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The Port Vila food markets run 24 hours, 7 days a week, and all products are produced locally, ranging from; fruits, vegetables and seafood. Walking through the crowded markets is chaotic. With hundreds of stalls, all run by different families, you get caught up over which fruit or vegetables you buy from which stand. My favourite products in the markets were the clusters peanuts still attached at their roots, and the seafood. Most of the seafood available was local reef marine life, but they also sold live crabs. The crabs are tied up together in groups of 8, which try to escape.
Towards the back of the markets there are food stands where you can get fantastic homemade meals. All the women who run each stand are extremely friendly and will sit and eat with you – It almost feels like you’re having a family meal. They offer mostly curries, omelets and stir-fries with a huge cup of tea to go with it. I spent a few evenings eating in the markets and they were by far some of my favourite meals during my stay.
On some nights there is a local church choir that come and perform. While you sit and eat your dinner, all the local nivans join in on the singing, which creates an incredible humble atmosphere amongst the markets.
If you want to shop for souvenir items, the best place to go is the mumma markets. Located beside the food markets, numerous palm huts that are run by women from different local villages offer a wide variety of handmade items; necklaces, bracelets, anklets, straw bags, wooden carvings and local clothing. Each week I would venture through the markets to visit the woman I’d made friends with and was invited to help the ladies from each stall sew t-shirts, which would later be sold in one of the stalls.
If you are in Vanuatu and are wanting a shopping experience a bit different to that at home, I would highly recommend going through these two local markets. Apart from the items you purchase, the atmosphere and experience between these two markets is one of a kind.