mum and dad had promised us that before we left, they would take us to a fiafia night at one of the local hotels. "fiafia" means celebration, get-together or happy... and this night was certainly all three!
we arrived to the hotel and were escorted to a table near the buffet table, where we were treated to many traditional samoan foods, such as taro & green bananas cooked in coconut cream, palusami (a dish with baked coconut cream and taro leaves) and oka (raw fish soup). what a treat!... you know because i haven't eaten enough while i've been here... everyone has spoiled us so much, with so much and such good food being served to us each and every day.
the dancers for the fiafia night were incredible at le manumea - the costumes so well made, the women smiling all the time (which unlike some dancers did not look in any way forced - they seemed so genuinely happy to be there and to be able to entertain.) and such an amazing portrayal of traditional polynesian dance. i loved watching them, with their fluent and effortless movement as they went from each dance to the next.
there was education included also as we were taught all the uses of the coconut. nothing is wasted. you can drink the water, eat the flesh, make cream and milk, make a wonderful natural oil that can be used for so many things including skincare and cooking, the stringy part can be used as a loofah and then the husk is burnt to cook umu once everything else is done. what an amazing tree to be blessed with!
we were also told about the malu, a sacred tattoo originally given only to the daughters of chiefs, which extends from the upper thigh to below the knee. they are now more common and even tattooed on some that would be considered "not worthy" of the honour, but are still held sacred to the samoan women.
the log drums used by the group were incredible. huge - with such a distinct sound. for doug it was love at first sight... we may have to look into getting him one!
a demonstration of 5 different ways to wear a lavalava (sarong) was done by the girls and as they displayed each one - i finally found mine! i had spent my time here looking at each one we came across... but just wasn't keen enough on any of them to buy one. however, in the demo a rainbow streaked purple one caught my eye, which was being sold in the hotel gift shop! yay. one more thing to check off the must-do/ must purchase list here in samoa.
the men in the group also performed during the evening doing tribal dances, a slap dance... and were even quite comical, dressing a little to demonstrate the fa'afafine... the "third gender" of the islands. (this is a little difficult for me to explain because it's new to me... take a minute and read about it here - it's genuinely quite interesting) they were so funny and had the audience roaring with laughter.
near the end of the evening, the fire dancers performed... it was like nothing i've ever seen before. i said to mum that i was amazed no one had burnt themselves - and she assured me that they do. all part of the job. one of the boys in their primary class at church is learning to be a fire dancer (he is 8) and has had plenty of little burns along the way.
i was even lucky enough to snap a few good shots. what an amazing thing to watch.
after the finale, doug and madeline were lucky enough to have their photo taken with the cast who were ever so kind, very obliging and very attractive haha. what an awesome experience, i would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting upolo.