Thursday, March 22, 2018

"...and jam, if I can afford it."

$17.00 a box but on sale today!
     We have discovered that the economy is different when you live on an island.  Cargo ships are constantly channelling into the wharf of Port Vila loaded with goodies from New Zealand, Australia, and China.  Not only do they deliver pots and pans, souvenirs, fabric, and clothing, but also consumable goods:  food!   But before the food meets the wharf, food items will have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled in price. These items are not headed to the local open market but to the local supermarket chain, Bon Marche, where expats find their familiar favorites.  They find it difficult to manage their suspense and, like children on Christmas morning, make their way to the supermarket to discover cargo surprises.

 Items not manufactured or grown here become a treat.  We know.       We like lettuce, too, even if it is $30.00 a pound. Floored?  Then we have something in common.  Want a tomato with that lettuce?  Add $9.00 a pound.  Of course, we can buy in ounces, and we do!  While pasta is affordable, grapes are $9.00 pd, pepperoni, $15.00 pd, cheddar cheese is $10.00 pd, broccoli is $10.00 pd, and if you want zucchini or squash, you will have to borrow from the bank. 
The cattle industry here provides affordable beef, and as long as the cargo ships float in salsa and chips, we can mix our Taco seasoning, play a Spanish album and be grateful.  Bags of  chicken feed reveal proof that chickens exist here; however, they are expensive critters at the supermarket weighing in at $10.00 pd for parts!

...but where are the chickens

Our affordable source of food comes from the fresh local markets:  bananas, pineapple, avocados, white and sweet potatoes, egg plant and the best carrots in the world are in abundant supply there.
As a result, our typical meals-- breakfast: coffee, affordable in our expat world but enjoyed sparingly, a banana, scrambled eggs and fabulous french bread/toast.   Dinner:  roasted potatoes and carrots, a stuffed bell pepper and a toasted real French baguette make for much merriment in our kitchen.
The economy is certainly distinguishable when you live on an island.  The cargo ships supply the demand and demand determines the cost of items.  Waste.  There is very little wastefulness and an abundance of resourcefulness here. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Day Trip: Let's Go Touring!

Kia Picante
Follow the yellow road
Several Fridays ago at 5pm, we rented a little Kia Picante.  Early the next morning, on Saturday, we packed a few items and hit the only road that circumferences the island of Efate, Vanuatu.  We asked a few of the Ni-Vanuatus if any roads crisscrosssed the island.  Nope.  "You can't get lost.  Just follow the coast."

It was a beautiful day, and we had to resist the urge to stop multiple times during our tour.  However, we want to share with you some of the highlights our day.

The interior of the island is jungle, often with not a road or path in sight. Yet, oddly enough, we were surprised more than once when we encountered groups of walkers going somewhere.  They came from no road and there was no road for them to exit onto.  The men carried machetes and the women, umbrellas.  They all waved!  Later, we learned that the machetes cut the way to the beaches and the umbrellas protected from sudden jungle downpours.

Soon, the asphalt road swerved back onto the coast and the landscape begged us to stop for photos.  In this photo, we see the island of Emao.  Little speedboats carried snorklers to their paradise.

All along the way, cute little resorts would unexpectedly pop up.
Solomon, Historian
Solomon's World
At Le Life, we met Solomon (and his too friendly bird) who told us about Cyclone Pam, 2015, and how it devastated that side of the island.  Of course, we had this discussion with a cup of Tanna coffee.

WW II Museum
Two guys who love America
Caffeinated and caught up, we headed north and started looking for the sign that would lead us to a WWII Museum and its docent, Eric.  In his museum, Eric explained that in early 1942, the Japanese military had already reached the Solomon Islands and New Guinea and intended to push on to Australia and New Zealand.  But Vanuatu stood in their way. The American military turned Vanuatu into a massive offensive staging area against an impending attack from Japan. Within months, 100,000 troops arrived from the US, finally peaking at 400,000 at the height of the build-up on Vanuatu.    We spent a lot of time with Eric.  This guy loves America and named one of his sons after Lt. James Vittitoe.  It was Eric's father who rescued Vittitoe when his plane crashed into the ocean off of Vanuatu's coastline.  This was worth the stop.

Tree down!
There was a little mountainous area where our little Picante displayed great resolve.  At the top, quite a vicious rainstorm disturbed our world and, with it, loosened trees slid down onto our roadway.  Workers were busy cutting and clearing...with their machetes! 

As we wound our way down the mountain, passing family after family strolling from some secret spot to some invisible exit, we were greeted with glorious sunshine once again and a resort to end all resorts!  There, in the middle of nowhere!

The Middle of Nowhere Resort!

One view!

Of course, we had to stop and see if they had coffee!  They did and we did!  Check into if you have an extra $900.00 per night for a little pampering!