Suva, Fiji.

Well, it has been a long time, hasn’t it? We both feel as if we have been neglecting our duties! However, we were on a small island for four days (without internet access) and traveling for one, so that leaves us accountable for maybe two.

Right now we are staying at a place called Rain Tree Lodge ( in Colo i Suva. It’s about five minutes from Suva city. We arrived here yesterday afternoon and went into the city for a few hours…it’s actually pretty cool. It’s more like an American city than Nadi is and much less claustrophobic. There is a small warf or port and some produce markets and small shops and big supermarkets and cafes, etc. etc. Casey and I both like it a lot better than Nadi!

It’s strange, though, because we had been warned by various Fijians that Suva is a very dangerous place and that we should be very, very careful. One taxi driver told us how much he loved Suva and that it was such a great place and then I mentioned to him that we had been told it was dangerous and what did he think, and then he proceeded to tell us that we shouldn’t go out at night and that we would be targets and that they rob you in the public toilets for 90 cents at a time. It was really very funny…We were wondering if perhaps they’ll give you change if you only have a dollar on you? And we didn’t AT ALL get a bad vibe from the place (don’t worry, mam!)!! So, we’ve come to the conclusion that by Fiji standards it can be a bit rough (especially if you don’t live in a big city) but that by American standards, it’s pretty normal for a capital city.

Rain Tree Lodge is really nice and well taken care of and pretty new. There’s a big restaurant on the premises and they have laundry service and room service…there are a few dorm buildings and some private bures and a few double rooms situated in mini-dorms…Casey and I have the double room. So far, no one else is in our building so it’s really quiet and nice and private. We were playing pool in the restaurant/cafe area today, and we saw a bunch of new people checking in and we were worried that “our” space was going to get crowded, but when we went back into our place there were no signs that any one else (besides the cleaning person) had been there…there is only one bathroom and five bunk beds, so we figure if more than two or three people check in while we are here, we will try to move to one of the bures. However, it’s nice to be getting the privacy for only $45 a night.

The lodge is built in a lodge-y style (imagine that)…it’s made of wood and painted dark brown and green. We were really happy when we first saw the place–Mama at Tropic of Capricorn recommended it to us. As she said, “I can recommend this place only…if you stay in any other place in Suva, you take your lives into your own hands.”!!!!!!! Wow, huh? That’s the reaction we’d been getting when we would tell people we were heading to Suva. Pretty ominous. Apparently, “mama” knows the guy who owns it–I think he’s Australian. The people at the front desk are really helpful and knowledgeable, and there’s a night security guard. The buildings on the property are surrounded by tropical plants and trees, and there’s a few small lakes with lily pads and fish in them (carp and tilapia). They say you can swim in them during the day (I’m not sure what happens at night) but I wouldn’t…they are 110 feet deep and somewhat opaque. You never know what lurks below the surface. Down the road is the Colo i Suva rain forest park…as we drove here we passed a bunch of typical Fijian neighborhoods, and then turned into the gate and it’s like-ahhhh, and oasis of lushness and newness. I must say that I was happily surprised!

I am happy because (so far) I have seen only a few small, small spiders and two bugs that may be roaches, and Casey is happy because we have a tv and the bed is comfy and, since I like the place, I am sleeping under the covers and not in the silk bed liners that we bought for the trip. If I feel uncomfortable in a place (um, bug-wise or feel that the sheets may not be clean) I sleep in the liner no mattter how hot it is, and have been waking up drenched in sweat (nice, huh?). When we went for our Yasawa (Naviti) Island adventure we had the Night of the Thousand Insects. It was our second night on the island and we came back to our bungalow from dinner. As I put the key in the lock I noticed whart looked like worms crawling around the door edges….Casey was like, those aren’t worms, they’re milipedes and they can bite you. Hm. So we smashed a few and went inside, and found one in the shower (smash!) and a few minutes later, one crawling towrads me in the middle of the room (Smash!) and then, at the same time, one coming out from under the couch towards Casey’s bare foot (smash!). And then I went to brush my teeth, etc. and get ready for bed when I heard Casey get the bug spray (I came prepared) and I was like, are you using the Solarcaine? (He’s growing his beard and as it comes in it’s been itching, and we’ve discovered that Solarcaine is great for stopping the itch.) He was like, yesss…no, actually I saw a bug run under the bed. And I said, What Kind of bug? Casey: A Cockroach. Urgh. I knew that I would have a hard time sleeping if we didn’t kill it, so I looked under the bed with the flash light and then lifted the mattress (Casey and I have since learned that it’s best not to look too hard under and into things) and there was this HUGE, BIG roach under the wooden slats. I screamed and sprayed and Casey jumped up…and we lifted the whole mattress up and I was like, you didn’t tell me that it was gigantic…and then we saw another one, but smaller, and Casey was like, that’s the one that I originally saw! Ahh. So, Casey finally smashed the big one, and sprayed the hell out of the smaller one (which was scurrying away out of sight) and when we put the mattress back down, frazzelled (sp) but triumphant, out comes a coconut spider. Casey smashed it and swore to me that he had killed it (although the body had fallen under the bed). So, that night was definitely a hot, sweaty night for me inside the silk liner. When we awoke the following morning, Casey saw a milipede crawling on the mosquito netting above his head.

After he killed it, he went back to sleep but I started to get ready for the day (only cold water for the showers on the island but it was so hot that it actually felt good). I overheard our neighbor (a really nice older man from Australia) talking to someone and the person telling him that the night before, a couple of girls had found a tarantula in their room and slept on the beach. That morning at breakfast I heard that one of the girls had been in bed and heard a plop and that the tarantula had fallen on her mosquito netting! Wow, I really would have had a heart attack. That was one of the freakiest nights so far.

One of the things I’ve been noticing about Fiji is that most of the houses have barbed wire around them. It’s really bizarre because it seems so unnecessary…Casey says he thinks they have it because of the coups (sp?) that they had a couple of years ago and that there’s a great possibility that they will happen again. But it all seems so laid back, too…people are always smiling and saying “bula” (Hello) and the people we come into contact with really seem as if they are concerned and interested in our welfare. It’s nice.

The weather is much cooler here in the south…Nadi and the island that we were on (Naviti) were so hot–even Casey couldn’t take it. As we headed south we both noticed that, although it’s still very warm by Bay Area standards, it’s not overwhelming. It’s more humid (especially up here in the rain forest) and it sprinkles every now and then.

Time for me to get off the internet! I’ll let Casey fill you in on our Naviti Island adventure.