Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2010

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Fiji  ,
Saturday, January 26, 2008

H of HI: Now you remember that entry about the market, and learning about how to handle the salespersons in the towns of Fiji? Well I wouldn't say we learned a whole lot, cause the second encounter was just as bad as the first. We had just done a good job of bringing the person's price down for our trip to Bukuya, when we asked someone where to get Kava for the Village Chief. The lady referred us to her nephew Noki, (which every Fijian is related in some way by the way) who took us under his wing, gave us a free Kava ceremony that we didn't want and gave us gifts (necklaces) and then wanted too much for the Kava and wanted us to buy too much, so we got it down to a reasonable amount and didn't want to buy anything else so they wanted money for the gifts, any you know how the rest of the story goes. I'm tired of being a SUCKER!!!!!! I would say this is how I felt most of the day, dealing with the Indians & Fijians in the city.

So when we met up with our contact Moses to take us to Bukuya, and he introduces us to a lady selling Kava on the side of the street, and says "She'll take care of you from here.", I was pretty nervous. I was so easily manipulated 20 minutes earlier that I felt like we were getting shammed again. Actually in an even bigger way, because we had given him money for our travel to Bukuya, stay, food, fun & travel back to the airport. I tell you looking back though, we made what would seem to be big mistakes by most travel advice givers. But in the end, after further reflection, I think it's the fear based culture in America and my own shortcomings that caused every negative or stressful situation I encountered. The Fijians were just trying to make money in a difficult economy, and ALWAYS came through with what they promised or said. They told us to leave our stuff with them while we walked around, cause it was a very hot and sunny day, so we did. There were many times during this time that i thought, "Am I a complete idiot?", but like i said, they always came through. I would say 90% of the time, for the rest of the trip, we were not with our stuff, and nothing was ever touched. In the end, it's a poor country, and everyone is just looking to get paid for some service. I can't blame them for my inability to say no and mean it. Fiji has a slow tourist market right now because it has some political turmoil going on, but we never saw any. We just saw people struggling because of it. But they all say like John always said, "It's all good man'", in the laid back Fijian way.

After the bumpy long ride of about 3 hours in the back of an old military troops carrying type truck, ( I: and after a quick stop to chat with a man riding a horse bareback with a giant machete in his hand and a black rag on his head and 2 teeth...seriously, eeeeee) we came to the little mountain town of Bukuya. We were greeted with many friendly kids and folks living around the house we were about to stay in. They treat visitors like dignitaries, give you their bed, feed you first, focus on entertaining you the entire time. It was really quite amazing but very awkward at first. Then you just start feeling like part of the family.

I of HI:
Diving in.
Bukuya. I think back on it and it was such a rush of life! It's one of those things that you can't put into words or recreate exactly how you felt or retell in just the right way. I just love that in our first week of travelling we experienced what i didn't think would come for many months. If you can imagine how weird the set up was - we meet a guy in a park and give him money to stay with his family and see how they live. Then we rock up to the village and get handed off to complete strangers who will be our hosts for the next 3 days while we see how they live. Imagine that happening in Denver - someone wants to come home with you see how you roll? Odd concept. But for the small amount of money it brought to a very poor family and village, and the Giant amount of excitement and learning that went on during that short time, it was pretty damn incredible. (H of HI: The interesting  thing here is what Ingrid had said earlier at Club masa, that she was timid and I was comfortable talking at first. Well the exact opposite happenned in Bukuya. I had a difficult time feeling comfortable at first. Ingrid was amazing, chatting it up, asking questions, making jokes and giving them rhyming funny names within the first 5 minutes! Thanks to Ingrid! You were an exceptional ambassador!

The people are amazing. They became our friends and family. We become barefoot "floor dwellers" as every meal and gathering and guitar session and kava ceremony and night's rest was on the floor (except the 2 beds for the family heads and us, which we felt bad taking!)

Buka is our host, she is 21 and delightful. She spreads the woven palm mats on the floor and lays our tea and snack in the middle of the room, while extended family and neighbors fill the room. Everyone sits around to see what in the heck is going on. I think about 13-15 people live in this house, it's hard at first to remember all the names and relationships. The house is corrogated steel walls and roof, the doorways are just spaces in the walls, no doors, and cloth hanging everywhere to divide out the "rooms" and keep the bugs away from the children when they sleep.
Heat & Ingi
We are shy at first, just like they are, but our mutual curiosity and excitement slowly spills out, and the laughter gets louder as we get to know our new friends. They speak various levels of English, but we always find we understand each other, and most people speak as much as we do. Momo is our grandfather, and he helps us out immensely by spelling everything out loud from the background as he plays on the floor with his grandbabies. "Vinaka, V-I-N-A-K-A Vinaka, Thankyou" he is awesome:) After a while we forget any uncomfortable feelings and really any self-ish feelings at all, as our focus becomes everything about the connections and the experience. We become "Heat and Ingi." and fast feel like we are at home. And the laughing. Did I mention the laughing?! We have a ball. I talked earlier about the cheeky women in town and how they giggle all over the streets - here its everyone laughing it up in headback, mouth open, shoulder shakin laughter. Beautiful!

