Mali Day... Day 54

Today I woke up around 7am to the sound of the brekkie bell. I had a quick meal of fruit and a biscuit (read: cookie). Then I hung around a bit in a hammock. A little while later, Api and his brother, Tui, came around to pick us up for Mali Day on Mali Island, the nearest island to Vorovoro. At low tide, you can walk in between the islands. Anyways, Mai day is an annual gathering of all of Tui Mali’s villages to raise money for the churches on Mali. It was an amazing day. First, we sat down with Tui Mali in his home for a few minutes, waiting for church to let out. Then we went outside to the shelter and sat on the mats for a keri keri (an offering in exchange for something). We quickly moved on to the kava, which they call grog. It is the root of the kava plant, which is ground up with a large, heavy pole, much like a mortar and pestle. Once the root is ground up, it is mixed with water and ingested. Being a slow acting narcotic, it takes time to feel the effects. The only thing that I felt was a mild numbing of the mouth. The locals, however, have been drinking this stuff for a long time, and instead of growing immune to it, the exact opposite effect is experienced, as the kava builds up in their systems. Kava is legal in both Fiji and the United States, even for those under 21. While the ceremony was going on, we sat around and were fed cakes and tea, in addition to the never ending supply of grog. I wound up moving around quite a bit, meeting new people as I went along. After sitting with mostly men, I went to the back and hung out with the women of the tribe, as they called me over. Shockingly, we had more grog. Some of the children that were present taught me some games that involve clapping, much like ones we do in the US. One kid, Eduardo, was getting so annoyed that I was screwing up, it was quite funny actually. One of the women was absolutely fascinated by my white skin, she said it was beautiful. That’s a first, seeing as how everyone from the US wants to be as tan as possible. I was called for lunch around 2pm. I was told that it was quite a traditional meal, consisting of fish, tuapo (potato type root), curried potatoes, coconut milk & spinach salad and fish soup. I ate it all out of respect, but I could have done without the fish soup. We boarded our boat around 3:30pm and went back to V2 (much easier than typing Vorovoro). I put on my togs (read: swimsuit) and went for a little dip… I’m pretty sure that I saw a starfish. After swimming I kept my sulu (read: sarong) on for the rest of the day, since that’s what most people here wear. I helped prepare dinner, which was an amazing fried rice dish. The kitchen ladies, Emily, Juli, Nini and Cassa are so much fun, Emily has the most infectious laugh that I’ve ever heard. Later on, we had a cake, celebrating Steve’s 39th birthday. His son, Jacob, was attached to me most of the day; he’s a good kid. We sat around for a few hours and I talked to a guy named Steffen, from Germany. He’s a journalist and is down here for a story on V2. We were sharing a glass all night; he would drink alcohol, then pass it to me so I could use it for Coke. Luckily there was barely any alcohol in it by the time I received it. I could have sworn this guy was maybe 20 years old, but he is 28 and about to be married. Crazy stuff. Here’s a little bit of commentary from one of the American guys, Marc, from Chicago.

“We should have a pot farm here”… “Wait, no, then we’d have to have a pizza farm and a cheeto farm…” Some people just shouldn’t drink…


Catherine said...

Oh my Lord Sam, that place sounds amazing. I thought the kava would have been stronger than that.

What an amazing experience. I feel like I'm reading a magazine when I'm reading all your entries.

Anonymous said...

I dig the real words then your definitions-'togs (read: bathing suit).

You're really doing a great job on this blog. We didn't even have to pack.

Lurve, M