Friday, November 14, 2008


if you've been in fiji for longer than five minutes, you've been invited to drink "cava."

cava is a substance that comes from the root of a tree before being pulverized into a powder. is then placed into a cloth (read: old rag). ..the cloth is then submerged in tap water (which, by the way, you've been repeatedly warned not to drink).

below: the cava/rag is being kneaded (by hand) in a large ceramic pot. ..the water turns brownish, kind of like the color of bad, weak coffee.

the jury is still out on whether cava is actually legal, because it reportedly gives you a "high."

certain former u.s. presidents might state: "for the record, i didn't chug!" ...but you know...

anyway, it is too bad that cava doesn't taste like bad, weak coffee, because that would be better than what it does taste like: muddy water -- with a hint of rust. ..deeeeelish!

the drill goes like this:

1. you sit in a circle, as the cava-meister (in our case, mala, above) scoops cava from the pot into a drinking bowl. (note: a "shot" is a small bowl, a "low-tide" is a larger, half-full bowl, and a "tsunami" is a large bowl, filled to the brim). ..below: a "low-tide."

2. when you are cava-ready, you clap your hands once (signifying that you are fine with ritualistic behavior), and the cava-meister hands you the bowl.

3. you shout a loud and thunderous "bula!" (in an effort to convince yourself that this is all okay), then

4. you chug the cava, then

5. you pass the bowl back to cava-man, then

6. you clap three times (signifying "thank you!"), then

7. you encourage others to do the same, then...

8. repeat

the real reason why you drink cava is to be polite, since the villagers offered it. ..(you know, when in fiji...)

..some people reported feeling "tired," others reported feeling "wobbly," and still others said that their lips and tongue went "numb." these are three states that i wasn't particularly keen on achieving.

the only thing i felt was "strange," sitting there on an island in the dark, listening to music and drinking watered-down mud with the locals.

note: on the second night, i politely passed the bowl on to the next backpacker newbee, eager to watch them chug, cringe, and then smile and say something like "it's good!" before their mouth goes numb.

...only in fiji :)

left: kuru & mala whip-up the cava.

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