Gallery 2Navala Village, Fiji
This is the first evening of my first village homestay and so far all is well.
We began with a sevusevu (kava drinking - ceremony of welcome) then split up
into groups. I'm staying with Brent Schildt (who has a cold), Heather Keim,
and Dovanna Zehr. After the sevusevu we had lunch and a nap, then a presentation
on some aspects of traditional life with lots of clubs and stuff. Then a little
frisbee in the rain, which my host sister was really good at. Tonight there's
going to be a story-telling session for the group to hear about village history
etc. Our bure (traditional house) is very comfortable and is now filling fast
for supper (which is late, Fiji time again).
I'm writing by fluorescent light powered by a little generator that blocks the
door to the toilet. The generator services two bures for light and a stereo
on special occasions.
Navala Village, Fiji
It's midmorning here, the breakfast is done, the kids are gone to school, the
men to their fields, and I'm not really sure where the women are. By the sounds,
they might be down at the stream doing laundry. The old man of the house is
sitting inside, which is about all he does, and the four of us are sitting outside
talking and enjoying the morning.
The session last night was very interesting. We sat around the kava bowl and
heard the history of the village and asked lots of questions. The village is
an amalgamation of different clans begun in 1951 around an old school. The terrain
is rough enough that it used to take two days to walk 20 km to the nearest road
(now a road comes right to the village with bus service). The elders of the
village now hauled the materials for the school back in here by hand.
The village is Catholic, a "who rules, his religion" thing. They cross
themselves and say a common prayer before eating. We see some of the "culture
of silence" we have heard about in that nobody seems to question the one
religion. I wonder what a cross cultural with homeless people would be like.
All in all these people are fairly well off. The bures are spacious and pretty
comfortable except when we have to sit Indian-style for hours on end at the
ceremonies on the floor. All of the people are pretty well fed during this season
At the school we just put on a program for the kids. We sang the Hokey-Pokey
and Friend next to ya, and acted out the Dr. Seuss story about the Zax which
has delicious cross cultural implications. That story made me wonder about what
ways we as Americans might be being stubborn about cultural issues and in what
ways we are being flexible.
Vinaka => thank you
Vinaka vakalevu na cacana => thank you very much for the food
Bula => word for hello/welcome/whatever that Fijians say to tourists
Yadra (pronounced yandra, rolled r) => hello that Fijians say to each other,
say nisa first to make it formal