While the lovely and entertaining K13 is off partaking in the sand, sun, mini golf, shopping, the all-you-can-eat buffets and many other things that
In 2007, I was fortunate enough to visit the tiny Micronesian
Upon our arrival in
As I’m contemplating the situation before me and trying not to stare, he lets a gigantic spit ball fly from the corner of his mouth, which lands squarely in a nearby bucket with a splash. *ewww* I’m trying my damndest not to offend this man with the look of repulsion on my face, but seriously, I couldn’t figure out WTF was wrong with him?
When he realizes the stunned woman before him is staring, he smiles once again and offers me some of his “stash” and apologizes for not offering me some sooner. I graciously decline and quickly move along, so that my friends can partake in this new, visual cultural experience.
I soon learn his “stash” is a local
narcotic delicacy called betel nut and it is chewed like tobacco; however it’s made of the nut from a palm tree, wrapped in betel leaf and seasoned with ground limestone, cloves and ground tobacco. Chewing it provides a mild euphoric feeling, heightened awareness of your surroundings, tingling limbs, increased body temperature and even a sense of arousal. Hmmm, as interesting as that concept may be, I could not imagine sharing a French kiss with a betel nut chewer. I would rather lick the shoe of someone that cleans horse stalls for a living. Prolonged use however causes red teeth, red gums and eventually tooth decay. Beautiful…
It soon became apparent that betel nut use was widespread – everywhere we turned, we were greeted by warm (slightly high), welcoming individuals, both young and old, men, women and children - all with nasty smiles.
As part of our visit to
As I’m not one to back away from a challenge (or a dare), how could I possibly pass up the chance to try some mild narcotic? How bad could it be - all the locals are doing it? They wouldn’t offer it to tourists, if it could kill them right? Four year olds are doing it – what’s the risk? Turns out – only 3 people in our group of 16 were up for the challenge. “Chicken-asses”, I said. In hindsight, they were the wise ones and I was the dumbass.
Moments before the ceremonial dance was about to begin, the etiquette of betel nut chewing was explained to us – basically chew it, but do not spit it out during the performance or you will be considered disrespectful. Easy enough, right? No, I was absolutely wrong!
I pop the betel nut in the side of my mouth and begin to chew, but the instant I do I have an overwhelming urge to spit the thing from my mouth, as the taste is revolting, my lips are becoming numb and I no longer have feeling in the inside of my mouth. As we are seated within a mere 2 feet from the dancers, spitting it out is not an option, so I try to focus on videotaping the experience while holding the disgusting wad inside my mouth – all while red drool is escaping my lips and running down my chin and onto my white t-shirt.
In addition to not being able to feel my lips, I suddenly realize that my ears are ringing, my face is burning, my heart is racing, I could no longer successfully move my arms or legs, my vision had become blurred and I could feel my consciousness slipping away. “Shit”, I thought to myself, I’m going to faint!
In my semi-conscious state, I realized that if I didn’t get rid of that betel nut immediately, I was going to pass out. Without trying to draw attention to my perilous state, I slowly begin lowering the video camera to my lap. My husband leans over and asks “what are you doing? Why aren’t you videotaping?”
In my impaired state, I think that my husband is an absolute idiot for not caring about me, but that’s a discussion I couldn’t possibly have with him at that moment, so I manage to whisper in a slurred voice, “I’m going to die”. I then lean over and spit the wad between my feet. Unfazed by my distress, he whispers back “If you do that, the village Chief will most likely try to give you mouth to mouth. Look at him smiling at you.” *shit*
For the next
hour 10 minutes, I fought to maintain my consciousness, with one stubborn thought - “Screw you Angel of Death. I’m not prepared to die in the middle of nowhere and I’m certainly not prepared to be given mouth to mouth from anyone on this damn island”.