With so many amazing days while sailing round the world on Kealoha 8 , some
stand out more then others Â– yesterday was just so Â– having been invited to
a local village of Nacula in the Yasawra group of islands north of Fiji
,for an annual fund raising event we had no idea what to expect
Having been invited by our excellent local guide, George, to attend , we
set off in blistering sunshine at 09.30 to weave our way through the reefs
in our trusty dingy ( good reason to have a big one! ) Â– to be greeted on
shore by the locals . Â“Bula BulaÂ” the local greeting was said by everyone we
met and we returned the greeting. At GeorgesÂ’ house we changed into local
Fijian dress that he loaned us for the occasion , and watched as the
brilliant colours of the local ladies outfits , prepared for their special
day as they walked past his house . For this was the day that every woman in
the village presented to the chief of the Island their fund raising efforts
towards the building of the village hall – every woman was expected to have
raised / saved Fijian $100 ( Â£30) over the past year.
Now we knew we were special , what we didnÂ’t realise was that we 3 ( David
Holliday , Rosie & Nick) were the only guests at this event with 250 locals
, so after opening prayers , the men sat with the men , and Rosie with the
local woman Â– under the shade of a temporary cover – men and woman divided
by the enormous Kava Bowl .
Clan by Clan the ladies went forward to meet the chief, generally each clan
in matching dresses , Rosie got to join our hosts wife, Zulu Â– with compare
announcing the donations in a style not dissimilar to Terry Wogan in
Children in Need . All the while the younger men of the village served tea ,
juice , cakes , and Kava to the elders ( and us ) as we looked on and
applauded in the traditional Fijian Way – Our gift of Kava root was
gratefully received and sealed our fate as welcome guests . Kava is made
from kava roots or stems which are carefully mashed into the karva bowl to
which water is added.It is drunk out of shaped cocnut shells,small ,medium,
and large. In a surreal way the chief chose the music to accompany the
ceremony and much was conducted to the sounds of Johnny Cash. The local
ladies been enormously proud of their donations and dancing with joy as
they returned form the Chiefs table some taking pleasure in getting David
dancing to howls of laughter from all . What a colourful and fun occasion.
All the while George our guide , provided David Dimibly like commentary on
the proceedings , kindly leaving every 2 hours to check and re anchor our
dingy as the tides are quite big . All of the other elders were keen to talk
to us and swap stories of life and adventures We also toured the makeshift
outdoor kitchen , where whole pigs were been cooked in hot pit, and huge
pots of food were been prepared . The BBQ consisted of two railway line like
steels, with the logs burning underneath for a length of ten meters.
While all of the ceremony was in Fijian , the Island chief welcomed us in
English and gave David about 15 Seconds to think of a suitable response to
the assembled audience – ( as such an experienced public speaker he
managed flawlessly ).
Then to lunch with the Ladies and honoured guests ( us) heading into the
partly completed village hall for a feast of all things Fijian – David had
a seat reserved for him on the head table ( along with 25 of the female
village elders) Â– Having sat crossed legged on the floor for 3 hours we
were grateful to be found some chairs and invited to take food from the head
table as well as the buffet. Â– Forget your Hotel and tourist events – this
was a real feast, complete with young men fanning our food Â– to keep away
the flies !
What did lunch consist of? Yams, five types of fish, pork, chicken in palm
leaves cooked in the earth oven, rice ,curried vegetables, local spaghetti
with mixed veg,
Limpets which were huge just to name a few, all pilled high. Eaten with
fingers, followed by finger bowl which was a small washing up bowl. To
drink, fruit juice.
We eat European size portions, with great care, the ladies just had huge
portions,no wonder the Fijian rugby team are so big.
And so back to the ceremony where it was the turn of all the village men
to pay homage to the Chief Â– we moved to sit in the shade with George (who
was excused from duties to look after us) who continued to explain the
proceedings as various gifts from the village were presented to the chief ,
a mix of very serious tradition, formal Kava offerings ( unfiltered Â– yuck!
) and much hilarity at some of the local war dancing as the woman sought
to disrupt the men . Â– David & Nick were lucky to stay awake as the effects
of a morning drinking Â– was leading to Kava Fatigue .
But it was great to hear that over all the village had raised more then
Fijian $11,000 – $6000 donated by the Chief !
With the formal ceremonies over after a mere 6 Â½ hours of tribal events ,
we returned briefly to GeorgeÂ’s house for late afternoon tea with his family
– where they presented us with gifts of Kava Cups ( Small & Medium ) for
David & Nick and a traditional dress for Rosie .
Prior to heading back to the boat . as we walked the beach with our guide ,
he paid us an enormous complement and said we were Â“very good touristsÂ” .
Meeting the chiefs of each village we visited ( along with presenting Kava
root ) , asking permission to snorkel , and take photos . bringing gifts
for the local school and tee shirts for villagers, tinned food from the boat
Â– and donating money towards the village hall . Â– Apparently not all
Yachtsmen are as considerate .
So forget National Geographic – this is real Fijian culture , bought to
you by Oyster and the team on Kealoha 8