Erin’s Baptism of Kava



Our new intern from the United Kingdom Erin Lawlor was so determined to have her first taste of kava that her numerous requests resulted in the maiLife team having a few bowls at the office one Friday afternoon. Despite giving her advice of how to handle her first bilo, Erin still had this look of ‘bring on the kava’ even though she had heard many stories of how it made your tongue and your head numb. MaiLife team, however, had brought various chasers including lollies, peanuts and of course, a one litre bottle of lemonade. Photograph­er Jone brought his grog cloth, bilo and basin from home but had to dash to one of his teacher friends to pound the leftover grog that was gifted to him after one of his recent trips to Kadavu. Jone had warned us all to go easy on the grog as it was really strong, but considerin­g that we all wanted to go home at a certain time, we decided to belt the mix. The first was a strong one and Erin’s eyeballs almost popped out after her first big bowl. She quickly downed a few gulps of lemonade to take away the taste of kava, but to no avail. We could only hear a faint murmur of swears from our UK intern as she downed her second, third, fourth and fifth bowl. In the sixth round of taki, our intern asked to miss out and said she would partake the next round. During her short break, Erin attacked the chasers like it was her dinner – well, more to eat for her and less for us. She was shocked at how calm the locals like us handled our kava drinking – more so when we told her locals often sit on the floor for hours, like from 7pm to 3am swiping grog. Delighted with all her first taste of the brew, Erin thanked us for going out of our way to make sure she knew about all the kava traditions such as clapping of hands before receiving the cup to drink and again after drinking. She also learnt other useful tips about the best chaser to have. In the end Erin was so impressed she left for home that evening, grog doped but happy she would be telling her friends who had yet to have a taste of kava what her experience was like. “You haven’t been to Fiji if you haven’t tasted kava,” she said, groggily .

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