On my trip to town yesterday afternoon I realised how many things have become unremarkable to me.
First, because my car was at the mechanic still, I got a lift in with a neighbour (remember we live a fair way out of town). This occasion was only the second time I had met this particular neighbour, but it's an example of how friendly and helpful most (people here are
He drives a dual-cab Ford, so there is a short tray back. He stopped a few times and waved people walking along the road to get in the back. In Australia you can't even have a pair of boots in the back of a utility without a net over them. Passengers inside will get fined along with the driver if they are not wearing seat belts.
Here it's not only normal to see people riding in the back of utility trucks, even the police do it.
Unlike the town area where buses are plentiful, there are not many buses in our out-of-town area, and it's not uncommon for people to walk many miles. So my neighbour was doing the neighbourly thing, and "sevem leg" (saving the legs) of those people.
At the mechanic, I learned that the radiator repair has been done, but the 2-pack glue used to fix the hole had only just been applied, meaning I'd have to wait another 24 hours before I could drive it away. In Australia it would have been soldered. Here they fix it with what's available to get you going as fast as possible.
Next stop the pharmacy, where I bought a new box of anti-biotics to replace the one I had about used up after the cat-bite incident had caused an infection in my hand. In Australia I would have needed a prescription for that, here it's over-the-counter and no questions asked. They assume you know what you are doing and don't try to act like a nanny.
Then to the bank to sort out an issue I had the day before with an ATM. There were two banks involved. The day before I had been on-hold with the Australian bank for FIFTY NINE MINUTES before they answered, and then it took another half hour between several operators and lots more on-hold time before they said they'd send me an email which was delayed by 18 hours while their legal team checked the email to their client (me) before sending.
The following morning I rang the bank here in Vanuatu and they answered on the SECOND RING, gave the the answers I needed, then within minutes emailed me some instructions and how the issue would be dealt with.
After the bank I went to the local market. It was like Mango-mania as the mango season is now in full swing. I probably had over a thousand mangoes to choose from. I selected 6 mangoes, a cabbage, a bowl of limes, a large bowl of tomatoes, and a large hand of bananas... total cost 1,000 vatu or about USD 9.00. All fresh and organically grown. The cabbage had a few holes in the outside leaves because it was grown without chemical pesticides. I reckon that's a good tradeoff.
Now the supermarket, where I was a little surprised to see that all the supermarket staff were wearing masks. Then I remembered that a day or so before there had been 2 "border cases" of Covid where two returning people had tested positive in quarantine. The first such incident for about a year.
A very few customers were also wearing masks, but not many. Nobody remarked on either the masked or the unmasked. Yes, here it's considered a personal decision and none of anybody else's business. I had not observed any mask-wearing on the main street, or in the pharmacy or bank or market, so this was a response of the supermarket company.
My neighbour and I had arranged to meet at the supermarket. He turned up and we set off for home. Once we were out of town, he again gave several families lifts in the back of his little truck along the way. As he dropped me off he offered to take me back to the mechanic next time he went to town. .
So overall, a lot of positive differences in my experience of a trip to town compared to what I would have had in Australia.
Sound good to you?
Time to book a consultation and work out how we can get you purchased citizenship or permanent residency so you have the option of visiting or living here then.
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Lance in (favourably compared) Vanuatu