full moon christmas

an impression written in a nakamal.

Darkness is falling. People whisper. All colours slowly fade into a deep blue. Like a cloud covering up the beams of sunlight, the blue slowly overshadows every tone as the sun sets behind the hills, the mountains, the volcano.

Deep shadows fall. Details fade. A crisp, bright, full moon towers on the still blue sky. The high tops of the tall trees draw clear silhouettes on the night sky. As if cut out I think. Blue clouds tower over the scene.

At this time, the blue hour, the spirits start entering the Nakamal. When day fades and night falls they creep through the cracks in the concrete. They dare to come out of the bush around us. They are blue and black. They are falling over the world.

A flying fox spreads it’s wings and slides silently over the palm trees. My eyes follow its flight across the sky. As if it smells the Kava I think. And in the blink of an eye this spirit of the night disappears into the thick black nothingness of jungle that surrounds us always.

The moon towers still low. Tonight she makes a theatrical entrance. She waits on the horizon, yellow-tinted, like a golden medal, slowly rising, fading behind swathes of milky clouds and fog.

The singing of the birds and the hoppers quiets down. During sunset they were playing a wild orchestra from all around us, dramatically working towards a climax, getting louder and louder until, in tune with the light, their singing and screaming starts to diminish. Now that the black darkness sets over the blue hour, they quiet down and find a place to rest. Silence falls over the Nakamal. Only a few people talk quietly and spit.

Hushed voices glide into the night.

It is a loud silence. People sit separately. There is no light except of single phones illuminating expressionless faces and a dim solar light towering over the bar. Here Howard stands with a big bucket of Kava. Today on this full moon Christmas the Kava is free. Howard first steers it, then he fills the earthy liquid with a metal cup carefully into the coconut shells. Slowly he places the shell onto a plate with holes as if handling something very dear and important. I slowly take the shell, with the same respect he handled it with. Something precious, something holy. The small solar lamp barely illuminates the room. It draws deep, dark shadows on peoples faces.

The flying foxes are hunting now. Their time has come.

I leave the bar to the left, to the place where everybody drinks, facing the black bush, the home of the spirits. As if to call them with the noise of slowly swallowing the content of your shell, letting the juice run down your throat.

You and the earth. I can feel the cool liquid arrive in my stomach. The moon towers high now, the majestic trees set apart in dark shadows, a painted silhouette against the oh so bright, full moon.

The Kava starts to have it’s effect, it demands it. The spitting gets more intense. I can feel her pull me, she the strongest of all spirits. She moves my blood like the tides of the ocean, pulled back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.

With a numb tongue I stare at her, at Luna in all her beauty and strength. She is my mother and sister. The ocean moves, I hear it from here, overlaid by the wild barking of the dogs in the village.

The spirits are here.

This is a place where people meet them.

Where they leave their bodies silently and fade away.

Wash out, become calm and cold and wet.

A quiet place.

A dark place.

A spiritual place.

Ocean.               Water.               Earth.

Root           Kava           Pee        Wind            Trees              Shadow

Moon                 Clouds               Howling                  The stoney road.




A deep, dreamful sleep with a belly full of grey juice.

As I sleep in my hammock the next day digesting the Kava many creatures sleep and move around me. On the ground, in the trees and through the air. Only a few meters away under a big Nabanga tree lies a huge pig. It’s ear twitches and a fly changes its spot.

Continue to "Pig Joys"

Thank you for reading.

All of these photos are published under a creative commons license.

You can download them here.

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