The little plane took me to Luganville on Espiritu Santo, the largest of Vanuatu’s island.
Luganville is just a small town, with a couple of banks and shops. And LOTS of American relics from WW2. Many of the buildings and roads they left behind are still in use today, while others slowly rust away.
This one here reminded me of Angkor in Cambodia, with the trees slowly taking over the makings of man:
I didn’t do much at all on that weekend, just wandering around, getting money, doing some shopping and my laundry, and the like. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with two Italian brothers from Lake Como. Their English wasn’t great but it was enough to have a reasonable conversation. I found them a bit unusual for Italians, as they had travelled that far (you don’t see a lot of Italians travelling), and they also went on such trips quite regularly for their holidays. They had even been to such unusual places like Greenland!
We went for dinner at the market, which turned out to be really good. Cheap, and really yummy. I had steak, and it was indeed as fantastic as its reputation.
Sunday was August the 15th, and with Luganville being mostly catholic, there was a big open air service in the park just across the street from the motel where we were all staying. The whole thing started with the loudspeakers being turned on at 7am and playing godly music. I was usually awake from 6 anyway, but the whole idea of lying in bed being lazy was definitely not much advisable that day.
It was quite amazing though, lots and lots of people in the procession, everyone in their best Sunday clothes, the women in colourful island dresses. The service was held in Bislama and French, so I didn’t understand much,, but there was enough to watch anyway, with whole families having assembled in the shade under the trees, and little kids running around.
In the afternoon, we caught a taxi and went out to Million-Dollar-Point. That’s where the Americans had dumped loads of equipment into the sea after the war, because the Condominium (the joint English and French government which ruled the New Hebrides at that time) had not replied to the American offer of giving the stuff to them. So they just dumped everything, cars, trucks, cannons, whatever. I went snorkelling and you can see the remains of tanks in the water, or cannons with coral on them and colourful fish around them.
I’ve never done InterRail when I was young, but somehow the whole weekend reminded me of it. You go somewhere, meet some people and end up doing stuff with them for a couple of days, and then you’re off again to the next place. It was just like that, just being 20 years older.