Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
77Trip End Ongoing
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We were taken into the church, a plain building decorated inside with displays of vibrant tropical flowers. After being shown around, we were asked to wait inside whilst the welcoming ceremony was prepared. The children displayed their awareness of customs and rituals; when one woman moved to the door to get some air they bared the way with their arms to make sure we were not going anywhere near the ceremonial preparations. Soon they were distracted when one young boy arrived with a coconut; despite having no common language, the local children were soon challenging the tourist children to a game of touch rugby, with the coconut as an impromptu ball.
Soon we were asked to come for the kava ceremony. The elder men of the village had prepared a drink from kava rots we had brought and presented to them. We knelt on a tarpaulin, men in front and women behind. We were presented in turn with a wooden bowl of kava; etiquette demands that you drain the bowl, which will then be refilled and presented to the next person. The elders took their drinks first and then it was our turn. I had heard terrible things about the taste, but in the end it reminded me of slightly spicy cold washing up water. Not delicious, but not too bad. I took a second bowl, then it was up to the men to finish the bucket of kava in front of us, whilst the women continued exploring the village. We were called back when it was time for the meke- men, women and children welcomed us with songs and dances,
Later that evening it was time for high adrenaline sports. I'm talking gripping, edge of your seat, white knuckle excitement. It was time for... Hermit crab racing! You may laugh, but this had to be one of the most thrilling events I have attended. We made our way down the beach to collect our hermit crabs (which had mysteriously congregated in a small patch of sand). Once caught, we had to carry the crab back to the bar, preferably without being nipped, where it would have a number applied to its shell with tipp-ex. The crabs were then placed in a bucket which was inverted in the middle of a circle drawn out in the perfectly raked sand. When the bucket was lifted, the race was on! My crab was number 32, a feisty fellow who was almost climbing out of his shell entirely in the run up to the race (miraculously I survived unnipped). He did us proud, speeding his way to the outer circle to make it through to the semi finals, then seeing off all competition to secure his lace in the final before seizing a triumphant third place, and winning a $10 bar tab for me and a free trip back to the sea for himself. The Grand National and the Melbourne Cup cannot possibly compete with the excitement of crab racing.