Preparing for sevusevu
Friday 19th June 2015
It looks like the weather will finally improve at the weekend, and we now have Plan A in place for cruising some of Fiji. With over 300 islands in the archipelago, and limited time to spend here, we have to be choosy about which ones to visit. The Lau group of islands run down the eastern side, and only recently have boats been allowed to visit them. Their distance from the main islands and their lack of electricity to power media means that the people there have little contact with the modern world and continue to live very traditional lives. Although the islands lie to windward of our current position, we have decided we would like to visit a couple of them if the opportunity, weather-wise, presents itself.
So, in preparation for these visits, and indeed any visits to villages along the way, we have made some purchases. The first was for a sulu for Steve. This is a garment traditionally worn by Fijian men, in effect a wrap-around skirt or sarong, which he will have to wear when we go to a village to make sevusevu. This, you will remember from the previous blog, is the ceremony performed when a stranger wishes to enter a village. Why, you may be asking, do we need to enter villages when we will be sailing and anchoring out in bays. The answer is, that all land in Fiji is owned by somebody, and that ownership extends beyond the shore to the adjoining waters. So when we anchor in a bay, we need to request permission to do so from the village that owns the bay. We also need to ask permission to swim, fish, walk on the beach or venture anywhere further inland.
So we also had to buy some kava root to present to the chief. This has to be placed on the floor in front of the chief and a spokesperson asks him, on our behalf, to accept us into the village. If he accepts the kava, we are good. If he rejects it, we have to leave. If accepted, they then make a drink out of crushed kava root and everyone, ourselves included, drinks it out of a half coconut shell. Apparently it is slightly peppery and tastes like muddy water. It also has a mild narcotic effect, but we think you have to drink a fair amount to achieve this! Anyway, we have half a dozen bundles of the root on the boat now, and are ready for our first sevusevu.
Inside Prashad’s shop, bundles of Kava root hanging from ceiling. Kava root (or yaqona) being weighed into bundles.
Bundles of kava root or yaqona. Bags of kava bundles ready to take back to boat.