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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

October 22, 2018

Suva & Drua

Mariah Reinke, A Watch, Hobart and William Smith Colleges


Looking at masi cloth in Na Korova village, Suva, Fiji.

Current Position
19°23.245’S x 177°41.957’E

Ship’s Heading & Speed
180, New Zealand, 5.4 knots

Wind out of ESE, Force 5

Souls on board

Greetings, once again, from the good ship lollipop!

Ah the misery of forgetting to save your blog posts... technology working against me once again.

There is so much to tell about our wonderful time in Suva, Fiji! Being our third port stop, we got the routine down: explore the area, find ice cream, do some research, and then eat some more ice cream. The city streets of Suva held great adventure, amazing food, and very friendly people. On Saturday morning, we waddled behind Jeff like little ducklings across the city, into a beautiful park that led straight to the stairs of the Fiji Museum. As soon as we entered the building, magnificent wooden drua (canoes) spread across the main room, easily amazing us all. It was fascinating to roam around the museum, both recognizing information we knew and absorbing new information as well, ready to use in our to expand and better our projects. From there, we took off to explore more of Suva including the food market, handicrafts, and natural beauty.

Sunday was undeniably an unforgettable day for all of us students. Thanks to Jeff, we had the opportunity to interact with some of the friendliest and giving people I have ever met in my life. Filing into taxi after taxi, we drove ten minutes out of the city and along the coast where we were dropped off at the end up a muddy road. As we walked down this road, we were greeted by a man dressed in a maroon shirt who led us into his home. In this area there were the most luscious and well-crafted masi (tapas or artwork) lining the entire exterior, hanging off of strings above each of our heads. We sat around the room, the men and women inviting us to sit with them, quickly welcoming us into their lives. I was drawn to a woman who cradled a baby in her arms and spoke calmly to me. She answered each and every one of my questions about her artwork, their culture, daily lives, food & water resources, and practically any thought that came through my head. In the center of the room sat a kava bowl and within it, kava, a drink made from the roots of a pepper plant. A young man sat stirring the bowl with one coconut shell and filling the other which he passed around the room. As this shell was handed to me, I started by exclaiming 'bula', typically meaning hello but clearly holding so much more meaning. Then, I threw back the liquid without hesitation and certainly without any stopping (this liquid tastes just as you would imagine a root to taste). As you lower the coconut cup, the surrounding people offer three hallowed claps which I took as recognition of my success.

These people that we met had also built drua like we had seen in the Fiji Museum. If it is not obvious yet, these people had extreme talent. The man spoke to us about these drua and sailing upon them as well as how they were built. As he spoke to us, many children climbed upon the drua, fascinated by our cameras as well as us visitors. Oh the children! They took great liking to us-especially Debo and Therese-and followed us everywhere they could. I even found myself playing a clapping game with four of them. Their laughs were contagious and humbling.

As you may be able to tell, I could continue writing about this for pages. But the last thing I will mention is their farewell song. Before we left, they thanked us for coming as though we had gifted them when their presence had clearly been a gift to us. One man began singing which quickly turned into each one of them singing, including the young children. As they sang, I thought about how I did not want to leave but even more so, how desperately I wanted them to sing forever.

Mom, you would've loved to hear them sing. Dad, what's up dude? Hope that Maine-or wherever you may be-is treating you well!

- Mariah Reinke, A Watch, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Previous entry: Suva!    Next entry: ABC’s of the Robert C. Seamans


#1. Posted by Deborah Reinke on October 25, 2018

Hi, Mariah!
Seeing this post—after teaching an early childhood music class—seemed liked a happy coincidence. I’m so glad that you are having wonderful cultural experiences with people, music, food, and art! I love seeing the photos and hearing about all the marvelous experiences from each person’s unique perspective. Makaela has been asking about you and reading the blog as well. Dad is visiting Grandma in Oregon right now.
Safe travels! Enjoy Fiji! Missing you! XX00, Mom



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