The village in Fulaga
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Tue 16 Sep 2014 23:48
Let's catch up from the day before yesterday, monday. We took the boat and followed Windarra and One White Tree (from Halifax Nova Scotia with Ross and Diana) back to the passage. There we anchored close by and jumped in the dinghy to catch the slack in the tide.
For Swedes that do not live with the tide, the tide goes up and down (well that you know), when you come to the end of a cycle the current stops, as the entire atholl is going down, all the water has to pass through the openings in the reef, that creates a magnificent current.
So if you want to dive or snorkle without being swept away you go when the tide cycle is turning. We jumped in the pass and it was the best snorkeling we have ever had. Imagine the best possible salt water aquarium with absolut clear visibility and fish, fish, fish! Andreas spotted a turtle and they followed her or he (who knows) for a while. Ellinor and I followed some white tip reef sharks as they were sweeping around. Big school of fish was hanging above the magnificent unspoiled coral. The water was so warm we could stay in for ever.
As I dived to see what was under the corals I spotted a big lobster. I told Karl (on Windarra) and he went there and took it with his speargun (you are allowed to spearfish if you just snorkel).
That was probably the biggest lobster we have ever seen. And we had it for dinner, four adults and four children and could just consume half of it.
It was probably half a meter long without antennas, and the body was huge.
After the snorkeling and hunt we steered towards the village, or actually the shore were there is a track to the village.
As Salsa was the only family not officially welcomed and granted permission by the chief we dressed up in our new clothes and went ashore. There we were greeted by Solki who took us to the village and introduced us to the chief. We took off our shoes, and came into a big hut where a group of elderlies sat in a circle. We sat down crosslegged (we may not show our sole of the feet), and the chief wanted Erika to sit next to him, closer, closer...
Solki held our Yangona, and started to talk in a way you felt was a traditional speech, and the chief nodded saying Aka between each sentence.
We had to look down and just listen. The Yangona (that is a Kava plant arranged like a flower bouquette wrapped in a newpaper that we brought as a gift to be accepted, it is the traditional way it is done here) was rotated in the hands of Solki who suddenly threw the Yngona to the feef of the chief. He in turn had a speech and accepted us. I had to drink kava with the chief. When offered you clap your hand, drink the whole coconutshell and give it back, clap your hands. It is important that you clap with curved hands as to create a hollow sound, the chief tried to teach Erika as he thought she should know it....
After that we were assigned a host family, this means they are your representatives in the village and that they are responsible for taking care of you. Our couple is Mini, he is a wood carver and his wife Serlote who seemes to do almost everything, snorkeling for food etc etc.
They live in 2 houses, one is the kitchen and one is the sleeping house. Their living house is a bit different from the rest since it is built in wood.
Most houses in the village are built in corrugated steel, it makes them look odd because the villagers have built some of them in the same manner as they probably built the huts before.
The walk to the village from the lagoon takes about 20 minutes and it takes you to the other side of the island where the village is facing the ocean. Nobody so far can explain why the village is on the unprotected side of the island.
The village is very neat, well kept, clean and simple. The most modern feature are solar panels that just have been installed with the aid of goverment workers that have been on the island for 14 days. Yesterday they were done and a big feast was held in their honor by the entire village.
The party started at 8 o clock in the morning and lasted til 1 at night. That might sound like a crazy thing but what we attended from 11 in the morning til about 3--4 in the afternoon it was a nice and slow pace celebration.
All get food in the big village hut, women dressed in bright colors serve plates with soup, sweet potatoes and kasava is layd out like pieces of bread. They teach us to eat mussels and sweet potatoes. The women chat and laugh and the men are gone to drink their kava and smoke cigarettes.
Soon Im invited to sit with them and get a coconut shell of kava. One of the men speaks good english and he wants to know where we come from and how we got here. The village chief sits quitely watching whats going on in the village, his hair is big and gray and it reminds me of the picture of the "alfa male" but he looks more intelectual with his reading glasses and soft look. The men take passes on the same coconut shell and one of them is pounding roots for more kava and another is putting the roots in a piece of cloth and keeps pressing the water throught it to get the kava out.
They used to chew and spit the roots out instead of pounding and I can only say Im thankful that is over....
Soon the women joyn but have to sit on another mat. A sevusevu is held in honor of the men leaving, more Yangana is passed back and forth, speeches are given and the men get a pile of gifts from the village (their monetary system is very small, trade is the thing). They get hand woven mats, used wine bottles with coconut oil, 3 kava bowls made in wood (wonderful wood work) and more.
The women put flowerornaments around the mens neck and then they start to sing a song in choir. A leader chants and all fall in and it is very beautyful. Then as you think the experience is at the top they start to hit rythm instruments and it all takes a very exiting route.
Women, one of them is Serlote, our host, are dressed with fresh leaves around their wrists and around their hips and they start to perform a dance. They are not always synked and the audience laughts out loud everytime they fail. Well this makes you a little bit confused at first.
Then you realise they do things differently here...
You might like this.
After the womens dance (wich they perform sitting) three guys dressed in some kind of warrior outfit with palm leaves and a a spear in one hand and a symbolic knife in the other start to perform a very serious advanced warrior dance. Looks really good, then comes the surprise, a woman in her sixties with bright red hair suddenly picks up a long stick and she takes a flip flop in the other hand (symbol of the knife) and she starts to mimic the guys, trying to look as serious as they do. The entire audience cracks to laughter and it is just an outrage of humor. The guys do not care, just keep doing their serious dance wich makes it even more fun. After a while another woman comes up and starts to smear everybodys face with baby powder, well this is the first time the warriors try to defend themselves, they do not want to get their faces white...
OK now you think you got it...
Well next thing, Russ from One White Tree has a guitar with him and he is asked to perform. When he steps up another guy goes with him and as he performs the guy tries to mimic his english and singing. The audience cracks to laughter.
A guy from the village follows and uses Russ guitar and starts to sing a song, it is very slow compared to Russ, he has no tempo.
A big woman steps up and stands close to him and makes a beat with a long tube that you hit to the ground, that creates a deep bongo sound.
She starts to yawn and she waits to hit the beat for much longer than he actually plays, she pretends she almost falls to sleep and she pretends that she hit her toe whith the tube and she is one of the best comics I have seen for a long time. People laught and laught and even after the song is over it is hard to stop laughing. I think is was many many years ago I have seen so much laughter and laught myself.
So it went on and nobody was left alone on the scene. Even when we thanked the chief and exused that we had to leave due to tyred children and I was passing outside the mats, the beat was so good I had to take some dance steps, well the attention was on me directly and the red haired women jumped up and we started to dance to the villagers enormous joy. They laughed! And I gor an great flower ornament around my neck.
As we said good bye to our hosts I asked Serlote if this is always like this? And she responded "this is how we do it, we like to have fun".
Another thing that was obvious is that they never let anybody be alone, they always made sure you had company or you knew what you wnated....
Well as you might understand we have some pictures to show...later