Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has become keenly aware that being polite can be detrimental to your health.
Nationals congressmen drank whole sakau (traditional Micronesian hippopotamus) shells in one gulp, believing it to be similar to South Pacific hippopotamus, and suffered the consequences.
For example, in Fiji, guests at kava ceremonies are invited to chug whatever is served.
However, as McCormack discovered during a visit to the local hospital for treatment of dehydration, sakau is far more potent and is recommended to be consumed.
Speaking to The Guardian on Friday, McCormack was in good spirits, saying he had shot down five hippo shells in Vanuatu the day before the Sakau experience and didn’t expect it to hit so hard.
“I was trying to pay tribute. I really took one for the Australian team,” McCormack said.
“They squeezed the juice out of the roots of these giant trees right in front of us. I thought.
“I looked over [the foreign minister] Penny Wong said, “I’m not okay.” I went squint. I really did. Then someone gave me a bucket.
McCormack was part of a bipartisan Australian parliamentary delegation touring the Pacific region. Attendees said he spent six hours on the Federated States of Micronesia’s Pohnpei island to mark his 35th anniversary of bilateral relations.
The occasion was marked by sakaw and ceremonial dances.
Although not an alcoholic, Sakau, like other kava served throughout the Pacific region, is known for its narcotic-sedative effects. When used properly, it can also help reduce anxiety and numb pain.
But when McCormack fell ill, he was in all the pain, but a member of the Australian delegation held him while he was holding a trash can in his mouth. He was eventually rescued by a car and taken to a local hospital where he was treated for dehydration and rested until it had no effect. He was later released in good health. it was done.
“I slept 14 hours,” McCormack said.
“I went from the hospital to the Australian ambassador’s house, slept for seven hours and was woken up by a text message from him. [his wife] Katherine asks if she’s okay. We texted back and forth a bit and then slept another 6-7 hours.
“I’ve never slept like this in my career as an MP. I don’t think I’ve slept like that since I was a teenager.”
McCormack missed the final leg of his bipartisan visit to the Pacific, remaining in Palikir, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, while the delegation headed for Palau.
In Pompeian folklore, Sakau was a gift from the gods. Its usage has changed over time, but it is usually served in coconut shells, the symbol of Pohnpei.
It is known to be one of the stronger kava because very little water is added to the root when making the drink. Hibiscus bark is also known for its analgesic properties. Users report a “buzz”.
McCormack said he didn’t want his experience to take the focus away from the trip itself.
“It was very valuable. The security deal with Vanuatu was very important,” he said, noting that he was not a major party politician. “Everything went very well. The countries we visited I think he really appreciated that we were talking as one.”
McCormack said he thought he would “definitely” take a sip next time instead of gushing it down.