Thursday, December 4, 2014

Girls week in Fiji, August 21 - 29 2014

Girls week in Fiji,
While Mel is back home to attend his 50th High School Class Reunion (yes he is that old!) my girlfriend, Glenna has come to stay with me. I miss my friends and family so much while we are out sailing so I am thrilled that she is here.
This is Glenna’s first time in the South Pacific so I want her to experience it all! We have lots to do and so little time. Here are some highlights:

Snorkel trip to South Seas  Island:
Up bright and early for our cruise out to the nearby South Seas Island. This small island is run by the tour company of the same name. Here you get to relax on the beach (free beer and soft drinks yea!) Snorkel on the fabulous reef, kayak, and beach comb. It is picture perfect. Lunch is also provided and it was yummy.
This was the first time that Glenna snorkeled, and I have to say it was a very nice reef with lots of fish to see. While you can snorkel right off the beach the guides will also take you out on a boat to snorkel some very nice coral “pillars” in deeper water. The water was very clear and we saw lots of fish.
Too soon it is time to go. While we were having so much fun the wind and waves had built up to getting back onto our “Mother Ship” to take us back to Denarau was exciting. But soon we were all on and heading back.

Back on Mazu, we have invited new friends we met on the island for drinks. She is from New Zealand and he is Fijian, a student at the University in Suva. We enjoyed the warm evening with our new friends with drinks, snacks watching all the activity in the harbor, a perfect ending to a great day.

A warm welcome to South Seas Island

Market trip to Nadi and Lautoka:
I have always found that one of the best ways to immerse yourself into a culture is to go to the market. Now I don’t mean the grocery store. Most markets are open markets selling fruits, veggies, fish and handicrafts. The best day is usually Saturday so that’s when we go.
We hop on the bus bright and early. Our first stop will be Nadi. On the bus we meet a man who wants to show us a Fijian craft store run by “real” Fijians, (this seemed to be an important distinction by the man). I quickly figure out that they ride the bus to meet tourists and bring them to the store, but he is very nice and the store is Fijian run. Here we are invited to book an inland trip to the small village of Bukuya. As we had this on our list of things to do we agree to their tour and sign up for Monday. After a quick stroll through the Nadi market we board a bus to the much larger Latoka market to do our shopping.
Glenna and I have decided to prepare a Fijian meal so we are looking for unusual fruits and veggies to prepare. We really enjoy the fresh fish market and the spice vendors. We end up purchasing clams, some sort of greens that look like large fern fiddles, roasted corn on the cob, bananas.

We are very tired from the day of shopping so we head back to the bus terminal and board a bus to take us back to Nadi. And there we wait, we wait and wait some more. After about a half hour the bus finally leaves. It appears we are on the milk-run as this bus seems to be going everywhere but Nadi. We go on gravel roads into the cane fields, and around Vuda Point and then the driver stops, down this gravel road by a small shop and gets out. Must be union break time.  By now we have been on this scenic tour for almost an hour. When our driver returns I ask if we are now going to Nadi. No he grumbles, this is the Vuda Point bus. You must get off at the main road and wait for another bus. Now I am positive that when we got on our bus in Lautoka it said Nadi on it. We think that while we were waiting they changed the sign on the front of the bus…
So here we wait on the main road with our iced down clams, and all our other purchases from the day. We are unsure when the next bus will arrive, and really we are in the middle of nowhere. Soon a nice young man comes to the bus stop. He waves down a taxi and tells us we should go with him in the taxi to the airport to catch the bus to Nadi as it could be a long wait here. The driver will only charge us a dollar each to the airport, we take him up on the offer, after all,  it’s all part of the adventure… and soon we are at the airport and on a bus to Nadi, then another bus to the marina. We are home by dark but man are we tired.  No cooking tonight. We decide to just eat our corn and have a beer. Fijian corn is awful! Not the sweet corn we would eat on a lovely summer day, It is feed corn, that we would grow to feed stock, not humans. So it is cheese and crackers for dinner.

We make our Fiji feast the next day yum, yum

Inland Trip: Bukuya village

We are excited to go to our trip to  village. We are picked up by George and his wife Noti (sounds like naughty) who are from this village. This village is just starting on this endeavor of bringing in small groups of tourists to experience true Fijian village life. And we are excited to be one of the first groups.
It take about 2 hours on a hilly gravel road to get to this village. As you see from the pictures it is a very neat and pretty  village and you can tell that the Chief and families that live here take pride in their village. While poor it is neat and clean.
When we arrive we are greeted by excited children who run along the road, excited to see phalanges visiting their village. We are greeted by more of George’s relatives with pretty lei’s. We are brought to Georges home and greeted by a welcome song and a kava ceremony.
Let me explain a little about Kava in Fijian culture. It is VERY important. When you visit a village you by custom bring Kava to present to the Chief. You are them welcomed into the village (more on that later). Kava is the social drink in the villages. Both men and women will drink Kava but I notice it is more men than women.  In Fiji, the Kava only produces a mellow feeling,  it is not that strong. Oh, and let’s say it is an acquired taste, I think it tastes a bit like dirty dish-water.
So Glenna and I are here being treated like favored guests, greeted with song, and Kava. We hang out with the guys for a while doing this while the women and other male relatives are out preparing our food, (later Glenna and thought we would have liked to have been out with them for a while as we love to see how people prepare and cook food).
Soon we are served a very nice lunch. Fijian eat on mats on the floor with no utensils. Also the family shares all food. We eat with the “older women” and the men continue to play music and drink Kava. They will eat later I guess.

We are then taken by one of George’s s to tour the village and meet the Chief for a “formal” Kava presentation. There is a small elementary/middle school. Students board in Nadi for High School. Along the way we make friends with the children and give out pens and pencils.
Soon we are at the Chiefs home. They are waiting for us, already drinking Kava. The cousin is our spokesperson and will introduce us to the Chief and present our Kava. We are wearing sarongs and must remove our shoes and sit. The Chief is sitting by himself across the room and is….. playing solitaire! There is about 10 family members there. Our Kava is presented along the customary speech. It is accepted and now we are part of the village, really, we are welcome anytime if we want to stay, someone will put us up they will protect us and provide for us… not bad for a bundle of Kava…
Cousin Manny takes over the tour. He is a Third Sex Fijian, been raised as a girl, as we have seen in all the cultures in the South Pacific, too hard to explain here… google it.. He shows us the Chiefs new ceremonial thatched house (hey, why didn't do the Kava ceremony there, guess we could not interrupt the solitaire game). Then we are invited into another home for, guess what? More Kava! This family was so much fun, a relaxed group,  take a look at the pictures.
Too soon it is time to head back to Denarau. It is a long ride back. We stop for pictures at Navala Village, a traditional thatched hut village. Before long we are back on Mazu exhausted. But what a day! We really got a taste of Fijian life. They are such a friendly, generous people, living a simple life and not needing anything else, just keep the Kava coming!

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Thatched home in Navala

Navala Village

Navala Village

The next few days with Glenna are a blur, we go on a dinghy ride where Glenna catches a Barracuda (catch and release), a great seafood dinner and Meke (Fijian dance) show, I get sick and we need to visit an Indo-Fijian Doctor ($40.00 for an office visit and an injection of antibiotics), and gift shopping,  say hello again to Mel as he returns,  and then I have to say good-bye to Glenna.

Glenna, I hope you had as much fun as I did.

1 comment:

Doug and Carla Scott said...

Love all the pictures and stories. Glenna must have loved Fiji!