Drinking kava at the "red light district" of Tanna was a unique experience.
Every house along the road with a kava bar displays a red lantern at the front door.
What is kava?
It's a very popular intoxicating drink made from the roots of the Piper methysticum scrub (also called the Intoxicating pepper).
Kava drinking is a ritual amongst the Melanesian culture. You drink at sundown, and it's usually practiced only among men in these dimly lit kava bars.
Dress Code: Wear whatever you feel comfortable in while drinking the juices of chewed up roots! ;-)
The thought of consuming this muddy liquid that was prepared by humans chewing spit up roots, didn't sit too well with me. Watching the "bartender" stir the concoction in a dirty bucket didn't enhance the mood either.
I was curious of the effects, however, so I did take just a "sip" from the bowl.
Suddenly, the lips started to go numb!! Oh no!! Not the LIPS !!!!
I closely monitored my intake of the substance since my "Partner in Decadence" was already on his 4th serving!
Somebody had to make sure he got back to the hotel to be taken advantage of safely! ;-)))
Along with our co-guest from our hotel, we were the only 2 females in the group of men at the Kava Bar.
Nowhere else in the world would I step into a strange, dimly lit setting with a group of men sitting in the dark......staring into space.......and drinking a strange substance.
But when in "Rome"...............
The traditional method of making kava is to have pre-pubescent boys carefully wash the roots, then prepare them by chewing them into a mushy substance and spitting the hard bits onto leaves.
The "mush" is then placed in a container and mixed in with water.
The liquid is a muddy color .......not very appetizing at all.....but the upside is that it's chewed by pre-pubescent boys and not by old men with rotten teeth!
The effects of the drink is that it causes a numbness all throughout your mouth and throat, and slight hallucinogenic emotions.
It's a whole sermon, and during this time of "male bonding," all the noise and conversation should be kept at a minimum.
A kava veteran can consume a minimum of 5 bowls full of this concoction!
As we stepped quietly into the bars, all we could hear was the "quiet splendor" of the men hacking and spitting in order to get used to the "numbness" effect they started to feel.
If you wanted to do something at night you could go to a Kava Bar for a drink or two. They are very quiet and laid back - nothing like a bar here. You will find kava bars in almost every village and all along the roads where ever you drive. Kava usually costs around 20 - 50 vatu each so it is very cheap.
There's not much in the way of nightlife on Tanna Island. You could try to find a kava bar but even those are very sedate. The best we could do was to sit out enjoying a drink while watching the sunset. ;)