The one time I’ve ever travelled with a friend she irritated me a lot of the time.

We both needed a break so we took the two and a half hour flight from Brisbane to Port Vila and spent five days in Vanuatu.

We chilled out in the sun, slept in, went horse riding, had massages and numerous piña coladas, and wore out our stomachs with the rich French food.

Every activity was done to her refrain of “I want to see the real Vanuatu”.

Here are some of the things we saw:

  • lush old growth jungle
  • people spending the whole day walking from one town to the next because hardly anyone had cars
  • the hotel staff with name tags of the names their French boss had given them because he couldn’t pronounce their real names
  • kids playing in the creek
  • sunsets over the ocean clouded in humidity
  • bluebottles on the beach
  • a town full of hundreds of men and boys between about 15 and 30 who had come to Vila to get jobs only to find that there were none
  • a very swanky hotel and a very crusty hotel (ours was in between)
  • food markets
  • touristy markets
  • the mid-thirties woman who worked at the hotel and was sparklingly intelligent and spoke perfect English who kept deferring our questions to whatever man was in the room, including the two teenagers who spoke almost no English
  • the hotel guests from New Zealand and the Cook Islands who assumed my friend and I were a couple and were offensively awkward until we found a way to reassure them our relationship was platonic
  • the clouds of humidity that filtered the sunset over the ocean every evening
  • a French tourist kid dancing in the dining room crying ‘regardez-moi!’ at her parents while one of the Cook Islander tourist kids danced and cried ‘look at me!’ at his.

None of that was real enough for her. I’m still not sure what she was hoping for.

We haven’t been friends for a long time. Now she’s probably one of those people who talks about being authentic.

About Sarah

Sarah Jansen is an Australian writer, artsworker and communications professional.
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