Club Masa

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

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

H of HI:  After the market...we still needed to take a cab to Club Masa. We actually got the cab to come down a bit on his fare, so we felt pretty good about that after
the market raping from before. But when we arrived at Club Masa, we said "Where is it?" He said "Go through there." We looked over at a big cattle gate, which we soon found out was locked. But there was a bar
you could slide across and and scrouch down through the gate. As we stepped through, we started following an old dirt road along a farm area, with no view of any hotel/hostel in site. As we're walking along
3 men and a woman are walking towards us. It just so happens to be the owner of Club Masa - Marcus, John who lives at and runs Club masa, Rosa - his partner and assistant, and the New Zealander i mentioned
before Justin. They greeted us and asked if we were staying, and then decided who should go back and get us set up. If we would have showed up 15 minutes later, we would have missed them, showed up at Club Masa
and it would have looked like it was closed down, because we were the only guests, the whole time, and they would have been all gone to town!!! The reason why there is no access to Club Masa is because Club
Masa's competitor, the Inn at the bus stop, owns the land between Club Masa and the road. They want a lot of money to open it up and Marcus and the Inn owners have not been able to come up with a fair price. So
it's about a quarte of a mile walk to Club Masa from the road, but well worth it! I had read some posts in travel blogs in the past about it, but now that john is running the place, it is awesome! He keeps it clean, the food was the best we had in Fiji, everyone was very friendly, and the atmosphere is completely relaxing. We learned how to
husk coconuts and poke holes to drink the milk. We grated coconut meat out of the shell (used alot in cooking there). We surfed ( they had boards to rent), could have ridin' horses, you can do sand bogey boarding there (I wish i had a picture to share with you of Ingrid's attempt at this!).

I of HI:
Dipping our toes in.
Club Masa is chill.  It's hidden in the palm trees on the back side of the sand dunes.  Cows and horses roam all over the dunes and the fencless land, sunning themselves under the coconuts trees.  They head out to the ocean's edge at sunset in an almost eerie evening gathering. The Club is decked out in driftwood and shells and little touches of Fiji tribal art: a doorway edged in a handpainted strip of tribal patterns and a cannibal's fork;  a Neck-breaker mounted on the wall.  It's remote and relaxed, yet it's a quiet hive of activity.  John and Rosa and the village boys are constantly working and dressing up the club after the former manager's neglect - sweeping up with palm-frond brooms, replacing the roof, and repainting in bright ocean blues and greens.  But they work in a calm way, a way that lets us interrupt and ask so many questions, and lets them teach us what they're doing - we learn to climb a tree to pick out a coconut (the green/yellow ones have a thin, juicy meat in them, the dry brown ones have the thick solid stuff we're used to seeing in the store) and to husk it and poke open the eyes to drink the candy milk.  There are 3 holes in a coconut, and one of them is false.  Or so Paul the joker tried to tell me!  Again I am a sucker:)  

We find her sitting under a coconut tree (one that is "cleared" to sit under with no potential noggin busters threatening our heads) with a giant knife, peeling palm fronds to make into a coconut broom.  Check out the video of her knifing up the coconut for me with her machete.
She comes to the coconut grove weekly to collect the coconuts that have fallen and husk them, sack them up by the dozen and haul them to market.  She husks them like lightening - it took me about 5 minutes of ineffective hacking at the spike to get a small opening in the husk.  Heath husked it up in about 15 minutes.  She was done in 3 deliberate, strong moves. Then little Kesa, shorter than me and twice my age, loads a few dozen in a bag and carries them back to the village.  Heath carries them for her and it's a heavy load! (H or HI: She normally carries an even fuller bag in one hand thrown over the shoulder, while she carries her big husking rod, machete & knife in the other hand. I actually had to stop and switch sides a couple of times on our trek over to her hut. What a woman!)
I of HI:
Painting with Ivan
Ivan the18 year old village boy who took us surfing, lets me paint the walkway with him while we chat about America and his family and kava and guns - there are no guns in Fiji except for in the military (his step-dad is in Iraq).  I relax into the conversation - I feel like Heath has had a very easy time talking and talking, and i'm a little timid and tired so far.  I know it's becuase i haven't fully Jumped In yet...more on that later.  And I find that in meeting people here, I am a little anxious and I am a little fast to think the conversation is over, but really we're just on Fiji time, and more always comes and it's always so so interesting:)  Painting gives me a very simple purpose and pleasure - it's so simple and common and something I never get to do, but love the feeling of it and the newness of it.  That's when I stumble across Job Idea Number 1 -  a painter of giant wall murals.  Something to file away:)

