6 October 2013
So we had the Jungle Dress competition last night. I spent much of the afternoon working on my costume - I collected that weird woven-like brown fabricky stuff that hangs down around the fronds of coconut trees, and I sewed that onto a ribbon, thinking that would be my wrap-around top.
I went up to the office, but the men staff members were out with guests on the snorkel safari or whatever, so the lady said I could just cut down my own palm frond. Well, you know me. I went down to the beach, Swiss Army knife in hand, and found a low hanging branch - pulled until it was even lower - managed to bend it a bit - and used the knife to cut it off the tree. Then I sat on our porch and cut long slices of leaves off the heavy thick spine (or stem?) in the center. A young girl, 9th grade, daughter of one of the staff members, joined me on the porch and we chatted as I worked. She thought I was a bit nuts, but hey, I suspect most of the guests often do things that seem nuts to Fijians.
I took the long slices of leaves and wove another ribbon up and down around the leaves, and that would be my wrap-around skirt. However, each leaf has a single spine down the center, and so it made the skirt stick out at nearly right angles to my body. What to do? I opted to wear that on the top, and the coconut fiber thing on the bottom. And of course a green top under the leaves, and a khaki skirt under the coconut fiber. (And I should add that the top and skirt add about 20 or more lbs to the photo - NOT my most flattering ensemble!)
Add a few ribbons with shells for ankle bracelets, my coconut shell bangle, and of course my Samoan artificial frangipani blossom behind my ear.
What can I say, I looked more like a coconut palm that anything else!!!! (Please don't laugh at this ridiculous photo - it's the best of the bunch. I hate being photographed, but this was a moment to immortalize!)
So we went up to supper, and all the younger people were already there. I showed up and people cheered, since they knew I'd made my outfit myself. Turns out the others in jungle garb had assistance from the staff - most of them wore skirts that hung down like proper grass skirts. Apparently the proper procedure is to split the leafy part off the spine, and cut the spine off the slices of palm front. Then the leafy part hangs down and swishes the way a hula skirt should. Who knew?
After we ate, we had to parade around and introduce ourselves, then walk the runway before the judges. (I actually know how to walk a runway, ask my friend Jestina!) Anyway, the judges then decided to go with the popular vote. The had the audience applaud for each contestant, one by one, and there was moderate applause for people 1 through 6. My turn - deafening applause and cheering!!!!! A landslide win!!! I of course turned beet red, but gave a little curtsey. (And I'm not sure what I won, since I haven't received it, but I'm hoping for the free massage.)
Well, next up was the bula dance - those of us in jungle garb in front, the rest of the guests in back - Richard as an observer, with the staff. I can't explain the bula dance - music sounds like a St. Thomas Carnival road march song, it's kind of a line dance, with all kinds of arms motions and then you kick and turn and repeat. Crazy and fun.
Here's a link to a youtube video of the dance, not by us but someone else posted a similar dance:
And that's the excitement from Fiji!