About Me

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Sacramento, California, United States
so salty pieces of coral from surfing Hawaii in the 60's and 70's getting reef pounded living in my body fall through my skin from time to time!

sailing to Oahu

Jimi Hendrix was playing on Oahu. I had never sailed. Surfed Mexico, California, Hawaii! Aw, how hard could it be to sail 90-110 miles from Kauai to Oahu? Piece of cake, right? Remember it was the 60's! This is so bad. We thought we were looking at Kaiena Point,Ohau, knowing we weren't going to make the concert! But at least we were in site of Oahu-wrong! Coy, who had never sailed before, me,who had never sailed before, jeff and Abbott etc. We were looking at the sleeping giant on Kauai! We had done three-sixty's in the night! We sailed on the only tri-marran I've ever sailed on ( except later ) in my life, missed the concert! It was at the Waikiki Shell Ampitheater ( Moon eclipsed . We finally made Nawilwili Harbor! The Skipper tried to give us his boat saying, " It's trying to kill me"! We watched him go stark raving mad not even realising that had we got caught in the channel current we were on our way to Japan! Remember it was the 60's and we were going to see Hendrix. I left out some of the good stuff but I will make up for it later!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kawa Kawa ( Awa in Hawaiian )

     There is a peculiar root that grows on the Pacific Islands.   In Hawaii it is called Awa root.  I
first heard of it there and tried it with a couple of friends of mine on Kauai.  We knew it had a history or better said; a place in Hawaiian history.  We, being true explorers of pharmacology in the sixties, knew there was a load there and as explorers were compelled to explore the mysteries surrounding this spiritual, cliff dwelling root called Awa.  (pronounced ava)..

`Awa is one of the plants brought in their sailing canoes by the earliest Polynesian voyagers arriving in Hawai`i. `Awa (Piper methysticum), a member of the pepper family, grows in the wild now and is also cultivated increasily throughout the Pacific Islands, where it is called Kava or Kava Kava. This plant grows well at low elevations where there is constant moisture and partial sun. More than a dozen varieties of `awa were known in old Hawai`i.

       I started this thought  to kick around an idea about ka'awa, kawa, kawa kawa!  I was going to share with you the difference between Fijian kawa and Vanuatu'an kawa and their ceremonies.  Well, I can officially say to you," That is over"!  Like the root itself, it keeps growing!
      I need you to visualize a picture.  Sailing today with modern technology is still a risk.  The picture I
would enjoy you to sea is carved tree hulls with pounded coconut pulp sails and rope made from dying plants.
Navigators who FEEL stars, swells, currents, smells, birds and stories passed from father to son, remembered in Homeric proportion!  Their very existance depended upon it.! I cry! 

A sign showing a "Kava license area" at Yirrkala, in the Northern Territory of AustraliaMain article: Kava culture

Kava is used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it. In Fiji, for example, a formal yaqona (kava) ceremony will often accompany important social, political, religious, etc. functions, usually involving a ritual presentation of the bundled roots as a sevusevu (gift), and drinking of the yaqona itself.[24]

A traditional Fijian yaqona bundle of rootsCorrespondingly, the paraphernalia surrounding the traditional kava ceremony are expertly crafted. Traditionally designed Kava bowls are bowls made from a single piece of wood, with multiple legs. More modern examples are also highly decorated, often carved and inlayed with mother of pearl and shell.

They like Fijian tobacco also as did I.  Cake was cool. Snake wasn't!

Kava is used primarily at social gatherings to increase amiability and to relax after work. It has great religious significance, being used to obtain inspiration. Among some fundamentalist Christian sects[who?] in the Western Pacific, the drink has been seen as a vice, and young members of these religions often reject its traditional use. However, among many mainline Christian denominations, i.e. the Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Anglican churches, kava drinking is encouraged where it replaces alcohol.

        So!  Welcome to Fiji.  Clap clap.  Peaceful isn't it?  A half coconut shell filled with a liquid substance that tastes like dirty dishwater and has basically the same results.  I didn't realize that Indians from India were taking over the politics of a melanesian country under New Zealand auspices!  A coup.  Oh man.  I hadn't been laid in damn near a year!  I'm on the highest level of the stadium in downtown Suva. Making love to the first American I had had in awhile!  Another story! ( mention Legsly for both[tres] of these recomembers) I had come ashore a few days before, nowhere nesr Suva, illegally, I might add.  I hope there is a statue to limitations, cause I'm telling the truth!  I bought several cartons of cigarettes and two cases of Fijian Bitters, quarts before we quarenteened in Suva and cleared customs.  Oh shit!  We ran aground anyway, inside the leads! (another story) Rainfall/sandbar/aground!  ARRgGH!!
       This story is about Kawa.  New Hebrides (Vanuatu ) Port Vila is where I would like this story to bend.
Later I'll share with you " the banks" or the island of Pentecost"  where, to get there you sail over an underwater volcano, where everyman is sure that even a balanced boat will be unfloated because it is heavy and the saltwater that carried the vessel there has sailed into HEAVY water!  These people on the Island of Pentecost jump---off of towers, like bungi jumpers of today.  It's a " right of passage".  Sometimes it goes wrong and lasts a lifetime.  But then, the kawa of the Vanuatuans is what I was meant to express.
       Allow me to tell you what I have longed to share with anyone who has ears to hear.  The boat I had sailed on through weather foul and fine arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu.  Beers at the yacht club were one thing but my skipper and I wanted to experience Vanuatuan kava.  We are invited to a place, covered, and a parking lot.  50 locals and 6 tourists are there.  No clap clap with the beautiful bowl.  This is the real deal.  Sooo.  Being as I have been searching for awa since I was a youngster in Hawaii, this cost kala.  We all paid money because it is hard work to harvest, grind, wash, tent, and set up a loading zone for this kind of experience.  Here is what happened to me:  My mind and body became numb.  I begged a ride from a local, speaking with a tongue so swollen that combined with hand messages barely got me back to the yacht club, which is where I had tied the dinghy up.  I was extremely lucky, in that, since I had no control over my body functions, I slipped and fell, rolled down the dock, and over into the dinghy!  As I was looking at the stars in Port Vila, belly up! (can you imagine if I had landed face down?)  I laughed a laugh that no one could hear because I was paralized from a drug that I had no idea was as powerful as what I found to be true!  I believe to this day, had I have missed the dinghy when I rolled off that dock and hit the warm water of the South Sea., I would not be sharing this yarn with you. No one was around to hear me not cry out for help. I simply couldn't cry out.  My vocal chords, for the first time in my life, would not vibrate!

