Thursday, July 12, 2007

Turning 12 Continued..


My apologies for no pics of Fiji yet. The internet connection here is somewhere on the “Gilligan on a human-sized hamster wheel” scale in terms of power and speed. So I am not able to upload pictures to the website right now. Rest assured that I have them. Lots. Even the spider. I will get them posted when we are in NZ – probably around mid July.

Turns out Fijians do the 12 year old birthday party thing much in the same way they do everything…that is generously and with incredible hospitality.

The guests (about 20 people including half a dozen children) arrived at our house about 6pm - carrying food that they had spent the better part of 2 days preparing. Chicken and lamb cooked in a lovo (underground oven) so tender and juicy it was falling off of the bone, salads of cukes, tomatoes, carrots and lettuce, a ceviche-like salad of fresh fish and vegetables but with a spicy mayo sauce, and nouma which is a dish of spinach and onions cooked in coconut cream. Crazy delicious. The birthday cake was home made double layer chocolate.

After everyone had eaten, the ladies cleaned the kitchen. I almost wept with gratitude..

Then Anna was asked to sit in a chair which had been decorated with palm fronds and flowers. Five young ladies and one young man did a couple of “items” for her. Dressed in brightly colored clothing with bracelets and anklets made of leaves, they stood on the deck and performed. They danced to funky rock with hand gestures and kick turns. Then they sat on the floor and did a rhythm piece pounding on the ground and clapping in turns. It was fabulous.

And then the band boys played. This is a group of 6 men with guitars and ukuleles who sit in a circle, crossed legged on a palm frond mat. In the center is one giant bowl kava.* They played a selection of island tunes and for some reason an inordinate amount of 70’s ballads – but with an island twist. The harmonies were incredible.

At the time for the cake, the guests went into the kitchen and lit the birthday candles. Then we all proceeded out to the deck singing the traditional Fijian birthday song with the musicians bringing up the rear - playing their instruments in perfect harmony.

And many of the guests – people whom we had just met – brought Anna a birthday gifts. It was incredibly generous and we will never forget it.

*Kava is a mild narcotic drink that is traditional in Fiji. It is made by pounding the dried roots of a pepper plant and mixing this powder with water. It is the color of clay and taken by the half coconut shell full. It tastes slightly bitter, but mostly watery - and one half shell-full makes your lips and tongue numb. Drinking kava is a tradition, and has a certain ritual about it. When you are offered a shell you clap once in acceptance and take it down in one gulp. Then you clap three times in appreciation. When you can’t count to three anymore, you’ve had enough kava.


Blogger Allan said...

And may i ask how many Kava's did the Rock star have?

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