Can you imagine what happens when a diverse group of people are ruled as a colony by two major colonial powers at the SAME TIME?

In this case, the New Hebrides was controlled as a colony jointly by Britian and France from 1906 through to independence in 1980.

And that makes for a fascinating society here today.

For example, this morning I went to a French bakery and bought a whole heap of different yummy breads. I tried hard to avoid the display case filled with sweet delectables, and almost succeeded. The proprietor does not speak English, only French and Bislama. The staff speak Bislama, French, and English… a common thing here, as all 3 languages are “official” and all three are taught extensively in schools.

Then I went to the supermarket with the largest range in Port Vila (Chinese owners) and picked from a wide selection of French cheeses, various European salamis, and fresh-caught seafood.

Something that surprised me a great deal when we first came here was that they also stock generic chain brands that in Australia are only sold in the stores of the chain. Thus you can get Woolworths-branded items, Black-and-Gold (sold only in IGA and Foodworks in Australia), Carrefour brand (sold in Carrefour stores in France)… you get the idea.

And because there are a lot of Asian and Indian people here as well, there are whole aisles devoted to Asian and Indian foods.

Shopping is always a delightful journey of discovery as we try all sorts of things we've never seen before – even after almost 5 years in the country.

Besides all this there are Vanuatu-produced things like coffee, nuts, jams, pork and beef. Although they also sell fruit and veggies in the supermarket, we get most of ours from the local markets.

So after this I went to the market where there are literally hundreds of vendors selling everything from hand-woven palm leaf baskets full of taro to huge bunches of brilliantly coloured tropical flowers to live crabs. Today I needed only a pineapple, some fresh parsley and mint, choko, cucumber, shallots, cabbage, bananas, and a few skewers of fresh nuts.

Now, I suffer from asthma sometimes – usually a bout or two each year, especially in the dry season. So I dropped into a chemist. I had a selection of Ventolin to choose from – the Aussie ones, or the French ones that were half the price but with the same active ingredient. While I was there I picked up a couple of other things that would have required me to go to a doctor and get a prescription back in Oz, but here EVERYTHING is over-the-counter.

My wife Adeline has some specific medical needs, and there is a French pharmacy who can get almost anything overnight from Tahiti. Good to know.

I find all this mix-up of cultures and products exhilarating at times.

Maybe you would too, when you include Vanuatu as part of your Plan B planning. If you gain citizenship (even by investment) or permanent residency, you can fly in now, during the pandemic when Vanuatu borders are closed to non-citizens and non-residents.

Currently you can purchase citizenship or permanent residency without having to visit Vanuatu.

Discuss your options in a short consultation:

Lance in (diverse) Vanuatu