Kandavu, Fiji

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Jan 13, 2009

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Flag of Fiji  ,
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

After an hour flight in a 6 seater plane and an 1.5 hr boat ride to the island of Kadavu (pronounced kan-da-vu), we were greeted by Waislema resort owner, 'Mo' and her friendly Fijian staff. After settling into our thatched roof bure (hut), we soon found out that as of the next day, we'd have the entire resort to ourselves for week! This made our stay feel much more like a homestay - which we loved! We made friends with all the local Fijian's that worked at the resort starting with the first night when we all hung out drinking beer and playing guitars on the beach. They encouraged us to visit their nearby villages, which we did. The first visit was to a village 20 minutes down the beach that required a short but challenging hike across rocks before the tide came in. A side note -- since the entire island didn't have much in the way of roads, everyone walked to get places (mostly along the beach) so their entire lives were ruled by the tide (instead of what we're used to - traffic hour!). When we were close to the church, we were summoned by a man standing in front of his bure motioning us over. We told him we were looking to attend the church service and he said sure, come on in and wait. It was a hot day and we had never seen the inside of a typical Fijian homestead, so we were psyched about the invitation! We were greeted by the man's family and offered water. We sat there waiting and checking out village life around us through the open doors and windows. Everyone seemed to be getting ready for church. This was an event that no one seemed to miss. Then we were told 'let's go!'. Once at the small church, we were given seats right behind the children and across from what seemed to be a group of people that were getting ready for we didn't know what...Then the service began with the group across from us singing the most beautiful music you could imagine. It was amazing that only 10 people could create such volumnious sound! After an hour and a half of prayers and singing (we were lucky enought to be blessed during the sermon) we made our way back home.

The other visit was to a village 45 minutes away where we met the village chief, shared Kava with him and the village men, then were wisked away by Kara (one of the villagers who worked at Waisalema) to tour the rest of the village. We saw the school, met many villagers, some of whom were busy making grass mats, visited the community center and finally the church. Everyone was so friendly! Then we were picked up by boat to go home again.

One of the keys about Fijiians is that they are truly glad to meet you and are not trying to sell you something or in otherways get something out of you. Having done a lot of travelling we both think they are just about the friendliest people around. We asked one of our friends about this and his reply was "my great great grandfather used to eat people so we have a lot of making up to do" ;)

Another highlight of Kadavu was Jen getting her diving certification. Again, because we were the only ones there, so she was given 1:1 instruction by Sharon in the Astrolab Reef, one of the largest protected reefs in the world. In a matter of days, she was introduced to a most amazing undewater world. We saw coral of every color, white tipped reef sharks, lion fish, puffer fish, xmas tree worms, bright blue starfish, trigger fish and others. It was amazing!

Our stay was extended involunarily by one day due to a plane who's tire popped which shut down the only runway on the island for a day. Luckily a peacecorp guy that we started talking to told us about his friend's new "resort". Bai's place is basically his house as it looked like he kicked a few of his grandkids into a tent in order to make room for us. His whole family was welcoming and gave us a great meal. The next day he showed us around his farm and property; introduced us to his 97 year old mother who was chopping up grass with a machette under the noonday sun; and let us snorkel. He actually "owns" the whole island due to his great great grandfather trading a schooner for it with a local chief. The experience was a great end to our experience on Kandavu which was pretty cultural even though we didn't anticipate it to be so.

Thanks to our friends at Waisalema and Bai we had a magical experience in Kadavu.
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