September 11

We’ve been having a lovely time here in Asanvari. Today was our third full day here and the weather has been fabulous. On our first full day we joined several other crews at the “Yacht Club” ashore for dinner and a “show”. The show consists of the local men and boys doing traditional dance routines and a “string band” which also plays during the meal. They served pork with a mushroom sauce, a fabulous warm papaya salad which I got the recipe for and yams which were also very good. Yams are, by the way, one of the key staples of the Vanuatan diet and pork (pig) is a food they reserve for special occasions and is cooked in a traditional in-ground oven as it is all over Oceania (Polynesia and Melanesia and probably in Micronesia as well).  

The cost of this event was about $15 per person though they gave us a half price deal of Jonah even though he got the same plate of food everyone else did, which was nice (I ate what he couldn’t it was so good). Also part of the evening was the Kava, a semi-narcotic drink made from a pepper plant called piper mythesicum, a traditional beverage also consumed all over Oceania . The kava here in Maewo (and in Pentecost) is renowned for its strength and is like whisky compared to the kava drank in Fiji , Samoa , Tonga and elsewhere where it is more akin to weak beer. I had 2 cups of kava last year when we visited Maewo (and have drank it in several other places in Vanuatu as well) but for some reason on this night it hit me much harder then I expected. I was truly buzzing after the second shell and felt as if I had had about 8 rum and cokes. I had trouble speaking and walking! By the time I finished eating though most of the effects had worn off. In Samoa and Fiji I had tried kava and had consumed at least 6 or 7 shells at a sitting and barely felt a tingle. This stuff was truly in a class by itself.  

Yesterday I prepared a massive Indian feast including Rogan Josh (lamb), Shrimp Jungheeri (made with local fresh water prawns which I purchased from one of the villager for about US$3) and a potato dish which I made with local yams. I also made Indian breads and saffron rice of course and we had Martin and Christie (from “Wind Runner”) as well as a Peace Corps worker name John whom we met the other day here. John has been stationed on Ambae Island which is about 10 miles from here and has been at Maewo for a few days visiting. He had little food and was planning on eating peanuts for dinner (they grow a lot of peanuts here). We had a great time and the guests stayed till about 10pm.  

For the last few days, and also when we were in the Maskelyne Islands, Martin and I have been trolling for fish in our dinghies and have been coming up empty every time. A run of bad luck. The locals told us the fish don’t come in till about 4:30pm (we had tried in the morning at about 7am) and today we went out at 5pm and within 10 minutes I had a nice dogtooth tuna on the line which turned out to be at least 35lbs. We are going over to Wind Runner in a few minutes to dine on grilled tuna. We will have plenty of fish left and will be enjoying it for the next few days. Now that we know their habits we should have better luck here.