We are back from Ovalau. Levuka (the old capital of Fiji and the main town in Ovalau) is a small town that reminds me of a U.S. fishing village; there’s the (not unpleasant) fishy smell of the ocean, and big ships in the harbor and the dependence by the town on those ships. During low tide, the locals search the shore for mussels or go wading out into the water (with all their clothes on), and they sit on the benches that are scattered all along the waterfront and just hang out, talk and say “bula!” as you walk by. It’s a nice change from the tourist-filled areas in Fiji. Casey and I REALLY noticed when we would see other tourists…the two days that we were there, we had lunch at a (very) mediocre Chinese restaurant that was situated above a shop on the main street. One day we had a table by the window and we could see a group of people walk by and we were like, “Hmmm, tourists. I wonder where they are staying?” There aren’t that many options…it’s really either the Royal Hotel (where we stayed) or the Ovalau Holiday Resort (which the locals kept recommending to us). The Royal hotel is the oldest hotel in Fiji; fortunately, we did not stay in the original building but in a newer bungalow nearby. I have a feeling that the inside of the rooms weren’t as spacious as ours, and that perhaps the bathrooms weren’t in such good working order. Also, we overheard a older man complaining to one of the hotel employees that “Room Two was making such a commotion last night! Who’s staying in there?” And the lady told him it was an Indian gentleman, “Mr. Patrick Singh” and that he had checked out that morning. (I thought it was funny that she gave the man’s full name!) And the man asked, “Well, did he have a woman with him? Because it sounded like he had a woman with him” and the lady said, “No…but I will check on that.” “Well, he was loud, very loud.” I guess there’s not a lot of privacy in the main hotel! However, it had a nice, old-time feeling to it; hardwood floors and narrow stairways and a huge billiard table off the lobby. I think it was built around 1860…and they’ve kept it up very well.
We were going to sign up for a village tour but the only one on the island (called Epi’s Midland Tour) was cancelled for the two days we were there! So, we were quite disappointed, but found other things to do…we went to the post office, walked the main street (which takes six minutes at a fast walk, a good fifteen minutes at a slow, let’s-burn-some-time crawl), talked to some people (an Indian man who runs one of the grocery stores has a brother living in San Mateo–my home town. He said that he liked San Mateo, but it was much too fast, much too busy. He likes it better in Levuka, it’s nice and easy and you don’t have any trouble. San Mateo is a typical Bay Area suburb with a population of 90,000 and a very low crime rate!!! However, I admit that compared to Levuka, it’s a whirlwind of activity), and went swimming in the hotel pool. All three nights that we were there, we ate at the same small restaurant in town called The Whale’s Tale; it had a three course dinner for $13.00 FJD (about $7.00 US)…the food was good, and we didn’t have many other choices!
We flew back to Nausori on Friday morning, took a 30 minute bus ride into Suva, and then a four hour bus ride to Nadi. Fortunately, the plane took a mere 12 minutes! It was one of those planes that my dad calls “mosquitos”–they seat like six people and the people who check you in have to weigh you (!) along with any carry-on luggage that you may have. After the guy weighed me (with my big straw bag) I felt like saying, “It’s the bag.” Hmm.
We arrived in Nadi around four o’clock and headed (after a beer and water run) for the Tropic of Capricorn (and “Mama”). We are staying in the double room/house again; it’s nice to be in a familiar place. We had dinner last night (during which we witnessed a [very nice] English guy put ketchup on his spaghetti) at the Tropic and were both in bed by ten…ahh! Traveling takes a lot out of you (especially traveling on a Fijian bus).
Casey will explain the pleasures of traveling by Fijian bus in his next entry…