The Guitar
Heath busts out his travel guitar and hands it to Sevu, he's 27 and seems very serious and strong. (H of HI:  Sevu was, as Nate would put it, "my brotha from another Fiji mutha". I can't say enough about Sevu. Always polite. Always helpful. No hangups or idiosincracies of any kind. Just the kind of guy you would want your daughter to marry.) He is blown away by this little guitar, and takes it up and starts playing and singing. It's so so cool. He also plays this little song that i recognize from childhood, it's a Maori song from New Zealand that I learned in maybe 3rd grade singing class in Australia. I sing along in Maori words! How crazy that we come from 2 far away worlds and we can still sit down and sing a little song together. (I have also since learned from my NZ guide book that the song is Pokarekare Ana, a little ditty about a lady and a lake!)
The Playground
We hike up above the village to the Playground to play some rugby. The Playground is an elevated table top of hard red clay, and sometimes the ball goes over the steep side, and sometimes a player or 2 goes over with it!! They play barefoot, but some have an old shoe for their kicking foot. Heath jumps in for a little runaround. He picks it up fast but it's a lot of running around, check out the Highlight Reel video. RUN HEATH RUN! (H of HI:  Actually, I'm running pretty well considering I almost blew out my knee trying to run down the slippery, clay hill like all the Fijian men did. It was a very steep grade, but they all made it look so easy running up and down the hill. As I descended, my front foot slipped and i buckled my back leg into  hard flexion and slid to the bottom. I never thought i'd be that guy that gets injured running onto the field of play, but luckily i was really good at shaking it off, and ran around imitating rugby playing more my version of the game, which is "run around like a chicken with it's head cut off and play hot potato!" Thank goodness there was no twisting involved, so it healed up nicely over the next week or so. I think i caight the "Nimble McClumsy" disease from Ingrid. Oh no!!!!
I am perched up on the hillside with the young village boys and my camera, which becomes our entertainment for the next hour. I film them, they dance, laugh, carry on and we watch it on playback! They looove it! It's a blast;) After it gets too dark to see, we head down the hill, Sevu and the boys hold our hands with strong grip, keeping us safe. Some girls shows me a dead bat that she found and wants me to take her picture. then she asks if i want to hold her dead bat. i'm not sure why i said yes. Wretched filthy choice...did i mention FILTHY?

(H of HI:  Did we also mention that bat is a common delicacy of the mountain Fijians? Yes that's right. I feel like a wuss again because they offered to take us bat hunting and try this wonderful dish, but we declined. They say the crispy bat wings are quite a treat!

That night we sat with the men and had our welcoming Kava ceremony, the women ringing the outside of the room. I only got the low tide, since i'm a chick, and i thought about informing them that yes i was a chick but i was also a boozehound, but remembered to be respectful and shut my face:) The giant kava bowl sat on a small moped tire. David and Sevu have become our buddies, they take to Heath like a brother from another mother. David is the ambassador, and his questions always start, "So...in Amerricah..." (H of HI:  or " so, Heat, may we please play the guitar, or may we please leave the swimming hole now or whatever...", then when I would always say "Yes", he would always immediately follow with a rapid "Thank you verry much." They were always so polite and everything always revolved around us, the entire time we were there. When Ingrid describes the Last Big Night in our next entry, you'll understand why, at a certain time in the evening they are ready for us to go to bed so they can have a little bit of non entertaining time to themselves.) 
More than just talking differences, we talk about money and happiness and how they relate. The Bukuya Boys and Big Joe ( that's their stage name that i gave them) played the guitar and sang harmonies, we danced and Bula'd some Kava until it was gone. We slept deeply deeply that night.
PS if you can't see the videos imbedded here, go "see all" photos in the album and watch from there.
Technology, eggh!
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
With Buka's family in the mountain village
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


tdiddy33 on

story of a song
I love this story about how INGI and the kid both knew the Maori song !!


Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: