For my birthday this year, I bought myself a trip to Vanuatu. It is a small, island country in the South Pacific that I would have never imagined going to but I am grateful that I did. When I studied abroad in Costa Rica, there was a part of me that felt really guilty about going to a place that, on the surface, seemed less fortunate than the country from which I come. Vanuatu, instantly, reminded me of this. The roads are damaged, the buildings dilapidated, and the pace of life is much slower. All of this contrasted with a harbor that is various shades of blue, verdant hills for miles, and a smile on the face of the people that is of genuine happiness. For me, the people made Vanuatu. They are incredibly friendly and carry themselves with a sense of inner peace that those of us from the "developed" world will never be able to have. Whenever I travel anywhere, the most important adventure for me is to see how people really live. I don't need to stay holed up in a resort or be constantly entertained by sights and sounds, I like to see real life. In Vanuatu, I had the opportunity to visit three local villages and it was eye opening. 78% of people in Vanuatu are unemployed but not because they aren't capable of working but because they are completely self sufficient. They live off of their land and use it for every aspect of life. Many homes are, by our standards, shacks. Some sleep on the floor with only a mosquito net to cover them at night but they aren't poor and they aren't meant to look like "charity cases". These are normal people living their lives and happy with it all. On one day, I was walking through a market and some ignorant woman who had come off of a cruise ship stopped a local and asked him, "If you could choose, would you want my life or yours?" and he just looked at her confused because, I am sure that he thinks that our lives are bad. Sure, I do not want to sleep on the ground but to go through life with a simplistic approach and manner is to be envied. There is no mad dash for money or power. There are no deadlines and social ladders to climb. As long as the sun rises and the food is plentiful, life is good. Beyond all of the people watching and social observations, I did get the chance to go buggy riding through the rainforest and abseil down a 180 foot cliff. I was surprised with myself when it came to the abseil. I had zero fear. I am not a chicken but I am no daredevil yet I just walked to the edge of the waterfall and down I went. I think it is safe to say that Vanuatu is a place that is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I saw and experienced what I needed to there and I am happy with it. For me, seeing a new place is better than any material object and I happy that I was able to experience Vanuatu.