Cyclone Pam takes heavy toll on remote island of Vanuatu

March 18, 2015 1:16 PM

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Cyclone Pam takes heavy toll on remote island of Vanuatu

In 1995, I made the first of dozens of trips to the remote South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, whose name means “land eternal.” At the time, I was in search of kava, a plant used since antiquity to promote tranquility and relaxation. Formerly a registered drug for nervousness in the U.S. until the 1950’s, kava had been sold in the 1900 Sears & Roebuck catalog.

Vanuatu, as it turns out, was the origin of kava, and the epicenter of kava culture. Every day in the afternoon, the native people of Vanuatu gather to pound the fibrous roots of the kava bush, mixing the mash with a bit of water, straining out the fiber through a cloth, and drinking the beverage fr...

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