Like most people, I can recall some significant events in my life. I remember my first day of school, first sexual experience, and my first time breathing underwater. Fulaga was able to check a few more firsts off the list and make them unforgettable.
The day after one of the best Mondays of my life when we went adventurizing (aka: Bob Marley inspired adventure) and found the Lazy River and the Delos Grotto (see Does somebody have a case of the Mondays?- by Paul), Brian and I had an interesting day. Waking up around 11 as we tend to do, the day was started with some coffee and fruit. We talked about our options for the day. Paul had already paddled off on the long board and Darren was reading about clouds so Brian and I discussed swimming to shore and hanging with the village, going diving, going wakeboarding or just sitting around and doing nothing. A few days before, the “mayor” of the village, Mele, told us about a cave containing a human skull. Done; the goal for Tuesday was finding human remains from the cannibalism days. We donned our mask and fins and snorkeled in. Tai, the village “funny man” as they called him, was the guy to ask. He spoke fairly good English, stood about 5ft. tall and always had an interesting grin on his face.
Mele on the left, Tai on the right. Enjoying kava Delos style
“Oi Tai, do you know where the old human skull is?” I said, still dripping wet from the swim in. “Oh…,yes…., maybe 5 chains from the village. We go now”. Tai replied. Wow, easier then we thought. We followed him and asked how long or far a chain was but he really had no idea. “Maybe 15 minutes” he said smiling. The day’s mission had begun.
As we followed Tai through the village, he spoke to all the people we passed saying something in Fijian. Every one of the villagers replied with an “Oi?!?” I’m sure he was saying “Hey, these crazy white men want to see a human skull”. We hiked passed the pigs, cassava plants, and banana trees, up the limestone mountain into the jungle.
Penetrating the lush jungular landscape
About 20 minutes later Tai stopped and told us we were at the site of the old village that his ancestors once lived in which could have been anywhere from 100 to 200 years ago. Nobody really knows. We came to a cliff face with a small gap, about 3 ft. high by 5 ft. across.
Looking down into the village
Tai and I near the old Village
Tai climbed into the limestone hole and popped up grinning like a mad man. In his hand was a skull.
Tai being a funny man
He waved us over to the opening. Brian and slowly I peered in. “Holy shit!” we said simultaneously as we looked down onto a pile of at least two dozen skulls, both children and adult, male and female. The bottom of this cave was literally piled with remains. Femurs, jaw bones, ribs, vertebrate, and hip bones made up the ground. Some of which were covered with algae from being in the damp cave so long.
yep, all those were eaten
We hesitated for a minute or two then Tai invited us in. We sat in the cave for a good 30 minutes taking pictures, playing with the skulls and talking. As long as we put the skulls back where we found them out of respect, Tai was happy. A few days before, Mele told us a story of his experience with a skull. It was the skull of a women and he described it as being very handsome. He asked the skull “Where are you from?” then put it back down out of place. Later that night a Tongan women came to him in his sleep and said she was the spirit of the skull that he was holding. The spirit terrified his wife Chico but Mele had a big smile when he spoke of the Tongan women that visited him in his dreams. If you’re wondering, non of us had a Tongan women visit us in our dreams, unfortunately.
He doesn’t look like a murderer at all
Apparently the bones were remains from two types of victims. Some were from Tongans who had been unfortunately blown to Fulaga or paddled there during island war. The others were from missionaries who weren’t too successful at spreading the “good Word”. Both of which ended up as a village feast at one time. Tuesday the 7th of June was the first time holding a human skull that was once another person’s meal- check.
This unfortunate Tongan or missionary got their skull bashed in
Later, back on Delos, we told Paul and Darren of our Goonie like adventure and came to the conclusion that we needed to go back the next day for their turn with the skulls. Funny enough, Darren and Paul had the same “holy shit! That’s a pile of human bones” reaction.
After climbing back down from the tomb, Brian wasn’t feeling too well and headed back out to Delos to rest. We asked Tai what he was up to and he nervously replied “I have to go help someone with something”, which we later found out meant go get drunk off grog. Darren wandered on to the beach and found a nice spot to pass out. Paul and I collected some coconuts to quench our thirst then went for a walk to the school where the teachers were so proud of the children they made them line up, military style, and sing the Fijian national anthem.
VIP concert of Fiji’s National Anthem
Mind molders of Fulaga
Bill, one of the villagers who was walking around with us, asked if we wanted to go see the other village. What else did we have to do? The next adventure soon began.
The supply ship into this island hadn’t come in about a month but lucky for the village and us it arrived earlier that day. You could tell because nobody was out planting, cooking, or working in their yards. Where was everyone? Sitting in circles drinking fresh kava right off the boat. Bill took us from hut to hut in the other village drinking a few bowls of kava at every stop. What we did makes a pub crawl look like a 12 year old ballet dancer. We now refer to that experience as the Kava crawl.
Low tide, high tide, or tsunami? Tsunami
Fellow kava enthusiast
We heard that kava needs to build up in your system before you feel anything. The past few months we stared at the locals, from one village to another, getting so relaxed from the grog while they could barely speak. We would drink 20- 30 bowls in a sitting and feel nothing more then a full stomach. Wednesday the 8th of June was the first time getting drunk off Kava- check. What was the feeling like? It’s really hard to explain. Almost like a mild stoned feeling but more in your body then head. You feel relaxed and care free. You smile and laugh. You’re legs don’t want to work. Good stuff.
Last stop on the Kava crawl
To top off that Wednesday Paul and I shared another first, this time with a child. Wait…That didn’t sound right. Simply put, we walked around a hut to see this little boy look up at us and react as if we were monsters. His eyes widened, filled with tears and he let one of the worst screams I’ve ever heard while running into his fathers arms. His dad picked him up and held him while laughing and saying “sorry, you are first Kaipalangi (white person) he sees”. In our Kava stoned state it was hard to grasp the situation, and really take in but I’m positive we looked at each other and said something along the lines of “Shit just got real”. Maybe someday that child will write a blog about his first times and there Paul and I will be; the first white people he had ever seen- check.
The poor child that has Paul and I etched into his memory for ever