Fiji Part 2: Tell me, do you like Negroes?

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Jun 09, 2007

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Flag of Fiji  ,
Monday, November 27, 2006

First stop after a week on the outer islands is the town of Nadi. We've realized that after a weeks tropical paradise we require a strong fix of urbanisation and can't live without aircon, traffic fumes, concrete and cappacino at awkward times of the day! Following an intense hit of urban sprawl we headed off to 'The Coral Coast' on the south of the main island. Not quite the isolated paradise as before but lovely all the same. A nice beach front bungalow, sandy beach, diving and an ice cold beer at sunset is an easy agenda to keep to even for the hardened urbanite. Oh yes, and an end to the constant 'James Blunt' (isn't that rhyming slang?) that powers out of the cafe's of Nadi town centre: 'your beautiful, its true'......SHUT UP!!!

Tropical paradises aside though, we are learning a few nuances of the local people in true Paul Theroux style. In particular, we've become aquatinted with what is called 'Fiji Time'. Some might tell you this is a romantic notion of the laid back approach to life that most South Pacific Islanders have adopted. For example, it's late: 'ahh, Fiji Time', it's not even turned up: 'ahh Fiji Time', it's generally shoddy: 'ahh Fiji Time!'

No it isn't - it's crap and infuriating and for some reason only works one way. It's 10am and it's checkout: 'can we have a nother 30 minutes?, you know, Fiji time?'
'Can you $#@$!, you check out late, you pay!'

Pull your finger out and stop wasting my precious time - arrrghhhh! All we can say on this, is thank god (or Vishnu) for the Indo-Fijians. About half the population are of Indian descent, have a good working knowledge of market economics and the concept of a service industry and generally ensure that the country actually operates properly! However, this oil and water approach to multiculturalism does have the effect of political destabilisation. As of writing this, the country is on the verge of a military coup and as all things Fijian, it tends to follow racial lines. However the good news is that the coup won't be happening until next week as the head of the military has to go to a family christening in New Zealand!!! Did I hear someone say 'Banana Republic?'

Enough social commentary (for now). It turns out, you can have too much of a good thing and sitting by a beach all day did get a tad boring so off we went to hire a car for the day - from an Indo Fijian, obviously! Not quite the Ford Mustang but the Toyata Yaris certainly pulled it's weight for the day.

The highlight of the day trip (apart from NOT being mashed into a pulp on the Fijian roads) was trip to the local waterfall. Requiring quite a long trek through the jungle, we were assigned a 16 year old girl from the village as our guide. Through the streams and tropical forest we walked whilst chatting about the usual, what do you do at school?, what do you want to do when you grow up? etc. The young guide reciprocated with questions about England and other foreign places only to conclude her tour with the question: "Tell me, do you like Negroes?". In reference to her ancestral routes, my first thought was "to eat?", but I didn't say this. She followed by telling us that she thought that 'Europeans' didn't like Negroes. What an interesting education she must be having we thought. After a brief interlude (Nikki was actually stumped for words!) we replied. Not to cause offence we told her that London was a melting pot of people of ethnic backgrounds who lived together in such large numbers that they had to all get along well, most of the time. Next question was a little more agreeable, "do you want to buy a pineapple?"

Back to the trip then. After 2 weeks in Fiji, Nikki has started to go Troppo: 'I'm hot, I'm irritable and you're in my way!', the Christams carols set to reggae are starting to wear thin and the cockcroaches are being fattened up for the festive season. Therefore it's time to up-sticks and head south to New Zealand, the land of temperature climates and cheap Internet cafe's (hence this un-ending ramble). Hopefully 'blog' soon with tales of bubbling mud, Hobbits and inappropriate relationships with sheep.

Giles & Nikki.


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