On Pentecost, we drink kava. Pentecost produces huge amounts of kava for immediate consumption and for sale to other islands, Vila and a very small portion as export. When Man Pentecost has had a bad day, he heads to the nakamal to work his frustrations out on a kava grinder and relax with a shell or six. He does not grab a beer. Beer is for special occasions and is drunk with intent to get good and drunk.
The French officers were not impressed with kava. They wanted their beer. So, they went to the big store and bought beer. They bought up all the beer that wasn’t Tusker (local beer, worse than Coors Light); that is all 32 cans. Yep, that was all the beer in Central Pentecost. It didn’t take 7 army officers to go through 32 beers. In fact, it took about four days. The ship doesn’t come through for another week, and even then there is no guarantee of beer.
They were extremely kind and shared their beer with us, but I think we finished it. On Tuesday, they bought all the Tusker at the big store, all 18 bottles of that.
Because I am in Vila, and because they were nice to me and I like to help, I offered to try to bring back some beer. Now, I’m flying which means I have a 5 kilo carry-on limit and a 10 kilo checked baggage limit. Then I have to pay overage. I explained that situation to them via Hannah who was kind enough to translate.
After much discussion, they decided that yes, I should bring back beer. After some more discussion, they decided I should bring back as much beer as I could get on the plane and they would pay whatever overage to get beer. That conversation took about fifteen minutes. At the end of it, I was also asked to bring back 10 rolls of garbage bags.
Before I wandered off, the doctor came sidling over to me. He speaks English, though he speaks slowly. He asked me, “Do they sell rum in Vila?” I said they do. He asked me, “Do they sell white rum in Vila?” I said they do. He asked me, “Can you bring me back a bottle of white rum?” I asked what size. He said 1 liter. He thought about that a bit more and asked me, “Can you bring 2 bottles of rum?”
I guess I am now an alcohol importer for the French army. It will be really interesting trying to get all this on the plane. The rum can go in my carry on with all my clothes and I won’t let them weigh that. The beer is a different story. I think I’ll have to borrow the medical office’s scale to find out how much a box of beer weighs, in kilos. Then I’ll have to print off or write a bunch of signs with my name on them and tape the boxes up well enough that they will not be recognizably full of beer. I’ve shipped stuff in alcohol boxes before, but I’ve never shipped the actual alcohol.