I guess you’d call it the the “National Footwear of Vanuatu”
What the Aussies call “thongs” and the Americans call “flip-flops” are known as “savat” or “slipper” here.
Bislama doesn’t really have plurals. So there’s no “Savats” or “Slippers” – the singular word designates one or a bunch of them.
Many NiVans have no other form of footwear. And of those who do, many choose to wear other footwear very rarely.
People wear thongs to church. Business men and women wear them to work.
For example, a good friend of mine who is an accountant and director of many companies, goes to his office wearing a short-sleeved open-necked shirt, long pants… and thongs.
In fact, after 5 years knowing him personally I have never seen him wear any other footwear.
I held out for a long time, choosing “Crocs” instead, but in the last 6 months or so I have rarely worn anything else. Oh yeah – I did try sandals a couple of times, but as I’d not worn them for a long while they no longer felt comfortable.
All general stores sell them, often in bewildering array.
So when you visit, you can pack a pair if you want, but there is no shortage here.
Speaking of thongs, you may have noticed I sometimes use the by-line “Your man with thongs on the ground in Vanuatu”
This of course is a play on the expression “boots on the ground” which although originally having a military context, has come to mean a person who is active in and with local knowledge of a certain place.
It nicely sums up my “Stand-In Concierge” service, where we do all sorts of things for clients in other countries who need something done reliably here in Vanuatu.
What sort of “something?”
A few quick examples…
Maybe you need something checked out to make sure it’s “as advertised.” This is important especially with real estate. You know how those glossy pictures on the agent’s website may have carefully cropped out the rubbish tip next door.
Recently I represented a (very) large American company with it’s negotiations with a local bank. Or you may recall the email I wrote about my adventures in the bowels of the Lands Department on a quest for information for an Australian client. Right now I am sourcing a reliable Chinese-speaking local to be a guide for a Chinese family when their purchased citizenship comes through and they travel here.
I have assisted clients to open bank accounts, get a driver licence, obtain or renew their Permanent Residency visa, buy a vehicle or a house… the list goes on, but you get the idea.
Something you’d probably do yourself if you were here. I (or one of my trusty team) act like a movie standin. We “Stand In” for the main actor (you) and do what you need to have done, to the same standard YOU would do if you were here yourself.
When you need to use this service, go here: https∶//lanceinvanuatu.com/stand-in-concierge-service/
Lance (your man with thongs on the ground) in Vanuatu