Vanuatu, the happiest country in the world


Is July 21, 2012. We just land in Nadi (Fiji) on the flight that left Los Angeles on July 19. It's 6 in the morning and the temperature is perfect. This curious phenomenon corresponds to DAY 4, the day that never existed, Our destination will take us today to the first country of the South Seas that we will visit, VANUATU

We all remember the feeling we had when we first arrived in an unknown, different country... That feeling has returned to us. Ultimately it was harder to get it, but that tingling, that feeling of facing the unknown, is again present, far from home, very different from the world we know. Even received by the semi-African-semi-Hawaiian songs of a dance at the Airport.

We have taken the opportunity to write a bit taking advantage of the airport WIFI (29 FJD), change the last USD we had left, stick a good breakfast (51 FJD) in a curious (and only terminal) created around a fast food stand. Almost without realizing it, our Air Pacific via Port Vila was taking off flying over the clouds that cover the area these days

A journey of 1h and 40 minutes, a quiet flight for a last nod and another small terminal of the Bauerfield International Airport of Port Vila, allows us to access this country for the first time that a traveler speaks wonders.

Outside Jenny awaits us, with whom we have contacted to see the possibility of catching the flight to Tanna today and try to stay in a Tanna Hotspring. Jenny is an old lady, who, together with her husband, has set up what she says is a "walking house" agency. We take a few flights to Tanna at 3:30 pm and explains that Robert will wait for us to take us to ... mmm ... somewhere to sleep. We have insisted that we want to be next to the volcano and where Cook landed at the time. It seems that he has listened to us.

As it is soon, we will not lose the opportunity to go down to see the Port Vila markets. They work here a kind of taxi vans that are circulating all day and those that you stop with your hand. Port Vila? Yes, there we go ...

In Melanesian, Vanuatu means "our eternal land" or "the island that rises above the sea" and there are many people who did not know what we were talking about to place it on a map when we told it to them. Some people know him best by his former colony name, New Hebrides. We are really talking about 83 islands with just 150,000 inhabitants spread among them.

The beautiful bay of Vila, 15 minutes from the Airport, is in the Southwest of the island of Efate, which already looks beautiful from the plane, with abundant vegetation, dozens of islets in front of its beaches. Already arriving in the city you can see that it has a multitude of historical influences, a mixture of the Vanuatus, French, English and some of the Chinese themselves.

Although we passed a large park like L'Independance, and saw a store that surprised us like Billabong, our stop was clear, on Kumul Street parallel to the bay, the city's main commercial, the fruit and vegetable stalls market

The first thing that surprises us, and that we read before, is the kindness and hospitality of the people of Vanuatu. Unlike in some Arab country or even in an African city, where you feel observed, sometimes uncomfortable, here the nearness is shown almost immediately. An Alo (hello) is bislama, local language, is received in each position with a smile.

The market is overflowing with people right now, although it does not seem to be the best organized in the world. Tubes of all kinds occupy much of the space, although without too much hygiene. It is really gratifying to stop to observe, at one of the tables in the background, how the locals sit down to eat something with extremely affordable prices.

This area is "reserved" so that some locals can make an impromptu "restaurant" just with a stove, some products and four dishes.

We are not going to doubt, not even for an instant, to take advantage of this opportunity to be one of them. Unlike in other places, nobody here observes you, you feel comfortable and always received with that smile. Do youSome fish and rice Paulita?

A "camping-gas", two pots with water, some seasoning and some strange fish, are enough to offer you your best delicacy for just 400 VUV each (we have taken money from an ATM at the airport, with an approximate change of about 110 VUV for EUR). We will survive this dish ...

If you ask us what we think is the happiest country in the worldWe would never have considered one of the islands of the South Seas. Maybe we would have said any Westerner, with access to all kinds of services, or some Nordic. Well, in 2007, Vanuatu was declared the happiest country in the world, taking into account the way in which the inhabitants face their lives and the impact they leave on the environment. Curiously, we Spaniards and Italians are the least

Happiness for a Vanuatu does not come from material goods. It is a strange concept that we are unable to understand. Their happiness comes from the fact that hunger does not exist, education prevents them from being in a bad mood and enhances their relaxation and peace. Technology (here 3G and mobile phones exist) serves to make life easier and more enjoyable, but having an IPOD, iPad or milk of those does not contribute anything. Even going further, here is the richest who gives more and not the one who has more.

