Trying Tannese kava is quite an experience. If you haven't already tried kava, it's a strong herbal drink made from kava root that is a major component of traditional Melanesian culture.
It will be served to you in a coconut half-shell. It tastes like dirt and plant roots (no surprise there), or somewhat like brackish bathwater. Don't be fooled by how easy it is to gulp down. After a few minutes, you'll be heavily sedated and wonder how this innocent concoction could have had such an effect. Tannese kava is known for its potency, so be careful how much you have in one sitting. I had two small shells-full, after which I immediately felt like I'd just had a pain-numbing injection at the dentist. I wobbled back to the truck and for the whole rest of the ride home talked incessantly to my fellow travelers about yachting, which I had never done up until that point and have not done since. I was a little embarrased the next morning.
The Black Sand Beach on Tanna Island is amazing... We only saw a small part of it while doing our 4WD Tour but it was great to see.
The 'sand' has come from the volcano. It's the first black sand beach I had ever seen and I loved it!
The village people in Tanna are wonderful. :) They are very friendly and extremely welcoming.
We did a tour around the island in a 4WD and the whole way the kids were yelling out hello and running along side the car. Although some couldn't speak English they still waved and smiled...
Most villagers have 'grass huts' as their homes - they are so well built!! I loved them! Unfortunately many were damaged by Cyclone Ivy in February 2004 so we saw a lot of damage when we were there...very sad...
A visit to Yakel village (or "custom village" as it is commonly known) provides visitors with the opportunity to experience traditional ni-Vanuatu culture untainted by Western influence.
For 2000 VT (about US$18), you are permitted to walk through the village and you're given a warm welcome by the villagers themselves. The homes are all leaf huts, and pigs and chickens roam about freely.
When I arrived, there was nobody in the "residential" part of the village, so I just had a quiet peek around. Everyone was up the path a short ways at the communal gathering area.
In the communal area, the women had spread out a number of beautiful arts and crafts for purchase. It appeared that the men were behind an enormous banyan tree drinking kava. The tree itself had a brilliant little tree house built into it.
After a few minutes, all the men gathered out in the open and began singing and dancing. The women soon joined in. Everyone participated--young, old, male, and female.
One word of caution--you may find yourself accompanied by a bus full of package tourists. This happened to me, and although I have nothing against large tour groups, I hadn't expected to see one here.
I had to pay 1000VT (app. US$9) to visit Yakel.
The beautiful White Grass Plains of Tanna. Famous for being home of the wild horses that roam free.
Such a beautiful sight to see!
Not even our driver knew why they called it the White Grass plains when, obviously, the plains were very green.
When we were en route from our hotel to hike up the famous Mt. Yasur volcano, our driver in his 4 x 4 drove past the White Grass Plains. We could see the wild horses and herd of cows in their natural habitat from afar.
The driver asks us, "Would you like to take a picture of the horses?" Of course we couldn't pass up this photo opportunity, so I thought he would just pull up on the side of road.
Come on! This is Tanna and we're in a 4 x 4 !! He immediately made a hard turn right into the fields and chased the horses down!!
Soon we were face to face with those beautiful creatures!