Over the last few years, investment in Vanuatu has boomed. It’s been estimated that the amount of cash in the economy is increasing by an astounding 150% per year. Compare that with the period between 1990 and 2004, when economic activity grew more slowly than the population.
But for most of the residents of this so-called paradise, little has changed.
Prices have increased somewhat, but curiously many of the more common expenses have not. Bus fares, for example, have not budged even though fuel prices have soared. Consequently, Vanuatu’s minimum wage has about the same buying power today as it had years ago.
That’s not entirely good news….
[First written in February of 2004. I’m reposting it here for posterity, and because it came up in conversation earlier today. There’ve been a few serious attacks against expats recently, including a murder and a particularly brutal rape. The perception among some is of a sudden uptick in violent crime. I recounted this story to suggest that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.]
The attack happened last Monday in the afternoon. It didn’t last long, but it left her with a concussion and a broken collarbone.
She was in her apartment, had been for a little while. She settled herself down at her laptop to write up some workshop notes. She heard a noise from the front bedroom, empty now because her friend had left precipitately after no one listened to her fears. She stood, not sure whether to investigate or flee. A man appeared in the doorway, and knocked her down hard as she started to scream. The broken bone immobilised her, so all she could do was scream as loud as she could. Her assailant fled within seconds.
And nobody came.