The paranoia about catching my connecting flights from Santo to Port Vila and then home to Auckland has left me unable to sleep. A storm wakes me up in the middle of the night, and sparks a lucid dream where my flight is cancelled due to weather, and I’m running around the airport in a captains hat, urgently trying to charter my own plane. I have become Jeff with a J.
The storm is actually concerning, but there’s nothing I can do about it at 3am so I force myself back to sleep. When my alarm goes off at 5:45, the rain has stopped so I launch myself out of bed, grab my bags, and head to reception. Someone is meant to be driving me to the airport but there’s no one around. I hang out for 20 minutes waiting for someone to wake up, but the warnings of “flights sometimes leave early” and the suggested arrival time of 6:00am printed on my ticket are bouncing around in my head so I say forget it, I can walk. It’s only 20 minutes. I somehow manoeuvre my way out of the maximum security system on the lodge gates, and speed walk to the airport.
K, so the airport is empty. Blinds are shut, doors are closed, no one is here. Again, as I did on my way here, I watch the Air Vanuatu staff show up for their shifts and open up shop. Why did I rush here? Why am I like this? Why was 6:00am printed on my boarding pass if the airport isn’t even open at this time? I feel foolish but I would always rather be safe than sorry when it comes to flights. I’m the first to check in, so at least I get a good seat. My plane arrives on time, we leave kinda on time, and touch down in Port Vila just after 9am. Boom. The stressful part is over. Now just 7 hours until my flight home.
Catching the bus from the airport, I’m feeling absolutely ridiculous for spending so much on transport when I arrived. About 90% of vehicles on the road have a red “B” or “T” license plate, so if I’d just been a wee bit patient I could have figured it out. My excuse is that it was midnight and I had no idea what was going on… but could have saved myself at least 1,000VT ($13). Hurts just a little bit.
Port Vila is rainy and quiet because it’s Sunday and everyone is at church. Even the 24hr mama’s market is mostly closed, with the exception of a few stalls. I treat myself to a nice breakfast at the only open restaurant I can find, which happens to be down by the waterfront and quite fancy.
A 90 year old man leaves on a speed boat with two captains and not one, but two smokin’ hot, very well dressed Asian women. I catch the flash of a red Louboutin stiletto as one woman is stepping into the boat before they speed off towards a massive yacht. My mind is blown. One of the waiters comes over to gossip and tells me he’s some Russian billionaire. I look at my dirty feet and once-white flip flops, and run my hands through my hair which must be on its third day of going unwashed. Why aren’t I a Russian billionaire? Just kidding, I wouldn’t trade it.
I kill some time writing and head to the airport where I meet up with Elodie, who I met on my first day here. She chose to go to Tanna so we compare notes about our experiences. In the end I don’t think either of us could have gone wrong – we both had an awesome time. Her photos from Tanna have made me more than ready to come back again though.
While trying to spend the last of my remaining cash, and buy two local beers to bring home for my boyfriend who is a beer nerd, the waitress misunderstands and opens them both. Guess we’re having a pre-flight beer.
Peace, Vanuatu. It’s been an absolute slice. There are not many countries I’ve visited that I feel I need to go back to, but I definitely need to come back to this beautiful Pacific Island. Port Vila and Santo are just the tip of the iceberg of what Vanuatu has to offer, and next time I will organize to visit the more rural islands. Pentecost was an example of how important that is. If you ever have the chance to visit, promise me you’ll do the same! Until next time.