Big Day in Bukuya

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

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Picnic
It's Saturday.  We take our morning visit to the house that has the bathroom (Heath's Fiji Mama Ni-chee) and wash up and sit to have what becomes our ritual chat with her familly. (H of HI:  I now know why our friend Justin had a Fiji momma. It's actually pretty easy. The older Fijian woman love to "adopt" foreign boys as their sons. Mine is only 49 years old, but she doesn't care about that. " You have to come back to visit your Fiji mama next Christmas, yes?" I know what your thinking, "what's my mom going to think about that?" Well she's fine with it, and wants to come along so Fiji momma can meet MOMMA. I couldn't ask for anything better.) She loves having us there.   Back at our home, Buka and the 3 little ones Dere, Mere and Miri, collect limes from the trees and squeeze us up a batch of lime-ade - lime juice and raw sugar and water, and some bananas to take with us on our hike to see the waterfall. 
Our "hike" is barefoot, thru the jungle, with the boys at the front cutting a way through with
their matchetes. (H of HI:   ok here is where i look like a wuss again. What is all this? I'm sharing all my low points it seems. But I'm telling you all of these were such growing experiences. You think your pretty tough and can handle most anything and then you go on a trek with these mountain Fiji men and reality sets in. When we came to the river they didn't want our shoes to get wet, so they said to take them off and one of them would carry them for us. I don't know if you've seen my feet, but they look like chicks feet and are not tough at all. SO as we're walking up the river looking for prawns, I am in excruciating pain walking on the rocks. I'm in imense pain but i have too much pride to say anything, though it's obvious if you watch me delicately creep along, while everyone else including Ingrid is just walking and hopping around in what, as how it should be and is for them a playful manner. We start heading back to a trail, so I look up to find the guy that has my shoes, and find that he is way up the river now and will meet us at our final destination, the waterfall. I am miserable at this point, but decide to just put the nose to the grindstone as we trounce through the jungle towards the waterfall. The hike ended up being about an hour or so, but i did find that walking on the paths in the jungle was a little bit less stressful than walking the river. When we finally got to the waterfall, you have to cross over at the top of the fall, after traversing up a narrow slippery rock ledge. Yes. I'm afraid of heights too. Not only did i almost panic on the ascent and have to hold Sevu's hand I'm ashamed to say, but I slipped at the end of the waterfall crossing, and thought I might go over. Sevu helped me back up and the end of my terror trip was almost over. The whole time I couldn't help thinking that they all must think that i need to stay back with the girls next time. But, in the end, they were always cool, and acted like it was no big deal. In the end it was a miserably wonderful trek. It really made me value their feet. I realized, if you allow the feet to adapt, they can handle about anything. On top of that, no shoe on the planet has better grip in or out of water than the bare foot. I've been working on making my feet tougher every day since! Although i did wear my shoes back down to the village. They had had enough for one day.)
 I of HI: We go for about an hour, up and down, throught the steep hillsides that they tell us is the plantation where they come everyday to work.  They grow taro, cassaba or tapioca, and kava, which
sustain the village.  If they make no money selling kava, they subsist on these hearty starchy roots.  The plantation boss disappears into the bushes and comes back with a banana for me!  It is my favorite gift.  A
little while later he disappears again and comes back with a pineapple!!  I love this man.  Meanwhile we wind up and down to the river, and the guys catch shrimp with their long shrimp spears!!  At the waterfall, we hike around and jump in and swim in a neverending staircase of pools and falls.  We set up our picnic perched on a ridge up at the top of a fall, with the water gushing by us. They clear out our spot with the machetes and strike up a fire and cook a feast of corn on the cob, taro, cassaba and shrimp, and we pass around the lime-aid -amazing - and pineapple for dessert.  It's a feast:)  And delish.  They cook it all straight on the coals, the corn is done when it's black and the hard orange kernels are chewy like corn nuts. This meal more in line with what we envisioned eating when we got here - we thought we'd eat like they did.  But part of our "admission" price included grocery money, so Melea, the first go-between in town, and I went to the store to buy supplies before we came up the mountain of what was appropriate to feed the guests and what they thought we'd like - sliced white bread, butter, eggs,chicken sausages, Maggie noodles, tea and powdered milk. Hilarious.  Oh and TP, they use pages of old school notebooks if they can't afford it. 
We laze around for hours by the waterfall - it's Saturday Funday, they do not have to work the plantation, they do not have to do anything, it's Boys Day Out:)   They are so deft with their knives - a boy gets one when he turns 19, and they use them for hacking away and trees and roots, and also for deftly peeling the skin off a taro. Skills. 
The Watertower
After the picnic, we come back and have more tea and milk and sugar, a
quick game of Trump!! (again, i can't believe we know the same card
games:)  Then we are ready for the Stairs...20 years ago the Chinese government determined the village had enough people to build them a hydro facility.  So the have electricity!  They also have the "stairs"  - 900 or so stairs up the steep hill following the hydro pipe to the top of the hill.  They use this for rugby training.  We want to climb too.  Despite the low altitude, it kinda kicks our butts:)
The view from the top looks over the village spread out across the hillside and the whole mountaain range for miles.  Rain is coming from 2 directions.  We hike the long way down and pick guava's off the trees as we go.  It's back to the playground for volleyball before the downpour! Volleyball is awesome, the "court" sits a level higher than the rugby field, and is edged by the same steep dropoff!!
All the kids are really great at vball, it's all they do when they have spare time (no tv:)
The rain turns the clay to a slick layer and we run home, again they hold us up as we climb down with their strong, patient grips.
In LA, Dan had said if we go to Bukuya, we should spend a night at the Chief's house, and must bring a gift of Kava.  By Saturday, i feel like i just want to stay "home" and spend more time with our friends.  Sat. night, we learn that the chief is off visitin another village, so i get my silent wish!! and we realize now we have a ridiculously huge kava stash that we can give to our BK family instead!!  It worked out perfectly.  They are pretty damn excited about the half kilo of kava, and David and Sevu and big Joe give a little ceremony of thanks that they perform when they receive a gift. 

