Here’s the outside view of a cooking area. They cooked over open fires using large pots.
There’s a little ginger and white striped kitten in the centre of the shot, can you spot it? There were maybe 6 or so of these kitchens dotted through the village with a few people gathered in each.
The other fixture of interest was the bridge where the village had grown beyond the little creek and this connected the 2 parts.
The logs were not even even (hehehe, sorry, I love it when you use 2 identical words with different meanings after each other).
We saw a group of villagers on the beach on the far side of the bridge obviously enjoying a siesta, or resting, in the shade of some trees. By this time we’d gathered every child we’d passed on the way through the village and many tourists literally had both hands full where the youngsters were holding hands with them. At the beach were yet more children who all latched on to us. They were so smiley and excited to see us. As we left, some of the parents insisted their child stay behind but others came along with us.
There were a few dogs in the village and I began to notice that they were all male. I didn’t want to know why this would be! Towards the end of our visit I did finally see a girl dog but she was the only one.
We returned to the grassed area where a large blue tarpaulin was laid out for us all to sit on. We had to remove our shoes and sit with the men at the front and the women behind. In front of us was a Village Elder who performed a kava ceremony. I won’t go into that here but I didn’t have any and I’d kinda read David his rights and asked him to refuse it as well. Despite what he’ll tell you at length I don’t often tell him what to do but from what I’d read on the web I really didn’t want either of us to indulge in this unknown (and apparently awful tasting) brew. I’ve heard it described as tasting like ‘dirt mixed with water’ or ‘peppery’ and that it numbs your entire mouth and throat. What I did know was that it should not be drunk if you are going to drink alcohol afterwards and I knew that David would be, the moment happy hour arrived. Matthias told us afterwards that kava is psychotropic and I was even more pleased we had declined participation.
From what I’d read on the web it was no offense to refuse to partake of kava but the Elder did seem a bit put out when David said no. In fact he was sent to sit in the back row with the women! I didn’t dare laugh at the time as the Elder had rather a scary face. Even the teenaged children had a little of it but I was still glad of my decision. And I was very proud of David for going against the flow too. I got quizzed by the Elder as to what religion I was because obviously he blamed that for us not wanting to have any kava. All I supplied was that I only drink water.
The Elder then tried to get us to chat, though he was obviously really uncomfortable with the idea, but he tried so hard. The thing was, we’d already asked Tivoli everything so there was nothing left to ask which left the Elder asking us desperate questions as they crossed his mind. His mind consisted of asking everyone their names, where they were from and how old they were which made one of the ladies literally squirm on the spot. I’ve never understood this myself but accept that a lot of women feel this way. He even asked one of the younger children how old his teacher was! And then the husband of the squirmy lady proceeded to tell the Elder that one doesn’t ask such questions of a lady. I could see the bonds between the nations falling apart.
During all of this the Elder summoned a villager to blow on a conch shell but the pained ‘chat’ continued. And continued. And continued. It really was dragging out and the Elder was left to suggest that the men may want to stretch their legs out forwards (from the cross-legged pose we’d been in) and that the ladies may want to put their legs to the side neatly. Then he even got desperate enough to mention where the toilets were because drinking too much kava can make you… They’d had 3 or 4 rounds of kava by now – everyone drinking from a single coconut shell. Shudder!!!
The Elder summoned the conch shell blowing again and everyone was starting to squirm with embarrassed discomfort, not least him. Then he began to apologise as it seems the sound should have brought forth a singing and dancing show for us, but nobody fronted. He told us that there had been a death in the village a few days ago and the people who should be coming were still sad, but he was also getting noticeably cross and found a few men to scurry around for him. He kept begging us not to tell anyone about ‘this’, by which I think he meant his lack of control over his villagers, but I was in the ‘inferior gender seating’ so I’ll take it that he was speaking to the front row hehehe.
It seemed an age and probably had been a good 30 or 40 minutes but eventually some people began to gather; the women wearing satin-like blue or pink tops and long skirts with a patterned apron over the top and the men, for the most part, wearing long grass skirts. The Elder’s embarrassment was over at last and he went to join the entertainment group.
The show was very good indeed with beautiful singing. I had thought they did hula dancing in Fiji but it seems not. And after the show we were invited to join in with a couple of dances – one of which was a congo line.
At one point one of the children, all assembled on a large wooden box-like structure to one side, must have done something wrong as one of the ladies raised a hand as if to back-hand the child hard. The tourists all drew in their breath audibly and I could just see a real international incident arising but, fortunately for everyone, not least the child, the hand was lowered again.
