Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dirty Water, Anyone?

April 4th, 2006 (continued)

As we arrive at Papageno resort, the employees are on the beach, singing a welcome song. We wade through the water to the white sand, and are each given a freshly picked coconut with a straw in it. Not like the ones you buy in the supermarket at home, thats for sure! Our luggage is carried to our rooms, and we settle in a bit before heading for lunch. The 'dining room' is a large thatch-roofed enclosure with screens for windows. It contains a large eating area, the kitchen, a bar and a seating area with a library of books and games.

(Sara and Donna enjoying their fresh coconut milk)

Isaac, the general manager of the resort, has made us an itinerary of the villages we will visit, beginning with a village just next to the airstrip, then moving toward the resort, and then past the resort to the East. Isaac is originally from New Zealand. He is very friendly and quick to laugh. He has arranged with the villages to have the dogs ready for us, as well as assigned each of our 3 teams a 'guide' from the resort to come with us and translate where necessary. He has also arranged for a kava party tonight--where we drink the boiled kava root (apparently not unlike muddy water)--and dance and sing. [Note after the fact: they don't need the excuse of new visitors for this party--they are quite happy to have one every night! :-)]

We spent the late afternoon kayaking out to a reef and snorkeling. It was just amazing. I have only been snorkeling once before, and it was nothing like this. Coral, sea slugs, fish of all colors. Warm water and turquoise blue.

As the last of our supplies came over on a flight after ours this afternoon (our meds came from Suva), we will spend tomorrow organizing and dividing the equipment between the 3 teams. We will start out early Thursday morning with the first of our villages!

(The long, braided fabric is meant to point toward the chief in a true ceremony)

The kava ceremony was very interesting. It is the crushed root wrapped in fabric, and then soaked/squished in water. It absolutely tastes like earth. Not something I would go looking for to drink! You are asked whether you want 'low tide' (a small bowl) or 'high tide' (a full bowl). As the bowl is handed to you, you clap, say bula and then drink. And make a face as you choke it down! I noticed that even the guys from the resort had to clench their teeth--apparently it is not even an acquired taste... They say it is a mild narcotic. I got numb lips and tongue for my trouble. (Vo, one of our 'guides' in picture to right--we came to think of all the employees of the resort as friends)

(Sarah, Norma, Ben, Gord, Tanner left to right)

We were asked to dance as they played guitars and sang. You and your partner stand facing the same direction with your arms around each other's waist, and you basically just walk forward and back, with the occasional turn thrown in. Even the most dance-challenged could manage it. It was a wonderfully fun evening and quickly introduced us to the joy and good humour of the people of Kadavu.

('high tide')

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