Luk luk, plei plei, tok tok

Yup, look, play, talk.  That pretty much sums up Santo.  More Santo here.

Champagne Beach – 3rd best beach in the world according to CNN (
so it must be true, right?)

World’s coolest pikininis? Quite possibly

Boys. Anywhere. Any age.  Same story.

Loru Conservation Park in Santo – the walk was decisive until we realised the things flying about above us were flying foxes …
Blurry shot marks the realisation that the coconuts FALL off the tree. Near miss.

Emerging victorious: fresh coconut juice, it’s hard to go past

Noah’s Ark

The sun was out, cruise ships were in and the idea of a getaway to a remote tropical island sounded too good to be true.

It was hot outside and Vila had become a steaming mess of  Westerners with corn-rows and t-shirts advertising beer.  Tourists flush with alcohol and sun jostled along the main street, clammering for the latest pirated dvds.

As sweat trickled down my brow I was bailed up by a bus driver. “1000Vt yu go wea?” At close to  6 times the standard fare, it was the final straw. I made the call.  We were going to Santo.  A place we were told would be saved when Armaggedon hit.  I figured this was as close as it got.

Towoc Guesthouses = best. Ever.

When you ask people about Santo, they swoon.  As the largest island in Vanuatu, Santo is home to exceptional beaches and a lesser known cult.  This group say the tectonic plates that rise under Santo are a sign that it will be the last place left on earth. While I’m sure that idea is bulletproof I went into the whole thing a bit skeptical.

Armed with backpacks we made our way to a little bungalow on Champagne Beach, the third best beach in the world (CNN says so, so it must be right…).  Janet welcomed us with a big smile, thrusting menus into our hands and assuring us she made “nambawan aelan kakae (food)”.  But with the light fading, we decided to first put the beach to the test.

Our pad.  Home to us, and it seemed one agitated chicken…

Flanked by cows, chickens, pigs and dogs, we made our way down to the water.

In Vanuatu animals roam freely through villages, and even in some cases streets.  On any given day you can be greeted by a pig at breakfast, trailed by a cow at lunch then harranged by a chicken at bedtime.  There are no “farm” animals. Instead animals eat, sleep and play at will, often with hilarious results.

My general approach to this is live and let live. I go about my business, and the animals go about theirs.  It was going well until one particular animal initiated a showdown in Santo.

Good morning…

Our cute little bungalow, also home to chicken’s eggs…

It all started with the chicken.  I’ll put it out there. I don’t like chickens.  I’m not going to explain why (mainly because it’s not overly rational) but I will say that I am not happy if chickens approach me, enter my personal space or look at me with their beady little eyes.  I don’t eat alot of chicken and I don’t really like eggs.  As a general rule I keep a wide berth of all things poultry. But the chicken just wouldn’t leave it alone.

First she cornered our bungalow, patrolling the door while I clung to a plastic chair waiting for her to leave. After marking her territory she strutted off, content that I was no competition.  It was hours later as we peered into the darkness with our solar-powered lamp, that Janet said “Yu harem wan noise, i stret”. After some miming and broken bislama we realised what she was saying.  No worries about any noises in the night….the chicken is roosting an egg in your bungalow.  Live and let live.

We managed to lose the chickens at the beach.  The cows however were a different story.  The stunning vista was dotted with cows that waned away the hours, basking in the sun and breeze.  Looking out over the water, just us and the cows on the 3rd best beach in the world.   Then, as the long shadows of sunset stretched across the sand, the cows slowly made their way back to the paddocks while we took shelter in our little bungalow by the beach.

It was an awesome sight that got me thinking about the rising plates on Santo.

Cruising with the locals, next stop Champagne Beach.

As dogs barked, pigs forraged and those damn chickens cackled knowingly, I remembered that story you hear as a kid, the one about Noah’s Ark.  Something about a big flood that wipes out everyone except for the animals on the boat.  Looking at the quiet confidence of the animals on Santo, I couldn’t help thinking maybe, just maybe, that cult is onto something after all.

Some pics of Santo – click here.

What a difference a day makes

So now it’s proven.  Whether it’s too much rain or too little, the weather can really mess with your head.

It was a week ago and we were marooned in our apartment yet again.  The rain was falling hard, hissing and roaring as it pooled in the gutters. We were stuck.  No food. No car.  No way out.

I resorted to the internet.

Search term: “bad weather bad mood”.

Not surprisingly the results were phenomenal.

Researchers in Australia say extreme weather events can affect your mood.  After 8 weeks of relentless rain in Vila, I’m pretty sure most people here would agree.

Taken just a week apart.  They really are the same place….

That was of course, until we experienced Saturday.

Glorious is a word I don’t often use.  It’s one of those terms you reserve for a hymn book, or a grandmother, or someone far more proper than me.  That said, I can’t think of a better word than glorious to describe this weekend.

We woke up slowly, listening for the diligent march of raindrops on our roof.


No rain.

Mild hysteria set in.  The morning was a flurry of mad packing and crazy laughter as we made our way to a local island.

They practically had our names on them…

Toby in his speedos….he thinks they make him look European….

Pure white. I purposefully didn’t include the photo of my bruised feet, it kind of ruined the effect.

I don’t know how to describe the sheer beauty.  The glassy turquoise waters, the way they lay flat and still like mirrors over the coral. The vivid colours that burst from the landscape.  Rich reds and vibrant blues that washed out every other memory.

I found myself hoping that the moment would never end.  Yet it’s funny, when the clouds rolled in just a little over 3 hours later, I was ready.  If I can have just a few days of sun like that, it makes the rain almost bearable.