Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feasting at Kanton

Kanton welcomed us with a few songs!
Our first day in Kanton was spent chatting with the locals as they prepared
for a funeral feast in honour of Owen's grandmother. Throughout the day, we
watched them bring in a boat load of tuna and eel, some of which were salted
to dry, and others were prepared to be fried for tonight's feast. We also
watched as they brought a pig to the water's edge, where it was killed and
cleaned by Owen and two other men. It took most of the late morning and
early afternoon for the ladies to butcher the pig and prepare it for dinner.

A police boat is expected to come sometime this week, so the families are
all very busy drying various fish to be sent home to their families on the
main island of Tarawa. We're told that fish is difficult to come by at the
busy capital, and can be very expensive to buy. On drying racks throughout
the small community we saw tuna, eel, shark, octopus and wahoo. They told us
that the fish will keep for up to one year when prepared this way.
The evening feast was held in an old, rickety warehouse, whose tin walls
vibrated with the winds, and long strips of roofing threatened to fall at
any moment. This was also used as the schoolhouse, when they are living at
the wharf, instead of their usual village. After short speech giving tribute
to Owen and his grandmother, guests were invited to eat first, along with
the men. After the men had finished eating, the women and children
approached the banquet table.
A long, low, table held dishes prepared by the entire village. The pig was
presented in several ways, as ribs, steaks and other bits and pieces. Many
fish were also prepared - fried in garlic salt, salted, etc. Also the Moray
Eel was available as salted or fresh. I tried the salted, and it was very
delicious! I didn't get to the fresh eel - there were only HUGE pieces, and
our plates were overflowing. Of course, rice, ramen noodles, bread, pumpkin,
and other delights accompanied the meal. Everyone ate meals from simple
plastic plates, with a spoon and our fingers, while sitting on locally made
woven mats.
On Sunday, we arrived in our best outfits for church. Even in this small
village, we had a choice of a Protestant service (in the warehouse) or a
Catholic service (in the teacher's house). After the service, our welcome
feast began. Again, the table was heaped with dishes provided from the
community. John, who seems to be the local leader, and husband of the head
teacher, gave a short welcome speech, and we were gifted with ornate shell
necklaces, made here on the island. Again, we were invited to dine first,
followed by the men, then the women and children. After a meal, which
featured many of the previous day's delights, plus lobster, we had an
opportunity to express our thanks to the villagers, and present a few of the
small gifts we had brought for them. We had bananas, onions, oranges,
eggplant, bic lighters, fabric, fishing hooks and innertube repair kits,
which they seemed pleased to receive, and quickly divided into 7 equal piles
- one for each family. The villagers were also very pleased with the soccer
ball, frisbees, and heaps of movies that Eric provided. After the
formalities, the men quickly dragged the tv, dvd player, and generator over
to the warehouse, and the entire village crowded around to watch Sin City!


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Hi - thanks for leaving a comment on the blog! Cheers - John and Naomi