14Sep

Lovo Night

WP_20130914_040Saturday night is Lovo Night at Waidroka. It starts with a traditional Sevusevu ceremony, where protocol dictates you sit cross legged facing the chief and the large wooden bowl called the Tanoa in which the Kava is prepared.

Kava is a mild analgesic, diuretic and stress reliever, the consumption of which makes your tongue tingly, your body lethargic and your head fuzzy! It is made from the root of a plant in the pepper family. It is part of the way of life in Fiji in much the same way a cup of tea would be back in the UK and always involved in any island diplomacy.

Mixing-kava-in-the-tanoaTraditionally it is prepared by young virgins chewing the root into a pulpy mass and then spitting it into the Tanoa. However things have moved on a bit and you now buy it in powdered form from the supermarket! The powder is placed in a cloth and then dipped in the Tanoa’s water where it is massaged and squeezed until the beverage is ready, much like a tea bag.

When you are presented with the Bilo (a coconut shell cup) it is expected that you clap once with cupped hands, say “Bula” (which is a word with many meaning in Fijian e.g. hello, cheers and have a good day?) as a statement of gratitude and then quaff the whole lot down in one go like a very large tequila shot. It genuinely tastes like spiced soil, but it is incredibly impolite to behave in any way other than you have just enjoyed the nectar of the gods! Once finished you hand the Bilo back you clap three times in the same way saying “Bula” once more, shortly before your lips go numb.

WP_20130914_031It would seem that this goes on until all the Kava is consumed or everybody passes out, but after a bucket full of it I make my excuses and wander, a tad uneasily, over to see what is going on at the Lovo Pit.

The Fijian staff have built a fire around coral rock so that the pumice stones will retain all the heat once the fire is removed. The pyromaniac in me wants to get involved but I first have to shore up all the windows to my bungalow which happens to be next to the pit, and results in it smelling like November 5th in there for the rest of my stay.

WP_20130914_045Once the fire is removed all the food that is going to go into this form of earth oven is wrapped in banana and palm leaves.

These parcels are placed on top of the hot stones in the pit and everything is then buried in soil. The food is left to bake there for an hour.

WP_20130914_050A Bilo or two of Kava later I staggered into the main area where all the food was presented as a glorious banquet.

As usual I had eyes bigger than my stomach but couldn’t resist all the pork, chicken, fish and baked vegetables. I did revert back to the local beers to enjoy with my meal for a number of hours though.

Safe to say I slept well this night!

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