Harmonising and shaking my hips

Most people would know that when you return from a holiday or time spent away it’s usually life changing, inspiring, shocking, tough, challenging or heart-warming.  If you strike it lucky, it’s all of these.

Before I left to Kiribati, I wrote on this blog that I was going so I could ‘feel’ I-Kiribati.  I wanted to absorb every little bit of the culture that I could get my hands on.  This however, is a little bit hard when everyone tries to treat you as a guest and is absolutely mortified when you want to learn how to catch and gut the fish, not just eat it.  I stopped counting the amount of times my uncle would laugh and brush me off when I asked him why he wouldn’t let me help dig up shellfish for that days lunch.

What they did let me do is learn how to sing and dance.  As soon as I mentioned that I wanted to learn I had teachers coming out of my ears.  For one single dance (the first traditional one I have ever learnt) I had five aunties, my grandma and my Mum teach me.  Admittedly, there were times that I found this incredibly frustrating because each teacher would have a different opinion as to where my arms should be held, where my head should be, how low I bend my knees etc.  Poor Mum got the brunt of my bad mood one day when I had lessons for 7 hours straight with 7 different teachers all with 7 different opinions.   It ended up me doing a double act of a smiling ‘oh yes, okay I’ll do it that way, thanks so much’ to all the extended family and then a death stare and harsh whispering of ‘shut up, I don’t give s**t what you say!‘ to Mum.  Sorry about that.  Maybe I would have been more polite if I had been allowed to eat.

So rather than try and explain to you how life-changing this trip was, I thought I would try and show you.  I have taken countless amounts of footage on the islands which will one day be turned into a doco, but for now, these clips are just for your viewing.

For those that know me well, they would know that for some odd reason whenever I sing along to any music, I always harmonise to the tune.  Even if there is no harmony part, I do it anyway.  Wonder why? This first video explains it all.  Hell yeah I’m an islander.  I filmed this one night before my dance rehearsal.  They are not trained musicians nor are they reading music or words.  For those musicians out there, notice that they signify a key change by blowing a whistle.  In Kiribati, you learn to sing before you talk.

This next video is of one of my aunties demonstrating one of the dances I will learn.

Here is the traditional Kiribati dancing that I filmed at the Catholic Church in Betio.  I don’t know if it comes across this way in the video but I can honestly say, I’ve never seen men dance so manly in my life AND they are wearing skirts.  The girls are so naturally beautiful with their gorgeous hair, perfect skin and curvy bodies.  Such beautiful people.  I still get goosebumps watching them.

This final video is of me having crack at this whole shaking of the hips thing.  This was at a big function for the KPC church in Bairiki.  I’ve tanned up a bit from the sun so try and pick me out!

If you didn’t pick me out, it’s because you didn’t see my nose.  Everyone on the island would say ‘her body is islander, her hair is islander, her skin is islander but where the hell did she get that nose?’.

Thanks Dad 🙂

Go on, have a laugh about my nose.  The whole country certainly did.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. kiribatitours says:

    Love it

  2. plumeofwords says:

    Gorgeous post, love it! I suspected the harmonising was an islander thing 🙂 xx

  3. Caz says:


  4. hugh davies says:

    What’s wrong with my nose?

  5. Dennis Pack says:

    Love your writing and insight … will follow avidly!

  6. PasifikaObserver says:

    Very interesting. Would love to read more on Kiribati’s culture and traditions!

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