All Saints Day Celebration
26 June 2012 | Letonga Village 1 & 2
Today I felt like I was in a noisy airport or back to the days of Homecoming in a noisy gym when we (the boys and I, our host from Roderick Bay, and an Australian couple from the other village) went to another village across the bay by a panga like boat to celebrate "All Saints Day". The Anglican church is what we've been going to here and that's what they have there, although we didn't go until after mass, because I don't want to take Holy communion when everyone sips out of the same cup and the snotty noses never end around here. We went to the secondary chief's house to wait there and the boys chased two pigs around and the dozens of kids all followed and thought it was a scream.
Apparently most of these people have truly never seen white people and they call you European no matter where you're from because??? that's what they've learned in school that's where the explorers came from and they must've all been British because this was in the Commonwealth? So it's like being a rock star (I'm worried what this will do to my boys' ego? is this teaching them to be the center of attention everywhere we go?). Everyone presses in close and for the boys they start poking them, and if you're standing up they actually push you or push someone else into you, and then the boys retaliate and everyone howls in laughter. At first the boys were clinging to me and complaining, then they took off and started chasing them instead and it sounded like the roar of a crowd at a concert! We don't really know what's acceptable or what's not, but since everyone was howling with laughter we just go with it. The biggest boys actually picked the boys up and hoisted them overhead, and I'm thinking this must've been how they did it to feel how meaty you are before you get roasted...Then they dropped them into a pile of girls and the girls all push and pull at them, hugging them from behind and the boys squeal and thrash to break free. More howling laughter. WEIRD! I happened to be swaying a bit to the music and suddenly there's an old lady who wants to dance so I have to dance with her and everyone is hooting and thinks it's the best thing since the Beatles! It's all very strange and more than a little overwhelming.
We had to wait a long time while all the people from this massive village brought their food packets for the feast, ladies kept coming and coming with 3 or 4 palm baskets piled on their heads until there were about 5 rows 50 feet long of stuff piled up! Then the men opened bags containing tins of canned ham (like spam) and canned tuna to pile alongside the palm baskets, which contained cassava or tapioca "puddings" and rice. Then when everything had been piled, a representative from each family or group came to collect all the stuff and either take it home to eat, or eat there. We had already been given giant squares of pudding when we arrived, but now they opened the palm packets and we had some more, and Morgan was starving so he had a whole can of spam and rice in a giant banana leaf. There's no plates, no silverware, no napkins. You don't even want to know what happens next after people eat, they all have to traipse off to the mangrove to go potty, which even I had to pee by then and had no choice, and it wasn't very pleasant in there! It reminded me of being in Tarawa on the beach and you have to pay CLOSE attention to where you walk!
After everyone had eaten the music began, and this village (Letonga One and Two) is divided into two parts because it's so huge, so each side had several groups who would perform their custom dance. It happened to have been pouring down rain most of the time we were there and was now letting up, but I don't know if that was why they kept their regular clothes on (no native costume) but some had headpieces, earrings, or necklaces made by the Malaitans, who originally used all these shell things as money. A bunch of it was made from dolphin teeth :( poor dolphins! It was just weird to see Limp Bizkit, McDonald's, Brazilian rugby, and "STOP TB in my lifetime" tee shirts while they did custom dances! Even while all these people danced, others came and joined in to make fun of it, and everyone howled in delight?! The worst part was when the head chief and elders finally danced at the end and it seemed so disrespectful that some women came in and made fun from behind them, and I don't know if it's because they're all drunk on betelnut chew or just plain hilarious! On top of that, Morgan and Wyatt had taken off again in a mad chase, causing such a roar that the people watching the chief dance turned away to see what was going on and I had to go corral them and tell them they had to stop while the chief was dancing!
Guess you could chalk it all up to being the most interesting "field trip" we've ever been on!
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