I have very helpful 3rd cousins — which means that we share, not a grandfather or a great-grandfather, but a great-great-grandfather. Anyway, they’re wonderful people and have been helpful both before and during my trip. Two sisters, Mareoni and Sai, were my go-to people for questions about culture, ceremony, accommodations, you name it.
Mereoni, pictured first, actually lives in LA, and met me for dinner during my layover. Her sister Sai met me in Suva and helped me buy the whales teeth and kava roots I needed to present to the chiefs at welcome ceremony in Cautata Village put together by all of my family on the first night, and the ceremony to meet Chief Cakobau on the second night. More on that later.
From that point forward I’ve been under the wonderful care of other cousins, specifically Koroi who picked me up from the airport and helped me around Suva, and Luciana who, with her husband Simi and her son Samual, helped me around Nausori (and the terrible ordeal of dealing with different public utility agenies). See, part of the reason I’m here is to repair our family houses on Bau, more on that later.