When you anchor in the waters of a small Fijian village, it is customary to do “Sevu Sevu”-the giving of Kava in return for permission to visit the town and use the waters.
Kava is a root that looks like twigs wrapped around each other. It is ground into powder, seeped, and strained to make a brown, muddy, dirty tasting water-like drink that numbs and tingles your tongue. The men drink it traditionally to socialize until about three in the morning. It tastes really horrible so they guzzle each cup down in one gulp.
When you enter the village to do “Sevu Sevu”, someone will ask you if you are looking for the chief. They will show you the way. When you get there, you sit on the ground in a circle with him (sometimes accompanied by his wife and/or children). You are not permitted to wear hats or sunglasses, are supposed to clap once when the Kava is given and three times at the end of the ceremony. The rules make it sound really strict, long, and sort of scary. We’ve done two Sevu Sevus by now and they are about two to five minutes long. The chief says a couple of words in Fijian, welcomes you to his village, and then you all go home. One of the chiefs was wearing a hat and his two-year-old son was wearing one that said “Go Vodka” and we ended up talking about the rugby cup.
It really isn’t that bad. It’s a great cultural experience and you generally get tours around the village and meet lots of locals. But remember: DO follow the rules. Even if the chief doesn’t follow them, try to make the best impression you can.
Viti Levu, Fiji