Birthday party restores family credibility?

Luca’s birthday party looked precarious as it poured with rain all morning, but the rain eased about 30mins before the afternoon slot, and we figured we should go ahead with it. As it turned out, the families who own the land by the swimming hole where we’d decided to host it had been busy sweeping the site, putting out a table and preparing flowers. We gathered by the sea with beautiful tropical flowers adorning the ground, and in the style of Vanuatuan feasts that we’d previously attended, laid out all the food we’d prepared. Cake, biscuits, popcorn, chippies, bread and jam, a few lollies etc… All birthday treat food, but Lord knows what impression this would give our supremely healthy Ni-Vans who took this as our typically daily diet.

We ended up with about 30 people, at least half of them kids, and the pastor (my spearfishing buddy) announced he would chair the proceedings and led the group with a couple of rousing songs and a speech. Not to be outdone, and wanting to meet all village expectations of long-winded and unnecessary speech-making prior to eating, I then spoke (with the pastor translating into Bislama for me). I held the audience in the cup of my hand, wooing them with my rapier-sharp wit and stunning them with my rhetorical skills. I jest, of course: these Ni-Vans are a tough nut to crack, most of them simply stared at me stoney-faced throughout.

Rebecca had baked a banana cake (yes, we’re finally found a resolution for our banana glut), layered it up and covered it with icing to resemble the active volcano that sits, and usually smokes, over the village. At the end of the speeches I suggest that Rebecca talk everyone thru’ the cake, and all the Ni-Vans looks utterley non-plussed as Rebecca attempts to explain what would in NZ or UK be a quite normal jokey look what a ridiculous cake I created, made to resemble something silly etc If there was a common expression amongst them as they contemplated their (possibly sacred) volcano being re-enacted in cake form, it must have been along the lines of what the….?!

Nevertheless, if the explanation of the cake fell on stoney ground, the cake itself seemed hugely popular and was quickly distributed by the boys and wolfed down by all. Wolfed-down, though, barely describes what then occurred, as we encouraged people to come to the table and help themselves to the other goodies. All semblence of social niceties fell away in the mad scramble for grub. I’d just met the father of some of the kids who introduced himself as Edmund Hilary, and so intrigued was I by his name and why his parents in a remote Vanuatuan island would have named him after NZ’s most famous mountaineer, that I continued to engage him while he cast doleful glances over my shoulder at the food table. The whole conversation lasted only minutes, but by the time I suggested he should get some food, the table had been decimated with one small manky piece of grapefruit the only remaining survivor. I suspect he’ll be looking for a name change prior to the next party.

Anyway, the kids worked off the sugar hit with endless bombs off the rocks in the swimming hole, and the party came to a slightly early end when Luca scraped himself on some coral and incurred the traditional birthday injury. Reflecting on the whole thing, I should point out that the Ni-Vans have a wonderful diet of fresh fruit, veg, fish, chicken it’s very rare to see an overweight Vanuatuan, or for that matter an under-weight one but they probably don’t have much opportunity to tuck into the processed sugary treats we roll out for birthdays. Thus the feeding frenzy – and we’ve all had that urge, right?

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Process Chick
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 09:20:47

    What an awesome experience. I bet Luca looks back on this birthday in years to come as his most memorable.
    New Bike $300.
    New computer game $500.
    Birthday party in Vanuatu – Priceless!


  2. Michael
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 09:22:32

    I am loving, living your adventure in my mind. Wished it was me there too.
    Happy Birthday Luca. Remember i gave you your first bath!
    Looking forward to your next update
    Love M M M & B


  3. Tim
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 11:05:16

    very funny… and happy birthday to Luca – sounds like one he wont forget in a hurry.


  4. Sheila
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 16:24:52

    Happy 11th Birthday Luca, sounds as though you had a wonderful party. Just wish i could have been there.Would have liked to have tried Mum’s cake. Have enjoyed reading about all your adventures. Missing you heaps and love you lots.
    Nan & Poppa


  5. Mandy Armstrong
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 18:34:13

    Happy Birthday Luca! Sounds like you had a Great Party!

    Really enjoying reading about all your adventures!

    Lots of Love
    Molly and Peter


  6. agnes
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 11:13:55

    I am visualising every descriptive word in your blog michael…i hope you will consolidate everything into a book featuring the adventures of the 3 kids. i have been actively reading your blog, a respite from rugby news and commentaries…
    safe sailing all the way… fun… fun… discovery and fun…


  7. Jules
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 19:28:59

    Happy Birthday Luca! and what a day! I hope there was some cake left for you. See you for Xmas.

    lots of love
    Jules xxxx


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