Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My First Kava Circle

I woke up and walked with Una and Christian across the village to the Methodist Church. I had been asked by Christian to accompany him to the Kava Circle before church. I was invited to be the to’u (kava server – the only female allowed in the kava circle). Kava Circles traditionally take place before church on Sunday and offer the local men an opportunity to hang out (and light-heartedly make fun of the to’u – in this case, me). 

The kava circle took place in a meeting hall next door to the church and I sat in front of the large kava bowl and filled empty coconut shells with kava. The men thanked me for coming, prayed and talked with each other and attempted to speak to me in Tongan (2% of which I understood). A very nice gentleman (who is close to my age) named Filemone was sitting to my right and whispering (in English) what the men were saying. 

As the kava circle pressed on I felt my right leg falling asleep. But didn’t really think much about it as my legs always fall asleep when I sit “criss-cross apple sauce”. Before I go on, I should let you know that the Kava Circle lasted close to an hour and I didn’t change the way I was sitting … at all. So when the men had their fill of kava, they thanked me again for serving them, invited me back to their kava circle on Wednesday evening and let me leave first (what gentlemen! - this is also Tongan tradition). 

As I stood up I realized that something was really wrong. - I couldn’t feel any of my right leg! It was so bad that I grabbed my big toe and felt nothing but a little bit of pressure – no tingles, none of that searing pain that occurs after you have feeling return to whatever appendage lacked blood flow. Nada. Feeling like a pirate with a peg leg, I hobbled to the door trying not to make it obvious that I couldn’t feel much anything.  This brilliant idea did not work the way I had planned it to because as I turned around I caught Filemone’s eye and he was giggling at me. I quickly turned back to the door and me and the dead leg hobbled to lotu (church). As I left the meeting hall, laughter and side comments about that silly palangi (white person/foreigner) were heard behind me. Sweet deal.

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