Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Fiji! (7 of lots)

That night, after community dinner, we had a mock "kava ceremony" as we'd be experiencing this the next day.  Now, I'm still not entirely clear what kava is.  This because the "public relations officer" who was explaining everything to us had (1) a really strong accent, and (2) a gentle lilting way of speaking that made me want to fall asleep -- the combination made it impossible to completely follow anything he said in its entirety. 

Here's what I know.  Kava itself is a beverage.  You make it by taking... something... (taste-wise, I'd have to guess something in the turnip family, but that's just a guess) beating the crap out of it, putting it in a cloth bag, and then kneading it (through the bag) into a bowl of water.  You end up with water that is ucky looking, and has a slight, well, rancid, taste to it.  You drink it out of coconut-shell cups.  It is served in a ceremony -- something to do with welcoming visiting chiefs.  Kava ceremonies, near as I can tell, are what Fijian villagers put on for visitors.  Someone on our boat had been to a bunch of villages, and she'd been drinking that stuff everywhere -- because, you see, it is impolite to refuse a bowl of kava.

OK, so we all taste-test our kava.  (I look at the community bowl it is prepared in, the community cup it is drunk out of, the fairly dodgy-looking towel it has been kneaded out of .. and I think, yeah, glad I got that Hep A shot.)  We are told that after you drink your kava, you smile, and I can't help having one of those "Survivor" eat-disgusting-food-for-immunity flashbacks when I'm forcing a smile after downing that stuff in one gulp.

They also taught us some Fijian dancing -- a couples dance (I danced with one of the crew) which is kinda cute--you stand beside your partner, hold hands behind your backs, and walk forward (or back) swaying your hips together; and a variant on a conga line in which you just... held on to the person in front of you, walked to the beat of the music, and tried to shake your booty.


andreakingme said...

Ew. The kava part ... yeesh. (I called it a radish drink. I meant a TURNUP drink, okay?)

pegluh said...

kava be an herbal supplement type being here, but i think it's really a vegetable of some sort.

pegluh said...

PS: did you turn the communal cup around 3 times before passing it along to the next feller? 'coz you know, now you're betrothed! Congratulations!

nzforme said...

UPDATE ON THE SOURCE OF KAVA: I read on the in-flight mag that it is derived from the root of a pepper plant. I know you will all sleep better with this knowledge.