Friday, May 25, 2012

K is for Kava

K is for Kava, or rather KK is for Kava Kava. The drink so nice you need to say it twice. Egypt is not normally the country that would come to mind when hearing Kava mentioned, but it is a place of fine memories for me. My first real world deployment while serving with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was to the Sinai Peninsula. We were part of the Multinational Force & Observers. The MFO is a joined task force composed of twelve military units from twelve different countries.

We were there for the Millennium, and the Big Memo! It's all old news nowadays, but it was a pretty big deal at the time. I worked in the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) which is kinda like in the movies when the Generals are in that big control room with all the computers, maps and communications equipment, except in reality it's not actually anything like that at all. It was a very small room only big enough to fit about four at a time, there was a Microwave radio, an antique short wave (that only I knew how to use because of a non related hobby) and a few old rotary phones, one of which was red, and only received incoming calls from [this designation has been intentionally left blank]. What really sucked was having to put up and take down all twelve of those damn flags Not shown in the picture!

We were stationed in South Camp which is nestled between Sharm el-Sheikh and Naama Bay. Which is not really a bad place to be as both of those are primarily tourist traps for divers. South Sinai has a cool coastal reef, which makes for very cool diving. I spent every free moment of time snorkeling along that reef and saw some amazing fish, a few reef sharks, came face to face with a Lion fish which I didn't know could have killed or seriously injured me, saw a HUGE Moray eel, and had a close encounter with a Barracuda, and I'm not ashamed to say I peed a little when it made eye contact with me.

But I wasn't alone. After the Barracuda made me realize how small, slow and tasty I was, I headed to shore to smoke a cigar (Cuban!) and I was followed out of the water by about half the the Fijian Army contingent, who also need to calm there nerves. We sat and smoked, talked about the big fish with the big teeth, then the conversation moved in to tattoos which was inevitable as we all had about twenty different tats each. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew I got invited to their party. That's when I had my first drink of Kava.

I had to admit that the obviously big cheesy grins on those really big huge guys made me a little nervous, but I didn't pee, I swear. The roots were mashed in a giant mortar and pestle that was made in a welding shop. The first drink is always the worst, but it kinda numbs your mouth, tongue and throat a bit, which really makes communication fun and entertaining for everyone! The guys were pounding them out (literally) and I was knockin'em back. I still don't know how many I had after the first five or six glasses, or how I got back to my hooch that night. But I do remember them teaching me this really cool tribal dance where we sit on the ground in a line and play the drums on the back of the guy in front of you. Which is really fun, after a few cups of Kava.

It was a really cool/weird kind of euphoric body drunk, but my mind was still crystal clear. I remember having so much trouble trying to turn on a light switch. It was like holding a 2x4 between your neck and shoulder like the original hands free phone pose, try to turn on a light switch that sometime! Whats most remarkable was the clarity of what I DO remember. Those deep, profound, spiritual and philosophical talks that we all have when we're drunk, yeah not only did they actually make sense, I still remember them to this day. Perhaps that's what my second K post will be, a Part Two, and I pull a Paul Harvey, and tell..............the rest of the story.

Thank you Lord & Lady for Diplomatic Relations. Blessed Be.


kcs said...

just in case you wondered if anybody was reading... I'm enjoying your blog!

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Haha thanks for saying so!