Well, this beats the A12. If I were at home, I would be drinking my morning coffee in our fifth-floor flat, watching and listening to the traffic hustle its way along the busy road and junction below. The trains would be rolling in and out of Newbury Park tube station taking thousands of commuters to work in busy and noisy central London. I’m not at home. In fact, I am a long way from home.
It’s 5.30am and the sun has just come up. I’m sipping fresh black coffee grown locally on Tanna — a volcanic island in Vanuatu. There’s no milk, but I’ve put in plenty of sugar to compensate. We’re stood out on our balcony at Surfside in the Pango area of Efat, Vanuatu. There’s a strong, cool breeze coming in off the ocean and the tide is in. Behind us the moon is still high in the sky while off to the left, the sun is rising over the horizon painting the clouds in a soft pink hue. The waves are breaking just a few feet below us.
“What more could we possibly ask for?” Kia asks.
“Maybe some milk,” I say with a smile.
Jet lag has ensured we’re up early. We arrived at two, yesterday afternoon, after a very long journey from London via Singapore and Australia. In total, we spent about 24 hours on a plane and it took nearly 36 hours from take-off in London to touchdown in Port Vila via three continents. We were exhausted and in desperate need of a shower, but most importantly, we arrived safely with our luggage and, apart from some spilt rice and curry on my trousers on the second flight, without any mishaps.
After take-off in Brisbane I fell asleep and awoke shortly afterwards to turquoise reefs, sandy beaches and green islands beneath us. Checking our flight path, I assume these were New Caledonia but I can’t be sure. Our first glimpses of our destination were pretty dramatic but it wasn’t all blue skies and dreamy white sands. It was mid-afternoon, cloudy and raining.
After a rather lengthy queue at customs, a smile and a stamp from the official, we grabbed our waiting baggage from the conveyor belt, quickly exchanged some dollars for local currency (Vatu) and headed outside to grab a taxi to our accommodation. We found the island to be tropical, lush and green, warm and humid but with a cool ocean breeze blowing across.
When we arrived at the hotel, there was a minor mix up: we may have to change rooms for our third night but Samantha, the Australian owner, tells us “no worries”. We trust her to set it right and so we headed to our room. It’s right on the beach, airy and cool with a great view. The roofs are thatched and the décor simple – just right.
We were absolutely shattered so after a quick shower and a short stroll along the beach, we decided to take a quick nap and get up at 6pm for our evening meal. That didn’t quite go to plan. Twelve hours later, we wake after our “quick nap” and here we are – the furthest we’ve ever been from home. The first day of “our trip of a lifetime”. This is it. I can’t quite comprehend it. This morning, we’re sat out on our balcony watching the sunrise across the Pacific Ocean and smelling the sea air. If this is a sign of things to come, then… well, what more could we possibly ask for?
We’re here and we’re happy. It’ll take a while to sink in but you know what? No worries. Let’s go and have breakfast at the beach house.