Bula from Fiji

Trip Start Jul 26, 2004
Trip End May 31, 2005

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Flag of Fiji  ,
Thursday, September 9, 2004

It's been a few weeks and We're sure that you are all going through withdrawal...where, oh where could they be?...what are they up to?...

Relax, enjoy a cold beverage and read on...

After three flights and 21 hours of travelling we arrived in Nadi, Fiji at 5:10 AM! It took us a few days to get our act together but we made it to our first real stop:

...The Yasawa Islands. We took a catamaran out to a couple of islands for some fun in the sun. First stop Naviti, a hilly island where we relaxed and melted into "Fiji time". Most of this was spent on the beach, in the sun and on various hammocks around the island. From there we jumped to one of the most northerly islands, Nanuya Lai Lai, which is best known for having the film The Blue Lagoon filmed there. Both islands were post cards come to life, with beautiful green-blue water, white sand beaches and great snorkeling. We also had our first kava ceremony. Kava is a local root ground into a powder, run through a dirty cloth with water and consumed in large quantities. It knocks the Fijians out but just numbs our tongues and put us to sleep.

As difficult as it was, we left the islands and made it back to the mainland where we had arranged to stay in a couple of villages. The time spent there was life changing...

We went into the highlands and stayed in the village of Abaca (population 83 people - 20+ mangy dogs) with a Fijian family. We lived in their home, which was 10 feet by 15 feet and made out of tin. No electricity, no flush toilets, no furniture, no fridge, no motor cars, not a single luxury. And why would we want to do this some of you are asking? To experience real Fiji.

You take your shoes off when you enter their homes (we made that mistake ONCE!) and sit on the woven mat floors, which are on the hard ground. For meals, they take out a cloth and we sit cross-legged and eat. All the food is fresh and cooked on a hotplate, and yes- it was amazing. The quantities they gave us were unreal- and it is rude to decline,"eat, eat more" (it would put a Jewish mother to shame). One lunch had eight different servings of food - all for us. They would wait until we had begun before they ate. We each gained 5 pounds. When it was time to sleep, we would clear away the tablecloth, put down our pillows and sleep all six of us in this tiny little shack. On Sunday we even went to church with them...that's right, no typo - Lara has been converted (Ha).The family was so warm, kind and generous- we really felt a part of it.

We went on hikes to see a waterfall and enjoy the food they were growing in their plantations (citrus fruit, papayas, etc). One day we climbed to the top of the mountain that the village lay in the shadow of...our escorts were 15 Fijian kids, of all ages, racing us to the top. We wore hiking boots and struggled up the steep pitch. Them, barefoot or wearing flip flops and zipping by us.

Our next stop was another village named Navalla (population 600) on the other side of the mountain. There we stayed in a lodge on the outskirts of the village with another very warm family. We enjoyed more home cooked meals and an intimate kava ceremony that put us all to sleep. We went for a tour of the village with our host. This village was different in many ways but most significantly: all of their houses were thatched bures laying beside a river. Beautiful! The day we went it just so happened to be the first day of school after a two week break. When they found out Chris was a teacher, he ended up in a grade 5/6 class teaching Fijian students English. He was their literature teacher for a while and met with other teachers. It was a very interesting experience. The school was 1-8 and over 100 students and no electricity. Chris had 18 students in his class and they were kind and a little scared of him. Most of them had never left the village, nevermind being taught by a white guy with funny hair. It was an amazing experience.

So far these are the things we learned about travelling....
1. We have to get used to burrowing down our pants to get money (our money pouches are down there)
2. Really large cockroaches like to hang around toilets
3. Sleeping on a mat on the floor isn't as uncomfortable as you think, even with four snoring people lying next to you.
4. Everyone in Fiji seems to have roosters
5. Roosters don't only crow when the sun rises. 2 am in the dark is a perfect time for them to belt it out
6. When hungry enough dogs will eat their own feces
7. Men look good in sulus (sarongs). Really! (especially Chris)
8. Four wheel drive vehicles are not the only things used to climb steep, winding hills. A city bus will do just fine.
9. If you go to Fiji just for the islands you are missing the real heart of the country.
10. Fiji only has two locally brewed beers and they're really not that good.
11. We're still in love with each other (not sick of each other yet...)

We will upload some pictures next time we have accessibility ( we're not sure when that will be.)

Next stop New Zealand. I hope those Kiwi bastards are ready for us...
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