our own grading scheme that definitely did not include cannibalism - a gastronomic tour around Port Vila, starting with breakfast at "Au Peche Mignon", where we savoured "straight out of the oven"  chaison pomme and Danish swirls. This was followed by a long walk along the newly opened promenade to "Chantilly's on the Bay", where we had planned to sample a few treats at "Organic Paradise", but, given that we were still full from our breakfast, we opted instead, to lounge around in the comfy chairs of the hotel reception area while enjoying the views. This part of Port Vila was surprisingly sophisticated, with a very French ambience. For dinner we had decided on a seafood platter at the "Waterside Bar and Grill".  After making inquiries as to what time food was served and whether we needed to make reservations or not, we were definitely looking forward to this particular treat.

Well, it was another one of those evenings that definitely did not go according to plan. When we arrived at the restaurant we were informed that they were in the middle of a shift change and to please come back in an hour.  With that,  we took a short walk to "La Café du Village", where we enjoyed sundowners accompanied by a snack of salt and pepper calamari, before returning to the "Waterside Bar and Grill". After our drinks were delivered and we placed our order, we were informed that there was no seafood platter on the menu tonight due to an absence of lobster. Our disappointment was evident and,  although we perused the rest of their menu, there was nothing else we both felt like eating. So, after finishing our drinks, it was back to "La Café du Village",  where we managed to salvage the evening. Tuna sashimi (Roy) and mussels (Elaine) for starters, tuna steaks with mint sauce for our main course and a chocolate fondue for dessert certainly hit the spot.

Our walk along the promenade earlier today revealed more examples of "bislama".

Lesson Three:

"Goodbye" - "Ale Tata" "Goodnight"  - "Gudnaet" "Maybe" - "Ating / Maet / Mebi" "Excuse me" - "Skiusmi"

"No wokbaot long gras!"

Log Day 599 Answer: "Prescription medication for children and everyone".

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