It all started at a kitchen table in 1996.
“We’re moving to Australia!” Our father broke the news to me. And we did move a few months later. Somewhere along the way, my sister learned about Vanuatu and became fascinated with going for years.
Along came 2014…
“I’m going to Cambodia!” I broke the news to my father. And I did. I quit my day job to travel and help a Cambodian-based social enterprise, and after hearing the news my sister promptly announced that I would also need to meet her in Vanuatu on my way from Asia to Australia. Her perfect opportunity to finally convince someone to visit this fascinating island with her!
This is how I know that Vanuatu is a real country. Despite my friends’ quizzical looks, strangers’ confusion, even my travel doctors’ shocking disbelief as she googled this unheard-of, “malaria-ridden” land, I promise you that Vanuatu is a real country. I know because I did meet my sister there and they did stamp both our passports to prove it.
But everyone made not be made for Vanuatu. Here’s a few reasons why you should not go to Vanuatu:
1. Don’t go to Vanuatu because the people almost never stop smiling, from the moment they sing and welcome you to the moment they wish you luck and hope you return. I’m sure nobody can genuinely want you in their country this badly, so just don’t go to Vanuatu.
2. Don’t go to Vanuatu because there is fruit in season year round that tastes like a tropical explosion in your mouth and has funny names like “corossol“. If you’ve never heard of it before, then it probably isn’t real, right? So just don’t go to Vanuatu.
3. Don’t go to Vanuatu because the water is so clear and turquoise that it feels like you could fall in and come out the other side looking like the blue koolaid man. Your social media might go into shock from all the hashtag paradise hashtag no filter that you find the urge to use. Unless you’re comfortable with things being so bright and blue that they don’t look real… just don’t go to Vanuatu.
4. But most of all, Vanuatu is an untouched Eden that takes some getting used to before you realize you did not accidentally walk into a photoshopped travel magazine. You will not turn the corner and suddenly find a hoard of backpackers or a strip mall or an overcrowded tourist attraction. So unless serenity, paradise, and maintained natural beauty are your kind of thing… just don’t go to Vanuatu.
Photo credit in this blog post goes to Sarah Steinharter.