9-20 Weddings in Vanuatu are Still in Vanuatu

The first full bus.  It got fuller.

A few weeks ago (I’m really far behind on blogs, I’m sorry) a fellow PCV got married. The wedding ceremony was sweet, touching and short. The bride and groom looked radiant. People cried. The decorations were elegant and fit in around and among the tropical location beautifully. We ate, we drank, we danced, we partied. It was, all in all, a success. But straight up success makes for a poor story, so this blog is less about the wedding and more about getting to the wedding.

We met at Anchor Inn around 1 pm to catch buses. At 1:15, we found out that the buses wouldn’t be there until 1:30. At nearly 2:30, we were still at Anchor Inn. By we, I mean about 50 people. (It was not a small wedding.) After a short conversation with the now very stressed bride, they canceled the buses. We were to find our own transport.

Lovely lanterns in the tree

Telling a group of people here to “find their own transport” is like telling a bunch of bears to find their own honey. Out came the cell phones. Half the group went outside to flag down a bus, half called their friend/family member with a bus. After a brief burst of chaos, we reorganized. The cafe manager and a few PCVs emerged as the strongest leaders and started loading up buses. Loading the buses was a complicated feat of politics. The buses that had been called had to be filled if/when they arrived, otherwise it might spoil the relationship between the bus and the person who called. However, that required waiting for those buses to arrive while the other buses in the lot saw a good thing and tried to get us on their bus instead. I stayed out of it.

After about half an hour, I ended up on a bus with Jason, two PC staff and all of the staff from Nambawan Cafe. It was a crowded bus. Then we stopped to pick up the laplap and some more staff members. There was no way we were all going to fit on that bus, so we called a second bus and broke up the group. That left our bus full at 14 people.

We were having a blast playing music from people’s phones and generally goofing off in the bus. I mean, we were going to a party. We got to the really big hill by Lelepa Landing. All of us were happily unaware of how much weight we were putting on the bus. When the brakes and engine started smoking, we suddenly realized that loading 15 people in a van that is old enough to vote might not be a good idea. Especially once that van is pointed downhill on a curving road.

The driver stopped the vehicle on the shoulder by putting on the parking break, slamming on the normal brakes and turning the van a bit sideways. We all got out in a hurry. Which left us standing on the side of the road, half an hour outside of town, 20 minutes from our destination and an hour late to a wedding.

Joel provided music for the ceremony

The bus that had come to pick up the laplap and last few people saw us on the road. Rather than wait for it to go, unload and come back for us, we opted to pile in. (Because overloading the bus worked so well the first time, we thought we should do it again.) We fit 18 people plus a laplap on that bus. The laplap took up two seats. I made good friends with someone, who’s name I still don’t know.

We arrived at 3:30, an hour and a half after the wedding was supposed to start. We had time to get a coconut and a glass of wine before the wedding did start. I sat on a mat with the cafe staff, because it was more comfortable than the benches.

The wedding was beautiful. The scenery was stunning. I enjoyed myself. Everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves. It was good.

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