[edit] Strains and origins

A painting showing women preparing Kava.One of the most potent strains is called "Isa" in Papua New Guinea, and also called "Tuday" in Hawaii. In Vanuatu it is considered a type of "Tudei" kava, pronounced as "two-day" because it is said to have effects lasting two days due to its chemical profile being high in the kavalactone dihydromethysticin. The plant itself is a strong, very hardy, fast-growing variety with multiple light to dark green stems covered with raised dark spots.

In Vanuatu there are strict laws over the exportation of Kava. Only strains they deem as "noble" varieties that are not too weak or too potent are allowed to be exported. Only the most desirable strains for every day drinking are selected to be noble varieties in order to maintain quality control. In addition their laws mandate that exported kava must be at least five years old and farmed organically. Their most popular noble strains are "Borogu" from Pentecost Island. "Melomelo" from Ambae island, (called 'sese' in North Pentecost) and "Palarasul" kava from Espiritu Santo Island. In Vanuatu, Tudei (two-days) kava is reserved for special ceremonial occasions and exporting it is not allowed. "Palisi" is a popular Tudei variety.

In Hawaii there are many other strains of kava. Some of the most popular strains are the "Mahakea," "Mo'i," and "Nene" varieties. The Ali'i (kings) of old Hawaii coveted the special kava they called "Mo'i" that had a strong cerebral effect due to a predominant amount of the kavalactone kavain. This sacred variety was so important to them that no one but royalty could ever experience it, "lest they suffer an untimely death."

Other strains are found in Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa.

And don't forget " The Land of the Long White Cloud"!   Aloha........RB

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Everything that glitters

   He was a fortunate wog.  From birth no chance had he to get the fair shake that at times a man in circumstance finds himself able to rise beyond his station by a peculiar twist of fate.  Lucky he was
for it was I standing watch and not my man Fearsy, when he made his break for freedom.  One would think I was speaking of a negro slave, a kept human being!  Not a man I hired to help me return to the possible claim that I had left in California all these years.  Fearsy would have killed him just for leaving.  I allowed him to go.  Him not knowing I was watching and had been since we left Sacramento.
   He would be wealthy today instead of dead had he had even the slightest inclination as to what was happening around him.  How he survived as long as he did is a mystery to me.  I am the reason he is dead and yet no fault lies upon my doorstep!  His name is unimportant to me but his sad tale needs the hearing so that the many may hearken to what is possible, that dreams no matter how unrealistic or seemingly farfetched might still be attainable. Could he not see me and how I was not of the ilk of the pretenders to wealth?  But truly wealthy in family and friendships?  Even character?  Nay!  He could not.  For he had been abused to a point where no man he trusted and could not.
    He never told me the whole story.  I did not pry, though curious as to the depth of pain which was an open wound he carried with him always.  Even with grog and an open fire, all stars visible and bellies full of fresh venison and vegtables, somehow he managed to draw all our attention into the dark abyss, a vacuum that he managed to end conversation, laughter and all joy with.  He was a master of depression!  Had I not met Fearsy, this man I could be!
    His story was a common one of this time.  A wagon train leaves from St. Louis.  Families moving west to find a better life.  Indian country and such.  He always stopped his story about the time when he and his family were ready to cross the Seirra-Nevadas.  Hell, his eyes grew darker and I got a little scarred and I've been around  "The Horn" six times and seen grown men beg for their lives! So what has affected Bill Donner's judgement so intensely that he takes a horse, pack mule. and two months wages instead of working for wage and a 5%  after I reclaim what is mine anyway!
    Right now. Today.  If anyone can tell me why Bill Donner left my camp.  I would really like to know.  He was shot to death at Sutter Creek by a bartender.  I don't hold much trust in stories but I have heard a few.  Fearsy doesn't talk a lot but he told me it was a good thing we got shut of Bill Donner.  Shoot, where are we going to find someone we can trust in the gold country.  What will happen if my claim is still as rich as it was before I got shanghaiied?  Well at least Kwai Chang is with me.  I'm not sure what a Sho'lin priest is or kung fu but I would still like to have another person to replace Bill.  My son Luke is weathered but is only 18.  What if we all took a wagon train the other way?  Fearsy, Kwai Chang, Luke and Robbin? To St. Louis? Why not?  

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