Hunks of junk at Million Dollar Point - Luganville, Vanuatu
I should not have had very high expectations, as the South Pacific is not known for its charming cities. I was misled, however, by the guide book which describes Luganville with a "sprawling main street with breathtaking ocean views at every corner..." Maybe in its prime Luganville was a nice place. But the dilapidated buildings, the remnants of WWII warehouses and the Chinese stores selling cheap knock-off goods are a bit of a downer for me.
You might ask, why did we even bother to sail all the way up to Luganville, anyway? There are a few reasons, the first being that the government only allows us a one month visa for the country and that expires tomorrow. We have decided, along with encouragement from the weather, that one month in Vanuatu just is not enough, so here we are extending our visas for another few weeks. This means that we will probably skip New Caledonia which I am a bit bummed about, but sailing to New Cal also means sailing into the wind for three days and personally, I think that sounds miserable. At this point it looks like we will sail straight from Vanuatu to Australia.
The second reason why we are staying in Luganville (for a few days anyway) is because there is great diving here. One of the best wreck dives in the world, the SS Coolidge, is right here in the bay. We were going to dive it today but it rained torrentially all night, which will make the visibility terrible. Perhaps we will get to dive it in a day or two.
Yesterday Mark and I went for a dive out at Million Dollar Point, which is a point just outside Luganville where, upon leaving the country at the end of WWII, the Americans dumped all their military gear into the ocean. The US military did not want to ship all the tanks, cars, bulldozers and everything down to lunch trays back to the States, and the French/British did not want to buy it off the US, so into the ocean it all went. I think the idea was, "If we can't have it then nobody can."
It is kind of cool and pretty depressing to see all those materials - car tires, tank shells, boat hulls, airplane wings, etc. - underwater. Coral has started to grow in spots and there are lots of fish swimming around, but it makes me cringe to think of the pollution it caused. I guess that is a running motive of war: waste, destruction, greed...
But I digress. There are lots of other cool things to do on the island of Santo besides dive on WWII wrecks, and hopefully when the rain stops we will be able to venture to check out underground fresh water caves and blue pools up rivers. We only have a few weeks left before we need to head to Australia; cyclone season (and the Austral summer) officially starts November 1, and I have no desire to be in the tropics for the summer or for cyclones.
I must admit that I am pretty excited to get to Australia. To be perfectly honest I find it a bit exhausting to always be a spectacle, to have people gawk at me as I walk through a village and to have to work so hard to communicate with people. I am looking forward to fitting in (so long as I keep my mouth shut) and possibly even having more people my age to hang out with. In the meantime, I suppose I should start working on my Aussie accent, aaiiiiii maaaiiiiite?