19 09.248S 178 32.430E
Posting by Dennis:
Well celebrating your birthday in Fulaga was a real experience to say the least. It all started a couple of weeks earlier with ‘big mouth’ Barb asking what they could do to celebrate my birthday. From there the planning started by our host family and it grew into a huge party, Fulaga style, with me being the guest of honor, which I totally hate, and the entire village being there for the full blown kava party. We arrived in the village around three in the afternoon, as Ba, Suki and Uni (daughter in Law) were finishing up with the last of the decorations. Barb contribute some tacky balloons to the decorations which she had saved for such an occasion.
The first thing they did was re-dress me in a flower shirt and a equally colorful sulu, a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your waist and kind of knot in back on itself. This never worked very well for me because every time I stood up (which was often considering the amount of kava I drank) the sulu wanted to fall to the ground leaving me there in my underwear. They then put a very big lei around my neck of very beautiful, but very smelly flowers and it was massive (biggest I have ever seen). It was made by weaving the different flowers together. They had constructed a cabana, wrapping all the poles with palm bows and flowers, and at the head of it was a grass mat banner with Happy 55th Birthday Dennis Ommen woven on it. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was turning 56 (Barb thought it was hilarious and she said it wasn’t every birthday that one gets to be younger instead of older).
I was instructed to sit below the banner just in front of the large kava bowl with the other elders of the village. They then mixed up the kava with water and we were all given a turn to drink from a coconut shell. We were asked whether we wanted a ‘high tide’ (large portion) or low tide to drink. I wasn’t given the option, it was high high tide for me every time! We all sat around talking as three or four of the younger guys played guitars and sang. Then the elder of the village called out “Taki” and it was time for another round of kava.
After a couple of hours of this it was time to go into Suki and Ba’s dinning hut and we enjoyed a wonderful meal of local seafood dishes and even a baked chicken which was a real special treat. The Roast chicken was placed in front of me and nobody could take any until I had cut of my share first! I will never forget just how great the seafood was that Ba made. During dinner I was presented with some gifts. A beautiful miniature Kava bowl and a set of woven baskets. The young local that presented me with the Kava bowl also thanked me for the work done on the ‘youth’ fiberglass boat!!
As soon as we were done eating it was back to the cabana for more kava and chatting. As most of the elders had left they asked if Becky would like to be in charge of saying “Taki”. So of course she did and she did it often. So she is responsible for the way I weaved my way back to the boat (though Barb will remind me that Becky was drinking ‘high’ tides with me as well but just handled it a little better, young blood). We sat there talking to the locals and drinking until well after midnight and then we said our goodbyes and did the mile and half hike back to the dingy and the wet ride back to the boat. The next morning Suki paid a visit to our boat on the way to their fishing trip to see if I was ok. He proudly said that Becky set a new record as she outlasted and out-drank the music group. That had never happened before.
It was a Birthday to remember, that is for sure ( Barb knows it will be payback someday, some birthday, it’s coming !!). Lots more pictures of my party in our photo album but not any of Barb as she was taking pictures while Becky and I partied.