We spend another night of singing and dancing.  I am wearing my Sunday Funday t-shirt and a pink sarong that Buka leant me.  I have introduced the village to some of my silly dances and the night becomes a fiesta of those, with my buddy Eli yelling Shake Shake! (you;ll see it in the video.) Heath dances a riteous jig and jumps up into the roof with his noggin:) it's hilarious.  One of the girls puts baby powder on all of our faces, it's a good luck thing.  The last farewell song is sung, the music has to stop at 11:30 in the village because midnight is Sunday a day of rest in the Methodist village. The kava bowl is empty and they say we can "take a rest now if we like." I don't read the signs very well, and I don't feel tired so I thought we'd stay up and chat some more, I didn't want this amazing evening to end:)  But then I slowly get the hint, it's time for us to retire so they can have some time to themselves.  We retire to our room behind the curtain, and the men mix up more kava and they sip and talk into the night.
We left early in the morning after another breakfast of bread and tea and milk and sugar ( 3 times a day I am an addict now) but this bread was wheat and hearty and made in the village, and the best bread we had all trip!  The goodbyes were sad, with promises to send pictures and come back and tell people to come here.  And come home for Christmas:)
I give Buka some extra money on the way out (we have a feeling that most of the money we paid stayed with Moses in the park) and Heath give Mama Niche some money for using her bathroom and to buy herself a birthday cake.  My mind starts running on all the ways to give them a little something else, and all the things to include in the care package when we send them photos.  I can't wait to put it together.  Heath is looking for a guitar for Sevu.
The ride down was so quick and comfy in a zippy little truck.

We get to the airport with a few extra hours before we need to be there but we relish in the break from interaction and just zone out.
The vision I had of our week in Fiji seems so funny now - relaxing on beaches, sipping
pina colada's on a movie-like beach scene.  
We didn't see a single other tourist.  And we drank the water.  I didn't get ill on a single thing until we got to the bloody airport and I was overwhelmed with choices and had veggie stirfry, a mini lamington cake, and a slice of pizza.  Then we got the bug.
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dcolson on

Feet of steel!
Haha! I love the foot adventure Heath! Just think when you come back to town you will be able to jump up and down on Junko's foot torture machine, and go climbing with me! :) I am loving the entries, reading every single one. I have to admit it makes me tear up to read a lot of them. It's all so simple and happy like life is supposed to be. I am so very happy for you two. K back to reading more. ;)

prish on

I have to agree. Its like reading a book that you can't put down. I look forward to all the new entries.

hilivin on

Re: Feet of steel!
Thanks Devin, they're getting tougher every day! I really have been walking on rocks and whatever other torturous objects i can find, every day. It's kind of an obsession now. I also like humping on rocks everyday...well at least today.

Save on

well thats very truethey have we live life here in Fiji its very simple with freedom and peacefull environment.

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