Vanuatu is not a least visited country, tons of tourists come here, both by boat and plane. The reason? It’s awesome.
Now whilst there are a lot of reasons to like Port Vila, and Vanuatu, one of the best things about the place is kava.
If you’re unfamiliar with kava it is a kind of root that grows through the Pacific, that gets turned into a juice, well a liquid, that when injested makes you drunk/high. Well actually more high than drunk, but without any of that pesky paranoia.
It has been drunk for centuries in the Pacific, and has a lot of ritualistic mystique to it. One example of this in Vanuatu is that “the best” way to serve it to chiefs is for it to be chewed by a pre-pubescent virginal boy before you drink it. I wonder if that’s how Prince Andrew had it served when he was here? As always I digress.
Kava bars, or as they are called nackamals are everywhere in Port Vila, often simply placed in shacks, with people going every night to get their kava fix. When you get to one you order by the unit of currency, so a 50, or a 100, with you comparing how much you’ve had at the end of the night by saying the monetary value you’ve consumed. A cup is known as a shell, as they would previously be served in a coconut shell.
How does kava taste? It’s horrendous, it’s like muddy water, and it’s hard not to vomit afterwards. But the kava bars know this, so water is served freely, as well as Pirt Vila street food, or as they call it in the kava bars washemout. Washemout literally means to wash away the taste of kava, and can be noodles, chips, cookies, chicken, or all manner of snacks designed to clean your palate!
And does kava make you high? It does, although it’s hard to quantify the buzz. it’s a bit like hash in that it mellows you, but without any kind of sleepy element to it. ITS WEIRD, but indeed far from unpleasant.
Port Vila street food, and kava are not only one and the same, but by far the best way to embrace the culture of Vanuatu.