Vanuatu marks the 95th country or territory we have traveled to….only 133 to go! (Well, that number really is a moving target, as so many places are grouped with others, or aren’t really a “country” – such as Puerto Rico, or are recognized in one list but not in another. And some places like Taiwan are extremely controversial with regard to their status.)
We found Espiritu Santo to be like so many of the other islands we visited…tropical, very hot, surviving on tourism, and as you can see with the native performers in the first few photos….buckets placed for donations. Everyone is trying to make a buck!
Formerly called New Hebrides by Captain Cook, a name that lasted just over 200 years until its independence in 1980, Vanuatu is made up of 82 small islands stretching about 800 miles. It is located east of Papua New Guinea and southeast of the Solomon Islands, famous as the island group that JFK was stranded on during World War II. It is 1,500 miles off the northeast coast of Australia. Vanuatu’s most successful crop and export is coconut and its derivatives, with processing plants sprinkled around the various islands. For about 70 years, Vanuatu was administered by both the British and the French in a joint commission. However, the Melanesians were barred from holding citizenship in either country, so they were, in effect, stateless.
Vanuatun food is similar to that of most other islands in the South Pacific, heavy on seafood and incorporating fruits such as coconut, papaya, mango, breadfruit, and banana, and root vegetables such as cassava, yams, and taro. The national dish is lap lap, made from yams, plantains, or cassava, wrapped in banana leaves, and then roasted under hot stones.
The photos show a little bit of life in Luganville, from being greeted at the port by costumed locals, to children playing in the water just adjacent to the ship, to a rubbish bin with no liner (we are guessing someone just reaches in and removes the contents to yet another bag, bin, or garbage truck), and the police headquarters. A very small and sleepy island town.