Our final day in the Fijian village had quite a build up. I must have answered the question "What day are you leaving Fiji and the village" about twenty times during my entire stay, unsure as to why they were so anxious to know my departure date. I believe they were just gearing themselves up for the big day when we say our goodbyes and experience one final jolt of the "True Fiji" culture. I took it fairly easy during the day with a writing session and a swim at the waterfall, and when lunchtime finished, I leaned to my side and suddenly passed out cold, as if I had really done any real labor that day. I awoke to a bunch of ladies weaving fern mats around me and giggling as little Pio, my host cousin, took photos of my groggy state.
During my waterfall adventure and delicious nap, my host parents constructed a lovo, or underground oven with firewood, stones to be heated, coconut shells holding various foods, and banana leaves to cover the entire situation. The grub finished with an aromatic uncovering in the dark of evening. Fane dressed me in one of her grand sulus and a flowery lei, and we all walked with food in hands to the party down the path at Chris' house.
A tablecloth stretched the length of the room on the floor, with plates scattered at intervals of various noodles, taro, and lovo goodies. We joined the men watching rugby on the TV (Chris' house was pretty set up) until Moji announced our turn to thank the village formally for the entire week.
"I just want to thank all of you for being a part of this experience. I want to thank my lei and my nau and my new friend and sister, Bui, for their hospitality. I had so much fun doing everything and nothing with you. From the kava sessions to just hanging out, it was incredibly fulfilling. I know you all just be aware of how lucky you are, to live amidst such a wonderful landscape and among such wonderful people. I have to make it back here, THIS YEAR!"
That was the gist of my announcement. Words of appreciation and love exchanged among everyone and clapping commenced after everyone's speeches. And then we went to business on the food for a couple hours.
With two dollars in my hand, I walked in the dark behind Fane to a private area in the village, an open air building where fundraising dances took place. As the pop/island music blasted into the quiet night, we shimmied our leis and sulus, kicking up the dusty soil into a fog. Chris would spontaneously whip out his Ace Ventura dance moves, while I would be challenged by the village ladies to ask multiple men to dance (using my new line "Au nakwati e koko daro danisi" or "I want you to dance with me"). Traveler Tom had moves that would stop Michael Jackson in his tracks, and the entire house was shaking with laughter and hilarity.
Most of the men sat on one side of the building drinking kava and occasionally looked to see what all the fuss was about on the dance floor. It resembled a middle school dance in a sense. My feet were the color of milk chocolate by the dance's end and my body limp from exhaustion. The next morning we would leave, and I couldn't have imagined a better way to bid it adieu...dancing to Akon.