Darkness is falling. People whisper. All colours slowly fade into a deep blue. Like a cloud covering up the beams of sunlight, the blue slowly overshadows every tone as the sun sets behind the hills, the mountains, the volcano.
Deep shadows fall. Details fade. A crisp, bright, full moon towers on the still blue sky. The high tops of the tall trees draw clear silhouettes on the night sky. As if cut out I think. Blue clouds tower over the scene.
At this time, the blue hour, the spirits start entering the Nakamal. When day fades and night falls they creep through the cracks in the concrete. They dare to come out of the bush around us. They are blue and black. They are falling over the world.
A flying fox spreads it’s wings and slides silently over the palm trees. My eyes follow its flight across the sky. As if it smells the Kava I think. And in the blink of an eye this spirit of the night disappears into the thick black nothingness of jungle that surrounds us always.
The moon towers still low. Tonight she makes a theatrical entrance. She waits on the horizon, yellow-tinted, like a golden medal, slowly rising, fading behind swathes of milky clouds and fog.
The singing of the birds and the hoppers quiets down. During sunset they were playing a wild orchestra from all around us, dramatically working towards a climax, getting louder and louder until, in tune with the light, their singing and screaming starts to diminish. Now that the black darkness sets over the blue hour, they quiet down and find a place to rest. Silence falls over the Nakamal. Only a few people talk quietly and spit.
Hushed voices glide into the night.
It is a loud silence. People sit separately. There is no light except of single phones illuminating expressionless faces and a dim solar light towering over the bar. Here Howard stands with a big bucket of Kava. Today on this full moon Christmas the Kava is free. Howard first steers it, then he fills the earthy liquid with a metal cup carefully into the coconut shells. Slowly he places the shell onto a plate with holes as if handling something very dear and important. I slowly take the shell, with the same respect he handled it with. Something precious, something holy. The small solar lamp barely illuminates the room. It draws deep, dark shadows on peoples faces.
The flying foxes are hunting now. Their time has come.
I leave the bar to the left, to the place where everybody drinks, facing the black bush, the home of the spirits. As if to call them with the noise of slowly swallowing the content of your shell, letting the juice run down your throat.
You and the earth. I can feel the cool liquid arrive in my stomach. The moon towers high now, the majestic trees set apart in dark shadows, a painted silhouette against the oh so bright, full moon.
The Kava starts to have it’s effect, it demands it. The spitting gets more intense. I can feel her pull me, she the strongest of all spirits. She moves my blood like the tides of the ocean, pulled back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.
With a numb tongue I stare at her, at Luna in all her beauty and strength. She is my mother and sister. The ocean moves, I hear it from here, overlaid by the wild barking of the dogs in the village.
The spirits are here.
This is a place where people meet them.
Where they leave their bodies silently and fade away.
Wash out, become calm and cold and wet.
A quiet place.
A dark place.
A spiritual place.
Ocean. Water. Earth.
Root Kava Pee Wind Trees Shadow
Moon Clouds Howling The stoney road.
As I sleep in my hammock the next day digesting the Kava many creatures sleep and move around me. On the ground, in the trees and through the air. Only a few meters away under a big Nabanga tree lies a huge pig. It’s ear twitches and a fly changes its spot.
Thank you for reading.
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explore ◊ GAUA ◊ :
A DREAM ◊ XVI
5 weeks I spent on an island called GAUA. A wild, strong, spiritual island. It became home. This is a DREAM.
MEAT ◊ XIV
On a sunny morning the community of Bravet kill a big, white cow to sell the meat. Very colourful meat.
JOY ◊ XII
On the first day of the new year I find myself sitting on a beautiful dead tree in front of a 120m high waterfall that celebrates a new beginning with me. I feel. I understand.
All Good Fruit ◊ XI
A children’s song heard in Musina Village on Vanua Lava.
Watermusic ◊ X
Endlessly they play the water with their hands, they slap and hit, they play and laugh. All day, in the shadow of the big trees, in the river or the ocean or where the two meat.
Admiration ◊ IX
Over centuries the idea of a white supremacy has been enforced and manifested through colonialism in the now so called “developing countries”. But these global roles are ancient and wrong. Ideas about people that deserve real admiration for a forgotten strength.
SKTTRBRAIN ◊ VIII
Domestic violence is a present issue in many countries around the world. In Vanuatu many women, children and animals are subjected to violence on the daily basis. And they stay. They find a way to deal with it, to accept it and to still smile.
Uncontrolled Anger ◊ VII
Violence, the raw physical force intended to hurt or kill a person or an animal is committed daily, endless times around the world. The cycle of hurt and anger spins and spins. But why do we hurt others? And how can we stop it from spinning?
AVER ◊ Christmas Songs ◊ VI
My head is full of streams of thoughts about the disappearing island life and cultural genocides. I slowly fade into a deep, dreamful sleep. Responsibility and powerlessness fight their endless game.
Black Magic ◊ V
After having spent Christmas morning in the Anglican Church of Aver my thoughts are circling around the churches influence on the people here. Somehow I can only see the negative side and it leaves a lingering sadness on my tongue that doesn’t want to vanish. Part two.
GAUA IV ◊ The Christmas Charols of Namasari
With a head full of thoughts about missionaries and sinners I find the way to my hammock. My belly is once again full with grey juice and some maniok. Sleep envelops me soon after I lie down. No dreams come to me on this night. Only heavy ideas and a deep satisfaction...
GAUA III ◊ Baby Jesus
Since centuries christian missionaries are traveling to the most rural places in the world to convert heathens into tamely believers. What legacy do 500 years of proselytisation leave behind? A two-part experience on a small island in the South Pacific. Part One.
GAUA II ◊ Pig Joys (Poem)
Pigs traditionally have an important role in Vanuatu’s kastom system. They are one of the few animals that have not been imported by the Europeans. A poem for these wonderful animals.