Gunu Village from Above
Gunu Village sits in a scenic bay on the north end of Naviti Island, which is part of the Yasawa group.
The people of Gunu are very resilient, as due to their position they are often heavily affected by the regular cyclones that pass through the area, often having to rebuild many of their homes and bures.
When we first entered the village we were welcomed by the tribal leaders, who were sitting in the centre of town preparing the Kava Ceremony.
While the men were working on that, the women and children set up a small shell market and invited us to purchase some of their local handmade products. These included polished shells, bookmarks made from leaves, carved wooden signs and shell necklaces.
We had met many of the kids on the beach earlier, and were greeted by familiar smiles as they introduced us to their mothers and enthusiastically showed off their wares, much of which they had made themselves in school. After purchasing a few items we were ushered back to the town centre for the welcoming ceremony.
The village is quite far off the beaten track, and the locals maintain much of the Fijian traditional way of life. We were advised that when visiting the village it would be considered rude to wear headwear, including hats and sunglasses, and we had to cover our knees.
Most of the guys had packed pants or jeans, but I had left my long pants in Nadi so I needed to get a sulu, a traditional short dress similar to a kilt.
The kava ceremony is often performed to welcome guests to a village. We appointed a chief amongst our group who presented the Chief of the village with a kava root, which was ground and mixed with water to make a kava drink.
We were all encouraged to drink kava with the local men, which involves a series of claps before and after the drink. Kava is not alcoholic, but has an immediate numbing affect. Coming from a root, it has a strong earthy taste. I had a fair sized bowl, (known as ‘high tide’), but was not game to have a second go.
After the welcome ceremony we enjoyed a meal themed as a traditional lovo feast, which is centred around slow cooking food buried in the earth using hot rocks. The food was mostly supplied by the ship, but there were also some local delicacies, including a salad made with sea grapes, a type of seaweed that resembles tiny bunches of grapes that have a slightly salty crunch.
After dinner and some more mingling, we were treated to a farewell ceremony, which included tribal dancing displays and traditional farewell songs, including the famous Isa Lei.
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