We intended to leave Port Vila the morning after our Kava Experience with Mark, but that did not happen. Why? Because we were still working our way through our Kava-Cloud.
In Tonga, in Fiji, everyone told us Kava makes you feel very relaxed - maybe even sleepy - but for us it never happened. In Tonga, we drank gallons of the stuff and nothing happened. In Vanuatu, I finally understood what they meant. While at the Kava bar, not only did my mouth tingle, I enjoyed a cloudy feeling behind my eyes; the tension drained from my legs and arms. Have you ever fallen into bed after a particularly exhausting day only to have your muscles melt away from your bones into a puddle on your soft mattress? That is what Vanuatu-Kava felt like to me. That night, I slept a sound sleep filled with odd dreams. The next morning, both of us woke up with zero-point-zero motivation to go anywhere.
Andrew calls it a hangover, and maybe it does feel that way for him. For me, though, there was no negative symptoms. I felt an extreme tranquility. You could call it lethargy, but in order to feel lethargy, I believe you must feel the desire for more energy. I didn't feel any desire to have more energy. I had zero energy, and I liked it.
Luckily for me, it had the same effect on Andrew. He woke slowly, and for the first time in my married life, I watched him putter contentedly with no desire to do anything else. He drank tea in the cockpit and enjoyed the morning. I marveled at the fact that his pre-set schedule called for us to leave today, but he was making no move whatsoever to go. I remained silent so as not to disturb The Beast.
This inspired me to do some google research on Kava. There I learned that it has been used as an anti-anxiety medication among other things. There are concerns about liver problems with sustained, high use combined with use of alcohol. Even reading this did not raise my heckles as it usually would; I'm enjoying the anti-anxiety effects of my Kava hangover! No worries, Mon!
By the next day, we were rested, rejuvenated and ready to start our island circuit. We sailed away from Port Vila, around the back side of Efate and pulled into an idylic anchorage within Havana Bay. Where we are anchored, it appears to be an uninhabited area of beach and jungle. Probably still feeling the Kava effects, we were immediately ready for bed. The air is deliciously cool, flowing through Sonrisa's hatches, and we can even both sleep together in Sonrisa's stren berth. 7:00 p.m. and I fall instantly asleep.
Soon, I’m inside a dream: there is an angry black and grey cat yawling at me with that creepy “mrrrrraaawww-rrraaaawwwwwwrrrr” cats give in the back of their throat. He looks me in the eye and then uses one of his paw claws to scratch my face off a photograph displayed in a frame on the piano upon which he sits. I am disturbed by this cat’s mean antics, so I wake up.
...But the sound of the cat does not stop.
I look around and try to figure if I am still asleep. No, I am awake. I crawl over the top of Andrew trying to get free of the back corner of the bunk. There are white lights flashing on Sonrisa’s hatches, slipping into the galley.
Imagine, if you will, the stereotypical sound of ghosts - only instead of “boo” they say “woo.” The call of witches wailing with that sharp edge of the back of their throat. There are many of them, and in between their high screeches, they devolve into cackles. All women, laughing. My heart starts beating. This is a scary sound! “Andrew! Wake up!”
Now, I’m worried. Because this is just a one night stop over on anchor, we weren’t swimming or going to shore or anything. We didn’t go to visit the chief or ask permission to stay here. In fact, we thought the place was deserted! But now, I’m worrying. (I guess the Kava has worn off.)
“ANNNN-DREW! WAKE! UP!” I hiss. “Are they putting a hex on us?”
Bleary eyed, Andrew wakes up, too. We both crouch in the companion way and listen, I strain my eyes through the dodger window to see if I can see anything. I can’t. My heart still pounding.
Then, I hear wise words from Mama, Rule #2: “People aren’t thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are.” I voice this rule to Andrew and say, "What are the chances they care about us enough to hex us? Probably not, right?"
“Yeah, I’m sure not.” We listen.
Then I notice, these cats have words, too.“AaaallllLLLLLIIIIllllluuuuuuuuulia” “JJEEEESssuuuus” Their voices raise and rise shrilly to the tops of the words, then slide down into a low round sound on the “uuuu.” I laugh.
"Did you hear that?" I ask Andrew.
"Yeah, are they saying Allelujia, Jesus?" He asks, sounding as surprised as me.
THEY ARE! I laugh a little to myself. They are mostly certainly not hexing us. I watch and listen for a while more, then crawl back in bed. Many of my feelings about Vanuatu are wrapped up in this one moment. Shaken, curious, strange. Vanuatu is unraveling convictions about several things I thought I knew. I can't put my finger on exactly what, yet. I lie awake, thinking. The singing (if you can call it that) continues. When I finally fall asleep, the weird cat does not return to my dreams.
The next morning, the beach returns to its quiet, lonely state. Looking through my camera lens I see a palm frond shelter and a triangular formation of wood. Nothing more. We set sail to move on to Epi.