One of our favorite experiences was dining at Vatulo Yacht Club. Matthew and Mary provided us with a leisurely three hour lunch of local foods traditionally cooked. As our toes wiggled in the sandy floor and the rain beat down on the thatched roof, Matthew presented each dish with an explanation, most of which I’ve forgotten. I know there was taro with island cabbage, manioc, sweet banana, local chicken, tuna with chucko, snake bean stuffed with tuna, and kumera. Dessert was mixed fresh fruit that melted in your mouth. Matthew traveled to Paris, became interested in cooking and decided to open his restaurant in his native village. It truly was a memorable meal we won’t soon forget – and delicious too.
After lunch Mary gave us a tour of their garden next to the restaurant, one of their many gardens. She showed us local curry which looks similar to ginger root. She also showed us the mats she’s woven – traditionally used as currency. The dyed mats are presented at significant celebrations and worn only for ceremonies. They used to be worn as clothing. I bought a natural mat for $1,000 vatu (about $10 US) which now hangs in the boat.
Walking through the village we watched construction of a new community center. The road was full of children in tattered clothing inventing games in the dirt. Pigs and toddlers were free roaming as well.