After this, the ladies of the village held a craft sale by laying out fabric squares on the
ground and placing their handicrafts on them for us all to see. In many ways this was rather uncomfortable as the ladies did not do much about hiding their dissatisfaction when you moved on from each stall. We were looking for gifts for the family but there were a lot of wooden miniature kava bowl replicas and woven grass items, none of which we could bring back through customs. We did see some pretty necklaces made of shells though and bought one each for Amie and Christina. There just wasn’t anything suitable for Nat, Dan or any of the grandchildren. We also bought a very pretty round floor mat. These were made of almost petal shaped pieces of fabric attached to a circular back by machine stitching. Whether they used hand-powered sewing machines or electric I don’t know. The mat I chose had a pretty flower on the fabric in the centre where all the others I’d seen had plain fabric or an indefinable part of a pattern. I could strongly feel the women around me wondering what that mat had that theirs did not, but at times like these you just have to ignore it. We couldn’t buy from them all. There were 2 rows of women one up each side of the grass, so probably about 20 in all.
And then, at last, it was time to go back to the resort. It was a very interesting day, but one that had dragged on for too long.
When we went for happy hour we found Opa sitting up at a bar table and happily joined him to chat as best we could. After a while Nadine came along with the Rummikub and we decided to move to a dining table so that we could play but as Opa went to get off the crazily tall bar stools, the top his leg stuck to the vinyl and it and him toppled sideways and landed with a crash on the wooden decking. His head was about 2 inches from a palm tree trunk, he was so lucky (if it had to happen at all). For a moment he lay there and in the dim lighting we could not see what damage had been done. Nadine rushed to him and I was yelling out “Can we have some light?” I called it a couple of times and the resort manager appeared from nowhere and I asked him to turn some lights on. His reply shocked me to the core as it was ‘no, that would only cause a fuss’ and then he disappeared. I was fortunately more concerned about Opa or I’d have told him what I thought about that idea! I was disgusted.
Nadine was truly incredible and took charge, checking Opa over while helping him to get up. A staff member was arriving with a kerosene lamp as he started to get up. I just could have cried to think that he may have been hurt but he picked himself up and assured us he was OK. We watched fearfully as he made his way towards the dining hall but he was walking well with the aid of his stick as usual. Nadine continued to check him over and then went to buy a new glass of wine for David, which had been spilled during the fall, and organised us all to be seated and begin our game. Opa seemed to have bumped his elbow but miraculously was completely fine other than that. He’d given us all such a fright!
We enjoyed our nice peaceful game with a huge sense of gratitude, and then the rest of the family joined us for the night’s dinner which was a Chinese banquet. This was very nice indeed with plenty of vegetarian foods included and dessert was actually more than 1 bite’s worth!
David and I saw Opa approaching for breakfast and very thoroughly checked out how he was walking, expecting some stiffness but the tough old thing strode out as usual, we were so relieved.
Today we climbed the stairs once, and did it easily. We were definitely getting used to them. Other than that we pretty much lazed the morning away. David sums up the holiday by saying that after breakfast it didn’t seem worth moving and in the end it made sense to sit there and await lunch. I guess it was this day he was thinking of, though I’m sure we went back to the bure and lounged around on the beach chairs and hammock. What a life!
Our bed looked particularly pretty today so of course I had to take a picture. David took to asking me if I had to photograph everything and of course my answer was ‘yes!’ It was the flowers on the bed another day that I’ve used as the header picture for this whole site. And you can see the matting walls of the bure in this photo too.
In the afternoon we decided that the time had come to hire some snorkelling gear so went along to the Dive Hut to be fitted out. It turned out that everyone had David’s sized feet and they didn’t have any flippers for him but we both got masks and snorkels and I got flippers. We took them back to the bure as the tide was out, which meant there was no water above the coral to float in to look down on it. Also, there was seaweed stranded over the top of it so nothing to see until a higher tide. We sat around reading until we decided that we now had the snorkelling equipment so would experiment in the shallows to gain some skills before venturing out anyway.
I found out what David had meant when we went to the Great Barrier Reef off of Cairns and he’d snorkelled there. It was indeed scary to stick your head under water and then breathe. I’d put my mask on, and the mouthpiece in, and consciously took some breaths through the tube while I was out of the water just to reassure myself that it was fine. I knew jolly well it was fine but sometimes we have to do things for ourselves eh? The couple of times I tried to breathe through my nose made me giggle as of course I got no air and the face mask just suctioned more tightly to my face. I was as ready as I would ever be and stuck my face into the water. I found it pretty strange that the mouthpiece was indeed water tight as it did not feel as if it would be but had no difficulty using it and felt very comfortable with the whole procedure.
We decided to go to the natural channel between the coral that the boat used and have a bit of a go there. Neither of us had flippers on, just the head equipment, and as we made our way out a little David scraped his shin on some coral and I scraped my knee. Obviously there was some there anyway! We bobbed around a little until someone in a small boat called David to come to him. As we swam towards the boat it became obvious that all he’d wanted was for us to get out of his way so he could come to shore but we were now both out of our depth and hastened to swim back in to shore. Being unaccustomed to swimming in the ocean and not having any fins this took quite an effort and we were both very glad indeed to have our feet back on dry land!
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