Vanuatu Factoids

4 08 2010

vah-noo-AH-too

A lot of people do not know where Vanuatu is. A lot of people have not heard of Vanuatu. In fact, Randy (Mr. teacher of Geography) had not heard of it.

Who HAS heard of Vanuatu? The local dive-shop instructor has! Can you see why?

This scuba picture also shows why I will be sticking to the surface.

Aside from being a fantastic scuba/snorkel site (I am buying and bringing my own snorkel gear), Vanuatu is known by some as being the location for Season 9 of Survivor.

Considering I will be dressing like the locals (long skirts and baggy-ish t-shirts) and eating island foods (potatoes, rice, fruit, etc.) I do not foresee me running around with a Survivor bod.

There is an active volcano on one of the islands. Yeah, there are multiple islands, about 80 of them. I have no idea where I will be living and will not be able to tell you the exact location on this here blog for security purposes. But you can bet that once I get a mailing adress I will update you and you will be free to mail me things like hot showers, hamburgers, and queso. Thanks in advance.

I will be learning to speak Bislama. Here’s a bit of a summary of the name, found on the Peace corps info site.

The term Bislama, according to some authorities in Pidgins, comes from Beach-la-Mar or Bech-de-mer which is boiled, dried, and smoked flesh of sea cucumber used to make soups.  Bislama grew out of the whaling trades in the Pacific, mainly in Polynesia and Mironesia during the first half of the nineteenth century then gradually moved west to Melanesia.  At the same, the discovery on sandalwood in Erromango, Tanna, Aneityum, brought more traders to Vanuatu.  Because sandalwood particularly prized in China and used in burial ceremonies and religious rites, it was the subject of export and trade in the southern islands of Vanuatu.   Another activity that further developed contacts between  Europeans, Polynesian and Ni-Vanuatu beside the whaling and sandalwood, was the Bech-de-Mer export industry, hence the name Bislama.

I’m actually super pumped to learn it as it is relatively “easier” to learn than a lot of languages and has a bit of a limited vocabulary and sorta-simple grammatical structure.

Examples:

Hello Halo (Hello)
Bye Tata
Thank you very much! Tankiu tumas! (Thank you too much!)
What’s your name? Wanem nem blong yu? (What name belong you?)

Pretty cool, eh?

Weather is going to be interesting. With the possibility of natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, and tsunamis. I am kind of looking forward to the tropical climate though. As found on Lonely Planet:

The dry season – from May to October – is cruising time: sparkling days and pleasantly cool evenings. This is Vanuatu at its glorious best – festivals and sporting contests are held, beaches call. For walking, the cooler period from June to August is better. Speaking of cool, it’s advisable to take some warm clothing year-round.

November to April is the wet season, with higher temperatures, heavier rains, and mosquitoes. December to March is cyclone time. Vanuatu averages 2.5 cyclones a year.

Some things that might take more getting used to:

Traveling by small ships and puddle jumpers everywhere.

No A.C…..Or electricity most of the time….Or running water.

Giant bats, actually called Flying Foxes or Fruit Bats. Along with other large, crawling creatures.

More to come!

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