Far from understanding all this, we stop another bus-stop or whatever they are called and ask you to stop at the airport on your route where they have already opened to be able to put the backpacks towards Tanna, although with some collision since they wanted to charge us for weighing more than 10 kg (weighing 13 and 15) and we told them that NOT OF COÑA. It seems that an angry gesture does more than any language because they seemed to understand us quickly.

So we briefly left Port Vila, capital since independence in 1980, already with some words learned from bislama. It is really a curious language too, since it is still a kind of mixture of English words, some French and poorly written, which seems to be that it originated in times when the ejaculation of the Melanesians took them to the forced fields of Queensland . Kai kai (eat), alo (hello), gud morning (good morning), tankiu tumas (thank you) seem more like Isaac's English than a language. But on top of that, they have more than 100 active dialects, each with their own ancestral rituals.

At the airport we also met a Spanish woman named Mar who works in Singapore. There is not much traveler, but she has taken a couple of sabbatical months and even knowing that we will try to reach Solomon Islands gives us a few dollars from there that she can no longer change. She has worked for half the world (Johannesburg, Dubai, Singapore ...) as a consultant for an important company and has been delighted in the Gizo area. There is no doubt ... we will try to arrive !! Time to fly (with payment of 200 VUV each of domestic fees)…

He flight from Port Vila to Tanna takes just 40 minutes. The propeller plane is quite large and barely moves ...

... you can see again the bay of Vila and the clouds surrounding the new island ...

... before leaving any wheel down the path of the blow they hit when landing. The pilot greets us. It is strange, a feeling that we were entering something more than an island of Vanuatu overwhelms us. We have read many legends about Tanna

When we consider several options, we doubt between going to see the Buenji of Pentecost and their ancestral rites, reach Ambryn, center of the black magic of Vanuatu, or even Holy Spirit, the one with the most history by Quirós and his discovery. Finally we opt for Tanna since it brings together the best features of Vanuatu, its incredible dances, its most ancestral customs and one of the most incredible spectacles of nature, the Yasur Volcano.

Tanna Airport reminds us of those airports in some Caribbean islands, where even the suitcases leave in the arms of the workers. Here Robert is waiting for us, an expert driver from the island of Tanna who will take us to the other end of the island, to Port Resolution, where we are going to stay. We are also accompanied by a New Zealand who travels alone.

At this moment we began to think that the roads of Africa were good. !! Mammaa Miaaa !! The dirt roads that cross the island are horrible. Around us we see small wooden and straw houses, schools, elderly and barefoot children waving, yes, never losing that smile that we already found in Africa. The similarities are abundant.

It starts to rain. The mysterious island begins to resemble an island of fear. We stopped at a store while Robert refuel. East curious supermarket It is run by two friendly vanuatus and a somewhat special distribution. Tomorrow is Isaac's birthday, so if we can't leave the room, candles and balloons won't hurt to celebrate (330 VUV).

The night falls on us when we only have 1 hour of travel. The dirt roads that cross the island have become the longest 29 km of our life. The journey is at a point where the car does not exceed 10 km / h, on a terrain that It has become a muddy, stony or impossible climbs in which sometimes you can not even intuit the path between so much vegetation. The rain intensifies.

There is no way to take pictures. Fatigue can also with us. Nothing can be seen from the front glass and Robert sticks his head out from time to time.

At one point, !! VETATION DISAPPEARS !! Around us there is a lunar spot only illuminated by the car lights. There is nothing at all. We are in the area of ​​influence of the volcano, or which tells us that there is less left for our destination, which we arrived 3 hours later.


Impossible to organize anything today. We have arrived in Tanna and Mar, the Spanish woman from Singapore, has told us that there is only flight to Solomon Islands on Tuesday. We had also signed on Thursday. We will try to go out there that day, but we will meditate tomorrow.

He Tanna Hotspring Bungalow receives us illuminated, but this illusion only lasts 2 minutes. The generator has failed. With the light of an old bulb, which looks more like a lamp, they accompany us, we don't know how or where there is a kind of wooden house with a bed surrounded by a mosquito net. We can't even go to dinner. We fall completely cast in bed. It's 20'00 and the happiest country in the world will have to wait until tomorrow so we can continue discovering it

Paula and Isaac, from Tanna (Vanuatu)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY:80 FJD (approx 36.36 EUR (and 1,530 VUV (approx 13.91)