Kava is Fiji’s famous drink. Unlike alcohol, it tends to tranquilise you, first making your lips go numb, then your tongue, before your whole body feels like it’s been transported into a Ministry of Sound chill-out album.
It looks like ditch water but has a strangely medicinal, dentist’s mouth wash taste.
One guide joked that it is Fiji’s unofficial contraceptive – after a few, the guys can’t muster enough energy to act on any urges they might be feeling and the women can slip off back to bed without being noticed.
Mental note: Only have one kava tonight.
In one village I visited, our host allowed me to mix my own kava, a process of putting the root shavings into a small sack and mashing it around a ceremonial bowl until the water turns a muddy, brown colour.
As I mashed away, our host explained that if he wanted to talk to another village about anything, he wouldn’t be able to phone or write – he would have to visit personally and drinkkava before any business could be discussed.
Despite spilling most of it over my sulu (a traditional sarong), I received more than a few compliments on my kava-making abilities, highlighted by the fact we had to carry three highly intoxicated people back onto the bus.