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Kava and birthdays

Written on: Friday July 18th, 2008

After a great night's sleep, I woke up eager to get to the country side and do some trekking.   Despite that hunger, I quickly found that there are not many places to go for only a day trip.  But something was recommended and booked, and fifteen minutes later I was in a 4x4 headed for the mountains of the sleeping giant. 

Two Aussie tourists were with me as the driver, Mike, brought us to the village.  The chief's son, Aaron, guided us through the tropical forest, explaining the different plants with special emphasis on which ones can heal you and which ones can kill you.  The forest itself was magnificent, even compared to the many that I have seen around the world already.  The information that we received was even better!  The village owns 5000 acres that it lives off of.  We learned of the tribe's history and saw the original cave in which the chief's family lived.  We heard the truths about canibalism and how it became an accepted part of the culture.  We tasted wild tamarind, lemon leaves and coffee beans while giant fruit bats flew and squawked overhead.  Eventually we made it to the waterfall and jumped into the brisk, mountain water.  Refreshing takes on a whole new meaning up here!

After making it back to the village, we were invited to a (what was my first) kava session.  This is a traditional drink that is made from the dried root of the kava tree.  It is ground up and mixed with water and used in celebrations.  Fortunately for us, our arrival to the village constituted a celebration!  From the main bowl a smaller bowl, or cup, is offered, after which time the recipient claps once and receives the offering.  It is consumed completely, without stopping, and returned to the pourer, while the others in the session clap three times.  Kava seems to be a mild narcotic, and after three cups I felt my tongue and throat become a bit numb.  As we walked to the village lunch that was prepared for us, we all discussed and agreed that we felt a bit more relaxed and tranquil.  Maybe Americans should drink kava instead of coffee!

Lunch was outstanding: fish caught in the mountain rivers, sausages, "spinach" made of local "elephant ears", fried eggplant, and Fiji tapioca, or casava root.  Everything was produced on their land except the sausages, and everything was excellent. 

The best part of the day is that we were invited back for the evening celebration!  Tonight is special, as two of the villagers turn sixteen.  The warriors hunted two wild boar and the women have been cooking them all day for the evening feast!  Needless to say, I happily accepted.  So tonight I will don the sarrong, sing and dance...and of course drink kava...with my new friends on the mountain!  I cannot wait!

 

From M on Jul 18th, 2008

Cool start, nice to see you got there safe. Now lets see some pics. Need some filler for N.Ulm hotel time. Have fun.

From Amy K on Jul 19th, 2008

It sounds like you're off to a great start!! I like all the details! I'm so excited for you...

From Sean Ward on Jul 19th, 2008

Excellent way to kick things off. Looking forward to reading more and seeing some pics.

From Dave on Jul 20th, 2008

Great updates. Keep 'em coming! It's sounds a lot more fun than Appleton!

From Lisa R on Jul 21st, 2008

Have some Kava for me too. When you get back to the states, we will have a Kava Party. I can get this stuff thru my Herbal contacts.