"Tulou, tulou," Maria chants as she runs her fingers delicately over my scalp. Her touch has a kind of softness that feels warm and familiar but also respectful.

For the past hour, Maria has been gently kneading two warm acrylic sea shells, filled with a healing potion of algae and minerals, into the tender parts of my back. She excuses herself before caressing my head.

In Fijian culture, the head is a sacred part of the body, and should not be touched without permission. Maria whispers the word "tulou" to pardon her for touching my scalp.

She is well and

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