Luganville is the second most population or urban region in Vanuatu. With a population of 11,000, it still isn’t very large. It’s a Sunday, which means as you’ve guessed, everything is closed. It doesn’t matter too much as it rained all day. Late afternoon, I decided to head down to the market, in the Solomon Islands, the market would still be busy on a Sunday. In Vanuatu this was not the case, there were a handful of stall owners, many only selling peanuts and there was very little fresh produce. A quick bite to eat at the market booths, I ventured off to find some bread. I was told by the guy who owned by accommodation that Luganville doesn’t have a bakery. But I found a shop which sold 5 bread rolls for £1, perfect for lunch with some jam.
I spent the rest of the day hiding from the rain, catching up on Netflix and reading.
It’s a Monday and I headed into town to explore. The town was more vibrant than yesterday, but it was still not as busy as Port Vila. The roads are huge as this was the main town that the Americans used during WW11. I’ve noticed very little NGO presence since being in Vanuatu – apparently, Vanuatu is developed enough that NGOs either don’t need to show their presence or can hide away in un-named buildings. I find a few interesting places to speak to. After a bad coffee at a café, a bite to eat at the meal booth, I find a better bakery section – banana bread, cakes, pastries, and bread fill the shelves. I stock up to banana bread.
My first stop today was the Ministry of Agriculture – unfortunately, the man I need is ill, but I get his email and his colleagues. On my way back to town I noticed an education and training centre, I pop in to ask whether they teach about climate change. I’m greeted by a very hostile man, who demands to see my paperwork when I say that it is in my accommodation, but I’ve got my permit through the Cultural Council he doesn’t get much friendlier. It may be harder to get talking to people here than I thought.
In the afternoon, I wander into the University of the South Pacific library, where there are a lot of documents which related to the region and that I may not find online. They also hold all of the past newspapers for a number of years.
I spend a few hours there, writing up documents and articles. I decided to come back tomorrow to look at the newspaper articles and bulletins.
After heading back to the hotel, I email some prospective contacts. I get a number of replies and set up some meetings.
This morning I headed to the library again, to look into the newspapers, I noticed the lack of climate change or even climate articles. In the daily newspaper of Vanuatu, I noticed only 3 articles to do with climate change – globally and within Vanuatu.
I need WiFi and coffee, so I head to a different café and hope for better coffee. I send off emails for Fiji and some for Vanuatu. A dive shop in Luganville say I am more than welcome to stop in see them – I head in but they’re out diving, I should come back tomorrow.
A similar thing happens with the Ministry of Land – he’s out but will come back tomorrow. It looks like either prior email conversation is essential – which unfortunately you cannot access easily online. I head back to the hotel, had a quick sunbath before sitting down and looking at documents I managed to download.
In the afternoon, I make email contact with USP in Luganville and Norsup, as well as the Disaster Risk Management Officer in the Provincial Office in Malampa.
Today I have my meeting with USP - the coordinator of the university is lovely. She says she has a large intake this year – 183 students! I couldn’t help but tell her the number of students at The University of Liverpool.
I head back down to the Ministry of Land – after being told to head back yesterday. At the office, she doesn’t want me to see him but does say to go and see the Environmental Officer in the Provincial Office. After a quick coffee and sending a few emails I head to the office. He’s away on another island and isn’t back until Thursday next week, then he flies straight to Port Vila. I am disheartened but I have seen the Red Cross building behind the office to head there.
Until now I’ve struggled to find any NGOs in Luganville – they seem to keep them all hidden in an NGO plot of land. I speak to Red Cross about their work, and afterwards, they point me in the direction of World Vision. There I meet the disaster risk officer who used to work in Port Vila with the Ministry of Climate Change! We have a long talk and he says I should come back to the Pacific Islands to work. He then points me in the direction of a training centre opposite. This centre has been working with handicraft makers to make them and their work resilient to climate change.
After an unexpected afternoon, I head back to the hotel.
It’s a Friday, a girl I had met here (Maud) told me that she had met the Mayor of Luganville in town and that he wanted to show her the islands. She wanted me to come with her, so I agreed – what a way to see the islands. He took us to a blue hole – there are 3 blue holes in Santo, each one has beautiful blue water. In the afternoon I am treated to a pizza – it was delicious!
Today was the day for an adventure! The night before Claud (a friend I had met) and I had decided to hire a jeep and go up to Port Orly. Maud had decided she wanted to cycle to Port Orly, Claud and I thought it would be a great idea to get up later, not cycle 65 km and meet her there. Claud had a party in the afternoon so riding by jeep would be the quickest way. We got up early and left by 8 am. On the way, we didn’t see Maud – who said she was leaving at 5 am. We reached Port Orly and were told that there was no entrance fee and we could use the kayak, beaches, and facilities for free. It was low tide so we walked out to an island close by. As it started to rain we headed back to the café for a cocktail. It was a lovely few hours, but it was time to go home. On the way home, we decided to go on the in land road. It was all fine until we got lost. We managed to find the hydro-electric power plant and see a lot of cattle. Eventually, after asking the way to town many times to locals, we found the tar road (the coastal road) and headed home!
I spent my last night in Luganville eating cake and celebrating the owners birthday.