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Published: April 29th 2012
We went to several villages on the cruise. To attend church, visit a school and have a feast We were asked to respect the culture by dressing modestly, covering shoulders and legs (to below the knee). Every visit included lots of singing and dancing and usually a handicraft market- at which we bought some lovely shell and coconut gifts (Neiria bought a rather fetching ankle bracelet) then we worried about bringing then back through biological security in New Zealand (you simply declare it).
Everywhere you go, even on the ship there was the traditional "Sevusevu" ceremony, where like the Maori culture you are welcomed to the village declaring you come in peace. The appointed Western chief presents the kava which is a root of the pepper tree or yaqona to the village chief who pounds the kava in a type of pestle and mortar, pops it into a muslin and sieves it in a large bowl. The chief drinks the first bowl clapping 3 times- a sacred number and passes it round the group. Everyone joins in as respect. We initially thought it was Spanish cava- no such luck. It's not alcoholic, it can make the mouth feel
a bit numb. Cheers!
The Lovo feast was cooked in the ground. The Meke was the traditional singing and dancing. The men put on a very lively dance involving grass skirts, palm fans and spears and the women sang and danced sedately. This performance ended with everyone getting up to dance and do a bit of a conga, which is good fun. Finally the villagers sang Isa Lei the Fiji song of farewell, a beautiful, soulful song full of harmony and meaning to them. The crew on The Reef Endeavour all sing this song as everyone leaves the ship to be transported back to the Mainland (usually by small ferry).
The handicraft markets sold many traditional craftwear. I got a lovely coconut bracelet, Everything is handmade. Shells are found on the beach. We were asked not to buy the larger shells like the conch- these predate upon the Crown of Thorns starfish which eat the coral, and they're becoming fewer.
Tradition has it that you buy a lei in the village, made of frangipani, hibiscus or busy lizzies. Wore it on the ship that night and threw it overboard at the end of the night. If you do this it
Taking in the washing
It starts to rain- heavily- for about ten minutes, it will soak everything!
means that you will return again. Several of the people onboard had returned several times. Unfortunately, Neiria noticed that the flowers were tied together with nylon!! Which we wrote on the evaluation- It's obviously quick and easy to tie the flowers like this but it isn't eco friendly!!
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