Our host family invited us to Sunday service at their church and then lunch at their house afterwards. However, it turned out to be a huge lovo celebration!
We left Sugar Shack at 0900 as it takes 15-20 minutes to dinghy to the closest landing near the village. It is often a wet and bumpy ride. Once we get to shore, we wade across the water to land where we drench ourselves in mosquito repellent. Now we are ready for the 20-minute walk into town thru the lush surroundings and over a small dirt path. We arrive with 5 minutes to spare where we drop off fresh baked banana muffins and homemade chocolate chip cookies for our hosts.
We are ushered to the church where all the cruisers seem to congregate in the back. The village has about 90-100 people and there are at least 50-60 cruisers. Even with all of these people, there is plenty of room in the airy and spacious church.
Above is Matt and I with our host family, Lucy and Nico along with photos of the church and some local children. The entire service was in Fijian so we did not understand a single word. However, one of the elders did speak to us in English as he welcomed us all to the village and to their church service. He said they were honored we should share this time with them.
The singing was lovely and harmonious. The only thing was a man was playing the triangle and I swear it pierced my brain. Lucky for me, he fell asleep during the service and was not playing the entire time.
Lovo Birthday Celebration
After service, we were told that the entire village was preparing to celebrate one of the elder’s 70th birthday with a lovo celebration. We would not be having lunch with our host family, but rather with the entire village. Most excellent.
The men prepared the lovo earlier that morning including 3 pigs, casava, taro root, and veggies. The lovo has been cooking for nearly 4 hours. They slowly uncover all the food bundles.
In the community hall, the women of the village, have laid out fabric in a large U shape. On both sides of the fabric are plates. Over the next hour the women prepare the food, unwrap the lovo items, cook the fish and finish setting the area for everyone.
Everyone forms groups and chats while we wait for the feast. The kids are chatter and giggle while hosts share village life with their cruising families.
The Birthday Boy: 70 year old Elder
At the head of the hall is the place of honor for the birthday boy. In Fiji, they only celebrate 3 birthdays. Your first birthday, your 21st and your 70th. You become an elder at the age of 65 (no matter your station).
Palm fronds are placed in the center of each fabric piece and then the food is placed on top of the fronds. They served hundreds of fish, hundreds of pounds of casava and taro root, a spinach type dish and the 3 pigs. I am liking this lovo a lot!
Somehow, Matt and I (and our friends Fred and Chris on Sea Jay) end up the main table in front of the birthday elder! Lucky us! We get first hand experience with the birthday boy and a few elders during the meal.
It is a bit awkward to get used to eating on the floor (while not showing your knees), and not using utensils (its all using your hands). But we manage to fully enjoy the very tasty and delectable food. There was tons and tons of food! Lots left over which we hope is spread out and shared with the village families. Sweet lovo celebration.
We discover the Cave of Bones in our last blog. Events from this blog occurred in early July. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual events.