Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 9, 2010 Sevusevu

September 9, 2010 Sevusevu

Something we anticipate in our upcoming travels to a village on an island is a ceremony called Sevusevu. The following is blatantly stolen from the handout given by Waitui Marina:

"Upon arrival to a village or inhabited island, a gift of yaqona, also known as kava, is normally presented to the village mayor, the Turaga ni Koro, or to the village chief, Turaga ni Vanua, if he is present.
The preferred presentation is ½ kg of unpounded Kava root for yachts. The Sevusevu is a solemn ceremony where a village man acts as a spokesman for the villagers. If the Sevusevu is accepted, the chief will welcome the visitors to his village offering protection and all reasonable assistance within the village boundaries. If you plan on fishing for dinner, please ask for permission as well. You may be invited to join in around the kava or grog tanoa (bowl). It is customary to drink the bilo (cup) of grog in one long swallow. When you are presented with the bilo, you clap once. When you finish the contents, return the bilo and clap three times."

Since Tonga, the outfit I can wear to town has been reduced to one. The dress code is very conservative and women in general have their shoulders and knees covered. Here in Savusavu, most women are in skirts and they are quite pretty. Like a school uniform, I wear my purple skirt and long-sleeve white shirt every day and it's quite simple. Men also wear a long skirt called Sulu as it is probably disrespectful to show up in surf shorts or speedos. Mike and Jamie each bought a Sulu and we can't wait until we see them in action.

We just had our last curry dinner in town and returned. Indulging in some New Zealand ice cream, we sat by the docks and listened to Pate's band playing music. Pate is a multi-talented man who works at Waitui marina who took Mike and Jamie out spear fishing to his village. We learned many things about his family and culture. He has a teddy bear kind of face that displays pure kindness. What gives him that special mellow character? Could I possibly learn such qualities? After we said good-bye and rowed away in the dark, I felt sad about leaving. Savusavu has been a special one.


September 3, 2010 Savusavu continued

September 3, 2010

Mike and Jamie are out spearfishing for wahoo with a local dude. So far, we are loving it in Fiji. As the days go by, we are finding out more about this island, Vanua Levu, and this place has a lot to offer. Yesterday, we went on an all day inland road trip with Totem. We hired a very reliable driver and drove through the lush rain forest in the morning, had lunch at a beautiful eco-agritourism lodge (Palmlea Lodge), and spent the evening at the sugarcane festival in Labasa (pronounced "Lambasa").

We stopped at a Hindu temple and found Ganesh (a popular Hindu God) in pink. With some difficulty, thanks to Behan, we visited the Wasavulu ceremonial site. This is a spot in the Lonely Planet guidebook, but not many locals seemed to know where it was. After giving a gift of kava to the chief, a young woman gave us a tour of the site, right in their backyard next to a family cemetery. Pointing to a flat stone, the woman spoke, in a matter-of-fact manner, "And here, we used to sacrifice people on this." Next, pointing to a stone with a divet in the middle, she said, "And here, the head was put to drain the blood to drink." In the meantime, the village women have fallen in love with the blond kids on Totem and can't seem to get enough of hugging them. Watching their interactions, I had a hard time picturing the stabbing a "cannibal fork (available in handicraft stores)" into another human being.

At the Sugarcane Festival, I ate cotton candy and got on sketchy rides together with six-year-olds. We were invited to sit with the locals under a tent to drink kava and hang out. We were told that Fijians consider Tongan kava to be "a lady's grog" and people in Vanuatu apparently consider Fijian kava the same weak sauce. We had enough time to watch one performance of music and dance which was super awesome before returning home at 11:30pm. The people we've met were genuinely friendly and easy to make friends with.

Good food at a cheap price is a welcome change from French Polynesia. It's interesting that whether you go to a Chinese or an Indian restaurant, the menu is identical: chicken/mutton curry, chicken/mutton fried rice, chicken/mutton chop suey & chow mein. And the curries are delicious!