We have been in Vila for the last few weeks recharging the batteries (our batteries not our laptop’s). Ice cream, cold drinks and fresh meat most days has been a real treat. Also we’ve been able to get heaps more work done being able to run the laptop for a full day on mains electricity.
We had a huge surprise last week! A visit from Pippa’s dad, Miles (who said he would never come to Vanuatu!). He arrived from Australia determined to ‘bump into us in the street’. Matt heard a car pull up where we are staying and went outside to discover Miles getting out of a taxi. He then asked that Matt entice Pippa outside on false pretences. What a surprise for her! Tears and hugs were shared and he was welcomed inside. Luckily we had a spare room (in our friends house where we are staying) so he could stay with us rather than a hotel for the week.
Pippa toured her Dad around the delights of Port Vila including the colourful markets, cultural museum, cascade waterfalls, secret gardens, village life, the underwater world (snorkeling) and she even threw in a cyclone for the complete tropical experience. Cyclone Jim came within 300 kms and caused some gale force winds and rough seas. Luckily the weather improved and the seas calmed enough for a snorkel at Hideaway Island later on in the week.
(Pippa’s Dad in the Port Vila markets)
(Pippa and her Dad trying some kava at the local nakamal)
(Cyclone Jim's movements - supplied by Pippa's brother, Nigel)
(Waves whipped up by cyclone Jim hitting Vila)
Pippa’s Dad gave us a second surprise when he arrived with a “picture frame” under his arms. He offered to show us what was inside and instead of a painting he pulled out a 40 watt solar panel that he had carried all the way from Australia. He had also bought 2 lights and a fan that could be powered by the panel – these simple items will be ultimate luxuries back on Ambrym Island!
(Miles with his generous gifts)
While Pippa spent the week with her Dad being a tourist, Matt spent the days teaching at Port Vila International School. He enjoyed getting back into some maths and science teaching and had a fun week with well behaved students from all corners of the world, even one from Russia!
After both having busy weeks, we decided to spoil ourselves with a 4 day/3 night diving package at Tranquility Island Resort on Moso Island. Pippa completed her PADI Open Water Certificate and is now a qualified recreational diver. Matt did some different dives while Pippa was doing her theory and underwater exercises.
The water was a little stirred up from Cyclone Jim but we still saw heaps of turtles, beautifully coloured fish and some great coral. The deepest we dove was to about 20m. We stayed in some beautiful basic bungalows right on the waters edge and had heaps of privacy (we were actually the only tourists there!) The food was also fantastic and the hosts were a young Aussie couple who we got along really well with.
(Matt holding a baby Hawksbill Turtle - Moso island has a rearing facility for holding baby turtles until they grow to 30cm and can fend for themselves.)
(Moso is full of Hermit crabs – no shells left for this guy who was using a shell of a local nut)
(Matt relaxing on Moso)
We are now back in Port Vila for another week getting as much done while we have mains power and resources close by. We are getting a little too used to luxuries of Vila and are a little apprehensive about going back to the basic conditions on Ambrym.