Hot and steamy - incredibly humid and sticky.
We disembarked and ran the gauntlet of local stalls selling sarongs and plastic leis and caught a minibus/taxi into town for $3. There's not much to Port Vila - just one street about a kilometre long with a local food market at one end and Duty Free shops at the other.
Port Vila is very much like I remember Fiji from 20 years ago. Rustic, tropical, underdeveloped and easy going. Not pretentious at all. The shopkeepers were not at all pushy or obnoxious (unlike Fiji) they were almost too casual - we couldn't find anyone to serve us for quite a while. It was a pleasure to be able to wander round and browse without feeling pressured to buy, but we were a little surprised that the prices weren't lower - supposedly duty free. MBB bought some sarongs for her girls and some grog at a price cheaper than on the boat. In the end the heat got to us and when we were both a sweaty dripping mess, we retired to a cafe for a snack and a decision on what to do next.
The weather was overcast and muggy and every 1/2 hour or so it would pour down with rain - not very promising for a scooter ride. We decided to find a taxi (preferably air conditioned) and ask the driver how much for a personal tour for an hour and then drop us back at the ship. We found a guy and negotiated a price - approximately $30 and he took us to 3 different resort hotels before showing us some real scenery from Vanuatu.
There wasn't really much to see - we drove through the shanty town to see the true contrast of rich and poor. I felt like such a fraud sitting in an air conditioned taxi, videoing the lives of people who could barely afford a roof or food for their children.
It started to pour with rain so heavily that it flooded the roads and before we had seen much at all our hour was done and we were delivered back to the ship. We once again ran the gauntlet of local stalls but they were easy to resist.
A quick bite in the Horizon Court, a quick thrashing at backgammon (I was the thrashee this time) and a quick two miles saw the end of our visit to Vanuatu. I passed the early evening on deck as we proceeded out through the straights and then found yet another quiet corner in a bar to read and write. Six days in and I'm still discovering hidden treasures on the ship.
After dinner we all headed up to Lido deck for 'Island Night'. Everyone was dressed in grass skirts with leis and the chefs had put on the most magnificent fruit and dessert buffet. The display was magnificent but I couldn't have eaten even one single strawberry. Only those who had had early sitting for dinner would have had enough room left to consume more food. I'm not much of a joiner when it comes to these types of events and I gave the Western Night with line dancing a very wide berth - I only have to survive one more formal night on the last night of the cruise.