Our Bread and Butter
We are served all our meals in the center of a large airy open yet private room.  We eat by the glow of the lantern at night and by the sun for our breakfast and lunch (which is a bonus since our $30FJ/day only covered 2 meals.)  We ask our new friends to dine with us and despite our offerings and insisting,  they do not and though it feels odd to us, we learn to leave the invitation open but to appreciate and respect their respect for their guests and the nuances of their culture.  The first late lunch we sit down to is bread and butter, and a bowl of ramen noodles ("Maggie") with some kind of meat.  I feel the effects of the last few months of beer and gluttony and think, oh sweet mother help me.  Every meal yields some version of white, or weakly wheaty starch.  Breakfast and lunch include bread and butter, rice, white noodles, and tea with milk and sugar.  Dinners include a GIANT bowl of rice, and bread and butter, and tea with milk and sugar.  But they also come with freaking amazing fish and veggies cooked in coconut milk, or chicken and veggies in a delishious spicey sauce.  Breakfasts are my favorite with the added treats of half a glorious papaya and avocado to accompany the bread, butter and tea with milk. (H: Try the avacado and papaya sammich on grain bread. It's awesome!) I:  I chuckle at the irony of our meals, and I marvel at how fast we just didn't worry about it.  We eat everything we are served with great appetite and thanks, because it's what there is, it's what they have available and can afford on the island, and because there are so many other incredible things filling our heads that our meals are welcomed to give us energy to keep up with our active bodies and our overstimulated minds:)

Edged with the peaks of the dunes, the beach is scattered bamboo driftwood and black sand.  The water at times is clouded brown with sand for a mile out, churned up from the nearby river is rushing into it.  Other times the water is the brightest blue, and despite the strong waves and currents, it is always warm and becomes our playground:)
It is Fiji's only beach break for surfing, meaning when you get tossed off your board, you land on the sand, as opposed to mincing yourself up on the reefs and rocks.  In truth, it was a thrashing.  We borrow boards and John and Ivan take us out into the frothing mashing brutal waves!   The current was killer strong, and we paddled and paddled and duckdived and paddled and wrestled our boards out into the prime surfing spot.  And proceded to get thrashed and drowned and destroyed by the waves and the current.  However I did hold on to both parts of my suit.  And I loved every second of it!  It was like we got boxed around and around, but it just helped me feel like I survived it, and shed my fear of it all.  A great time.  And I felt much better when Ivan said it was wayyyy to strong of a current for them too, and he didn't surf a single wave either:)  (H of HI: I hurt my hip and inner thigh, because the current and waves were so strong and the water wasn't very deep. I would get my leg caught trying to run back out with the current below and a strong wave would hit me high. They were just coming in too fast because of the currents and the wind. Great workout though! My injury felt better, so I tried again the next day, but it was bad timing, because there were no real catchable waves. Later, in Raglan, NZ we learned that there are a lot of things to pay attention to in order to have good conditions for surfing, like the tides, where the wave breaks, and of course currents the wind that i already talked about. I pretty much still suck at surfing at this point.)
I: And he's officially the new Nimble McClumsy!

Sand Sledding
We usually wake up to the tickling wind in the palm trees and the Moo'ing of very well enunciating cows. Capital M Moo!  We wake up on the third day to clouds and a gentle rain, which turned into a warm downpour, prompting us to disentangle from the mosquito net "princess bed," put on our swimsuits and get out in it!!  Cheeky boy John leant me his boogie board and assured me this was primo condition for sand dune sledding - something that they also advertise on the posters for Sigatoka as a hot tourist draw.  2 feet and one facefull of sand later I decided he tricked me. (H of HI: I totally missed it! I only saw her spitting sand out of her mouth, but what a riot!) I: We spend an hour in the surf like dolphins, just playing and floating around.  Instead of eating sand.
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Where I stayed
Club Masa
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