Though the dances contain elements of magic, not all are performed for religious reasons. Among the inhabitants of the Trobriand islands there are a number of dances simply for pleasure, performed at special celebrations, or as a kind of courtship ritual. The men practice the dance steps outside the village, in the so-called tapioca dans. At dusk, they gather with the girls in the main square of the village, and dance together for hours. Each step has a particular symbolism. All the movements correspond to a specific wish, which is interpreted by the matchmakers. They are performed after the yams have been harvested. For weeks, these courtship dances can be seen in village after village. Now, they use foreign instruments like the guitar, which have been incorporated into the traditional rhythms, and the gentle melodies of the islands. The girls paint their faces with the symbols of their families and clans. These serve to identify them. In this way, the men of their own clan will turn their attention to other girls who they will be able to marry for these people are exogamous. The courtships end with the arrival of the rains. By that time, the matchmakers will have decided which couples can marry the next year, after having received the approval of their parents and the council of ancients, who will determine the price of the dowries and on what terms these are to be paid. The majority of the islands of Papua are coral – incredibly complex ecosystems. On a rock, polyps will nest, and then, as they die they gradually create a bone-like structure, on which others settle. In this way, over thousands of years, they form entire atolls and islands. Others are of volcanic origin. In this region, the volcanoes are of the explosive type, characterised by rapid, devastating eruptions. In just a few days, a new island can emerge from the sea, or be destroyed and disappear. The markets are the centre of life in these villages. Here, they can find all the products that make up the diet of the Papuan islanders. The people of the islands are very different from those of Papua New Guinea. Though they belong to the same country, their customs have nothing in common. Papua New Guinea is enormous, and there are stills tribes who live entirely isolated in the interior, never even seeing the sea. In the highlands, the first contacts with white men took place very recently, just 50 years ago. On the islands, things were very different. European sailors arrived there much earlier, and today cultural influences have been absorbed to a much greater extent. Something they greatly value, as well as the betel, is tobacco. This is prepared in a very rudimentary way. The leaves, dried in caves, are smoked in pipes, or wrapped to make cigarettes. Tobacco is also used in rituals, it is a liturgical element. Its smell attracts the spirits. They believe that tobacco smoke helps achieve states of communion with the other world. What is true is that when they inhale the smoke, they feel more vulnerable, more sensitive and open to receive the influence of the invisible forces that rule over the universe. In these lands, far from the madness of the West, people perceive the endless wisdom that comes from natural sources like the forest, the sea or the storms, and interpret influences which have been unable to survive in the industrial and urban system of which we are so proud. In Rabaul, they still use the sell mony or traditional currency, which they call tambu. They are small shells threaded together to make necklaces of a particular value. These shells are very difficult to find. Those specialised in looking for them consider a good average to be ten a day. They search the beach for them, and then file them very carefully, drill a hole through the middle, and thread them on bamboo strings. The measure used for each necklace is equivalent to the number of shells that fit in a small beer bottle. Each necklace has around three hundred shells. Each group of ten necklaces makes up a loloi, which has the value of thirty kinas, the official currency of the country. Though they are still used as money in the markets, in general nowadays they are used for rituals at certain celebrations, at which the necklaces are broken and the shells shared out. Great rolls, which can contain up to 90,000 shells, are very rarely broken. They are a symbol of high social status.