Tuesday, May 01, 2007

30 April - 1 May - lost in thought by the pool…

It is so easy to forget how stressful being on holiday is. The torture of having to drink cold beer (Tusker Premium, the local brew) to prevent overheating, the agony of having to sit by the pool for hours on end, the tropical sun beating down as I sit (lie) here under a large umbrella, meditating on what I would do if I were Regional Chair. Do I go for a swim, do I order another beer, do I change the CD to Kylie? Questions, questions…

From this, you might have guessed that I’ve left New Zealand, and you’d be right. Welcome to Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, an unusual country in that it gained its independence from two countries on the same day, Britain and France.

Vanuatu was formerly the New Hebrides, about as unhelpful and indication as you might find, as it is a green, sun-kissed, Y-shaped group of islands south-east of the Solomon Islands and north-east of Queensland, Australia. We’re eleven hours ahead of GMT here, so whilst it is 3 p.m. here, you’re asleep, well, most of you are, at home in London.

But why here, I hear you ask. Three reasons, the first of which is that I could get here using my frequent flyer miles. Air New Zealand fly here once a week and trying to persuade United Airlines that this was viable was an experience, let me tell you.

“Where would you like to travel today, Mr Valladares?”

“Port Vila, Vanuatu.”
“Port Vila, Vanuatu.”
“United Airlines doesn’t fly there, sir.”
“I know that, but Air New Zealand does, and I want to do it using miles.”
“Oh, well where is Port, where was it you said, sir?”
“Vila, Vanuatu, the airport code is VLI…”

Let’s just say that I managed to get here in the end…

Second and third, there are two very unusual things to see here. Pentecost Island, which is famous for its land diving. Men build a rickety looking tower out of wood, tie vines around their ankles, and jump off of the tower. And no, I’m not planning to do this myself… Next, Tanna Island has one of the world’s most accessible live volcanoes. I want to climb the volcano and have a look. Apparently, only one tourist has died… I wonder where my insurance policy is?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you don't make it back, do I have to look after your cats?