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Island Paradise Essay

1011 words - 4 pages

Steam leaked from the glistening tarmac. Rain clung to my clothes and beat upon the runway - Vanuatu! A twanging song reverberated from somewhere. The singers seemed to laugh, rather than sing the words. I found myself grinning, and soaked, headed towards the terminal.Inside, my bags felt suddenly leaden. Clothed alike in gaudy floral shirts, a group of men stood to the side, playing to the tourists. I had envisaged the voices floating from a distant, teeming village. Families whispered among themselves, giggling, pointing at the quartet. Perhaps I simply wished to hear it, but the voices now seemed flat, struggling for buoyancy.My reverie was interrupted by a squat, bulky Vanuatan.“Please,” he said, smiling, and wrested my luggage from me.Outside, I climbed into a bus. It had seat-belt holders, but no seat belts. Bumping along the road, puddles gleamed red and green, reflecting the neon lights of shops and clubs.The hotel! What had I expected if I booked resort accommodation?Muggy forests?Green villages?Blocky statues of octopi glared at me as the bus entered “Le Lagon”. It seemed the band from the airport had been whisked to the resort. Fixed smiles plastered their black faces as they served us drinks. A thick guilt swept over me. I had not yet seen a Vanuatan who was not serving a tourist.Was this an independent nation or an Australian colony?The porter showed me into an air-conditioned room. There was a bed, a shower, a fridge. Remove the lagoon view and here was my flat in Australia. Not bothering to shower, I crumpled onto the bed, the bleating of next door’s television lulling me to sleep.Vanuatans seem to have a morbid aversion to seatbelts. The taxi that carted me into the capital was particularly special. Its upholstery had been patched with sticky tape!Villa did little to allay my suspicions that Vanuatu would soon be subsumed into an Australian empire. At the markets, the price tags were in Australian dollars, everyone spoke English and the advertising looked Western - only ten years outdated.Some culture, however, was revealed. Stoic, angular masks jutted from stalls and local cuisine waged olfactory warfare against all within a fifteen-metre radius. People constantly waved and said hello. It was a refreshing change from the city; most think it’s cosmopolitan to wear black and look depressed. Yet, the West is persistent. Junk littered the stalls - shells whose outsides had been carved to spell “Vanuatu”. What was wrong with the shells? The women wore billowing, shapeless dresses, introduced by missionaries to quell males’ baser instincts. Ominously, the markets were flanked by a supermarket to the south, an ice cream vendor to the west.A man walked towards me. He had a leaning, stumbling gait and wore a singlet and trench-coat.“Like a nikliss?” he asked.“Sorry?”“A nikliss”. He opened his trench-coat revealing a bag of large, plastic necklaces.“Oh no, no...

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