Before I even left the tarmac and entered the airport in Port Vila I could hear the happy, bouncy sounds of a string band*. "We welcome you... we welcome you... we welcome you today!" The musicians were colourfully dressed with big smiles. They kept the children entertained while we waited in line for customs.
We felt welcomed. Genuinely, warmly, cheerfully welcomed.
Months later I returned to Sydney. I walk through long tunnels. No-one helps me with the children. I don't know which turn to take. There are so many pictures, so much advertising I cannot focus on the signs which give me directions. Suddenly, I am in the middle of a shop. I am hedged in by teetering, grasping piles of luxury goods; their prices are flashing before my eyes. I don't know which way to go. Where are my bags? Does anyone want to see my passport? Or only my wallet?
We'll give you a smile. As long as you give us your money.
Welcome to Sydney.
* guitars, bush-bass, ukelele, voice