Boarding the plane at Brisbane International Airport was exciting for the Vanuatu crew and officials. We were boarding a brand new Boeing 737-800 that Air Vanuatu took delivery of on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. It was the aircrafts first visit to Brisbane … we even had the fire trucks spray the aircraft as we taxied towards the runway. That was a new experience.

We landed late Friday night (11.10pm) safe and sound at Port Vila International Airport. It wasn’t a soft landing either! Thought the pilot would be focused on executing a soft landing because of the “breaking up” of the runway as reported by Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin. That was not our experience, we landed with a thud!

We had an experience at Port Vila International Airport that was so Vanuatu. We expected there would be a line of taxis at the airport that would be able to take us to our accommodation – no luck. Once we realised we were in trouble, I chatted with the transfer company that was taking two (2) other passengers to Chantilly’s on the Bay. After paying him Vatu3,000 we boarded the transfer coach with twelve (12) other people. Turns out it was one transfer bus for all the resorts in Port Vila.

We were all sitting … sweating on the bus about to leave and there was one couple standing on the curb as they shut down the airport. Turns out they were waiting for Evergreen Tours to pick them up. Our bus organiser went and helped the couple for the next 20 minutes, while we all sat sweating on the bus. He explained to us once the couple was sorted, that normally there is a line of taxis, but for some reason that was not the case tonight. He wanted to help “his friends”. That highlights a part of Vanuatu we love.

We checked into our room at Chantillys on the Bay just after midnight. A few weeks ago Trip Advisor had sent Darleen an alert to a deal at Chantillys on the Bay, pay four (4) nights @ AUD$199, next three (3) nights for free. We grabbed the deal straight away.

The air-conditioning was running in the room at 16 degrees, it was sensational stepping out of the humidity and heat into a cool room and climbing into bed.

Waking hungry, we wandered down to The Moorings for breakfast. Ironically where we ate breakfast was on decking under a natangura roof (grass roof), the same as we want to create at Mangaliliu. After a yummy omelette we asked for the name of the company that completed the construction after the cyclone – Island Constructions – we plan to have a chat with them.

Saturday morning after collecting a Suzuki Jimny from Europcar for the week, we picked up some basics from the supermarket. Darleen was thrilled to see Pauls fresh milk on the shelf! We grabbed some for our neighbour Bob as well.

Arriving at Mangaliliu and seeing our blocks, now cleared thanks to Bob and his team of local Ni-Vans was great. It gave us a much better feel for the what we have to work with.

We discussed our plans with Bob over a long lunch at his home, which looks great.

After lunch we walked around our beach block and went for a swim. The temperature of the ocean felt 28c. It was lovely.

Arriving back at Chantillys on the Bay, we grabbed two Tusker Lemons and watched the sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Tusker sunset, divis vanuatu

On Sunday after another beautiful breakfast at The Moorings we headed back out to Mangaliliu.

It was time for Darleen to drive. In all of our trips to Vanuatu so far, I have been the driver. Darleen jumped into the left side driver’s seat and off we went. We drove past the Mangaliliu turn off the main road travelling up to Havannah Harbour. We wanted to check out the amount of new development. We didn’t notice any new work. But work that was in progress on our last visit (November 2015) had progressed or been completed.

With tape measure and red and white marking tape (like you might see at an accident or building site). We marked out the lines of the beach block from front to back tying the tape at eye height on the trunks of trees, then finding the 30 metre markers from the high water mark, and measuring in four (4) metres to the front corner of our proposed bungalow. From that point we measured out the complete outer structure.

We duplicated this process for the bar and tapas building.

We have a vast amount of land to work with. The effort we are going to have to put into the gardens is daunting. There are certain natural features on the block, rocks and big trees, and an amazing tree canopy over the proposed bar and tapas and bungalow, and they are what we had hoped for.

We had big grins over our faces all day.

Returned back to Chantillys on the Bay for a relaxing dinner of tapas and Tusker Lemon watching another beautiful sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Scott in paradise