Thursday 17 June 2010 Luganville

After anchoring in a safe, unencumbered  yet deep bay last night we moved up to Luganville proper this morning. We anchored in the same place as last year, opposite a small resort. The resort has services for yachties, such as showers, laundry and a dining room. The owners have continued the renovation work throughout the year and although there is still work in progress the result is very stylish and the staff are as helpful as before.
Only the heaviest rain seems to stop us doing anything these days. If we waited for dry weather we would be sitting idle for a long time. Today it rained on and off all day but we seemed to fit quite a bit in. A few of our number did some clothes washing a few days ago and it is still hanging on the lifelines around the perimeter of the ship. Not long after it was hung out someone called out “its starting to rain, are you going to get the washing in?”. Without missing a beat or moving a muscle Carl replied “no, its in its final rinse cycle”. So you see we have become pretty philosophical about the rain. Still we each only have one dry t-shirt and shorts and they are getting pretty dirty now because the final rinses has been going on for days. But they are thoroughly rinsed.
During the night the anchor alarm went off. I got up to turn it off but muddled it up. Eventually Paul got up, and I swear he was still asleep. He went to the gps, hit a few buttons and went back to his cabin. That was at 4am and I noticed that the electrical storm on the horizon was still going on. That’s more than 12 hours of constant lightening.
Once installed at the new anchorage, Paul, Grant and I went ashore for a reconnoiter of down town Luganville. We tied the dinghy up on the beach in front of the resort and wandered up to reception. After getting a pamphlet about the services available we hopped in a taxi. Taxis are everywhere and are the main source of traffic in addition to heavier commercial traffic. In Luganville all the taxis are a size smaller than in Port Villa. Our taxi was a size smaller than a Toyota Echo. The driver had his little daughter with him for the day and she was on the front seat. “Can you take us to Luganville?” we asked “Yes” he replied. “All of us; OK?”  I thought I should check looking at our large size and his small seats. “Yes, yes, no problem” he replied and with that his daughter stood up to let me in the front seat and Paul and Grant climbed in the back. Once all seated the little girl sat on the edge of my seat. On the way in we asked the driver about the location of different things. After a while he got a bit confused and he clearly thought we should already know the answers some of these questions. “How did you get to the resort?” he cleverly asked. “By yacht, last night. We haven’t seen Luganville yet” I replied. The driver laughed and then drove us right through town once so we could see everything and then back to the centre of town to do our shopping.
I went to an auto teller and took out all the Vatu my bank would allow me. That’s about $500 in Australia but in Vanuatu I took out 40,000Vt. The machine labored over the request then I had to fit it all in my wallet. In the taxi, while I had been chatting to the taxi driver, Paul had read the pamphlet thoroughly and when I said “lets find a supermarket” he was able to reply “It says here, that there are no supermarkets. The nearest thing is this shop we are standing in front of” I hadn’t recognized it as a supermarket  so Paul’s research was essential. We went in and bought a few things. Three men in a supermarket was almost embarrassing. The place was quite small but we walked around and around looking and not finding what we wanted. Eventually I asked Paul if I could wait in one spot while he continued to do laps. “I’m getting a bit dizzy myself” replied Paul. A couple of times I asked the attractive young teller, who never seemed to be as busy as the other tellers, for directions. In a soft voice she would repeat the question, think about it for a while then point to the store and say “down there”. It was bit like our navigator taking us to the village in the dinghy saying “Straight” no matter what direction he meant. Eventually we found everything we wanted and checked at the only free teller, the same sweet girl that gave us directions. Maybe all the locals knew she was a trainee and lined up at the other tellers. Her supervisor came to help process our small shopping collection. Beer, coke, long life milk, local paper with World Cup results……..
In the supermarket we were stopped by a man who had noticed our t-shirts and said he met our team last year and he knew Dr Allan’s team too, who has another medical/sailing program. He offered land support on Santo to us and the use of a 4wd for our work. I gave him our greeting card and he said he would get in touch with MSM via the web site.
We got a taxi back to the resort. All the time Grant had been fantasizing about Pizza after Paul had read they were available at the resort. However, he was told to wait and we took the whimpering fellow back to the boat. Paul made a lovely lunch of Welsh Rarebit and then it was Carl and Chris’ turn to go out in the world, chaperoned by the now very experienced Paul. Grant was going ashore at the same time to have a shower (so he said). There was great excitement during the preparations for going ashore which seemed to take ages. I’m glad we can tack ship faster than getting ready to go ashore. I fell asleep on my bunk where I had retreated to get out of the way only to wake as they were leaving. “Have a good rest Skip” they called out from the dinghy, excited smiles etched into their faces. They left at about 2pm and I didn’t see them again till 5:45pm. “Paul, Paul, this is Chimere, do you copy?” I radioed at last. “Hi Andrew this is Chris were having a lovely time here.” She replied with little giggles. A bit of work to do on radio etiquette I was thinking then I asked “Chris, this Andrew, where are you?, over”  “in the bar at the resort” came the cheerful reply. The kind and thoughtful crew didn’t want to wake the sleeping skipper so when they got back from the shops they adjourned to the bar to wait for me to wake up. After finishing a round of drinks Paul and Grant came back to collect me and we had a great dinner which, you guessed it, featured Pizza. During the meal Chris complained that she didn’t have a girl friend to go shopping with. She tried in vain to explain how important it was for girls to go shopping and share that time together. The blank looks around the table told me no one got this concept. When the waiter came back to the table I told about the problem a girl has being the only one among all these men and now that we are ashore she has no one to go shopping with. The kindly gentleman waiter sized up the situation, looked sympathetically at the boys and then said “Perhaps I could ask my sister to go with you to the shops tomorrow”. This was clearly a win win situation. Chris had someone to shop with and the boys didn’t have to go and suffer, sore knees, blurred vision, bad back and a number of other ailments that had been described from today’s shopping experience.
The irony for me was I didn’t have a sleep while they were away. Once woken by the final flurry of departure I got on with jobs, like washing my clothes, making a collection of photos to send for the web and making a few phone calls to family.
Fair winds, smooth seas and no more shopping.