Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Speaking of Fiji - The Strange Voyage of The Kava

Ever since I read the book Getting Stoned with Savages by Maarten Troost and his follow up book Sex lives of Cannibals I have been on a quixotic quest to discover Kava.

For those of you who know not of the roots of Kava, a quick a dirty summary here:

Medical literature sometimes claim it has a "potential for addiction" because "it produces mild euphoria and relaxation" In a traditional setting, a moderately potent kava drink causes effects within 20–30 minutes that last for about two and a half hours, but can be felt for up to eight hours. Some report longer term effects up to two days after ingestion, including a feeling of mental clarity, patience, and an ease of acceptance. The effects of kava are most often compared to alcohol, or a large dose of diazapan. The sensations, in order of appearance, are slight tongue and lip numbing (the lips and skin surrounding may appear unusually pale); mildly talkative and sociable behavior; clear thinking; calmness; relaxed muscles; and a sense of well-being.

Nakamals, or "Kava Bars", are establishments that sell the traditional kava beverage. This concept originated in the Republic of Vanuatu, particularly the capital, Port Vila. A typical scene at one these Nakamals would be one that, a patron comes to bar, orders his kava and then proceeds to find a comfortable place to "listen to the Kava" (enjoy the effects).

This Quest for Kava has had me enlist friends as far away as the U.S Virgin Islands to send me four carved coconut bowls, buddies who once worked at PIANGO to warm me about Kava, and of course the Kava.

This sample came directly from Fiji - by way of the 2010 DEMA show in Las Vegas, and then to the offices of PADI, who then sent it to Southern California into the hands of Richard Theiss, who then sent this fine sample of native (and one hopes very potent) Kava to my home.

Ahhhh Kava.

Thanks to Da Shark for supplying the goods, and to Budd Riker who acquired it at DEMA and then reacquired it at the PADI Corporate offices, and thanks to Richard Theiss for the final Hail Mary Fed Ex pass and it's happy Kava-rific arrival today.

Never in the history of a single native drink has so much gone into one mans quest for the ultimate experiment. It has been quite a journey, frankly I had assumed all was lost when it got waylaid at the PADI offices.

Now it is on to the Kava drink itself, lovingly cured in hand carved coconut shells, and drunk with expectation and I might add some trepidation. If you're not so sure read Maarten Troosts series on Kava...we'll let you know how it all ends.

Patric Douglas CEO

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