Vila’s current population is somewhere around 12,000. This is now the Big City. I find this funny, in an overstimulated kind of way. I don’t think the number of vehicles on the road or people on the street has changed, I think it is just me that has changed.
The first night I was in Vila, I was in shock. I went to dinner with a few other PCVs. There were enough of us around the dinner table to make for a few little conversation pockets. I was unable to participate in any of them because I couldn’t keep track of any single conversation. I have lost my ability to track a conversation if more than one is going on in English. I’ve gotten better over the last week, but I still find myself trailing off in the middle of sentences and being distracted by what someone the next table over is saying. I’ve lost my ear filters.
Going to the Mama’s Market was pretty intense, too. The Mama’s Market is a sort of busy place anyway. Last time I was there, my eye kept sticking on the stacks of live crabs, the piles of coconuts, the nangi on a skewer. This time, I found myself struck by the sheer number of people walking around and how many of them were white. The crabs barely registered a second glance, the coconuts weren’t even worth the first glance. I still look at the nangi because they are tasty. They are like buttery almonds. So good! The avocados the size of my head were pretty exciting, too.
I think the hardest part about being in Vila is looking at all the possibilities of food and only being able to eat four times a day. As Jake said after his first meal back from the island, “I can’t wait until I’m hungry again.” I ended up repeating restaurants, not because there aren’t enough restaurants but because I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know where to go. There are also some Peace Corps favorites that we just keep going back to. Jill’s Cafe has awesome ice cream. Chill does a good lunch special that includes a glass of wine or beer. The Port is pricey but worth it as a treat. La Casa has the best pizza in town. I’m not a fan of Olympic Burger, but that is just my vegetarianism speaking. Deli Cafe does French-ish type food and has an all9day pancake menu. There are options, but really, it is all too overwhelming when the only option I’ve had for the last 3 months has been “which house should I eat breadfruit in today?”
I’m heading back to my island now. There will be too much peace and quiet by comparison and not enough friends or family around. That’s ok, I’ll re-adjust in time to come back to Vila and do it again!