There is a small group of us who have taken to doing the on-ship activities (silly things like baggo, shuffleboard, trivia ) on port days prior to exiting the ship because almost no one is there. And who can resist an almost guaranteed win of a fabulous keychain, or a pen, or a highlighter or luggage tags (cardboard, holographs that say either Royal Caribbean with a ship or “Are we there yet?”).
Anyway – I have gotten sucked into some group activities. Sometimes there is not an advantage to knowing other people on a cruise.
So, back to Port Villa – Vanuatu. The area saw thousands of US, Australian, New Zealand Troops and vessels, especially in Luganville during WWII as the islands served as a major staging base for the Allies. I am assuming that his experiences t in the region (during WWII) as a navy LCDR formed the basis for his 1948 novel Tales of the South Pacific. Who? James Michener.
What is noted in the histories is that the Allies hired locals for labor, scouts, guides and paid them. Not tokens but a living wage and treated them with respect not previously seen. When offering to sell all remaining equipment at the end of the war, the joint British/French colonial government at refused to pay pennies on the dollar in the belief that they would get it all for free as the rest of the Allies left. Not so as the tons of equipment were bulldozed into the sea.
Not having read all of this prior to my last visit, it made for a clearer understanding of the populations like and respect for the Yanks, Aussies and Kiwis and a rather unpleasant reminder that colonial powers acted in their own self interest mostly without regards to native populations.
I took a water taxi from the commercial port into town followed by a meander along those shops which happened to be open on Sunday (mostly the touristy junk). Finding a few post cards but otherwise nothing of interest I walked along the main road through town and back to the port. Lots of trash along the road. I passed signs for the local Museum that didn’t contain either directions or address. After entertaining myself with a search up and down a few local streets I decided to leave the mystery alone and continued on to the port. Most of the vendors from the last time were not there, but those that remained more than made up for their decreased numbers with cheerful sales pitches.
Since there wasn’t anything in town worth eating – and the challenge with getting off the ship late is that most cafes shut down between 1200-1500. Not so, of course, for the Windjammer and other eating establishments on ship.