Suva, Fiji

Hello! I added the archive of this site to the main page. So you can now see the postings in month-by-month order. This will make more sense later on as the number of postings per page is limited at 20.

We are in the capital city of Fiji, a city of about 150,000 people. The city is about the only one of its kind in the South Pacific (not counting New Zealand and Australia). It is quite busy and actually has skyscrapers (well, large buildings anyway). The city has grown a lot recently, with shanty towns appearing on the hillsides as people from the villages move to the city. These shantytowns and the lush green hillsides remind me of someplace in South America, like Brazil or Colombia.

Last week we went to Naviti island which is in the Yasawa chain of islands. These islands were just opened to tourism a few years ago. The “resorts” are all of the eco-tourism variety. Whereby, local villages run the resorts and there is a minimal impact on the islands. What that means is that there is only electricity for 4 hours a day and no hot water. On the upside, you meet all the villagers, who are very fun-loving and the organize lots of activities like snorkelling, fishing, basket weaving, and kava sessions. Kava is a drink (non-alcoholic) made from the pounded root of the piper mystheticum plant. The roots are first pounded in a mortar and pestel and then strained through cloth. The drink is put in a large bowl. And the person leading the ceremony hands out bowls of the drink to everyone seated in a circle. It is customary to say “bula” and clap once before drinking and then to clap 3 times after drinking. By the end of the session most of the clapping has stopped. The drink tastes chalky and bland. When you drink it it makes your lips numb and drinking several cups of it make you feel like you are mildly stoned (I only have to guess what that would be like ;>). The Fijians can drink over 40 cups of it and the sessions often go on all night. The next morning you awake feeling tired. Cheryl and I partook of the session for a few hours, until we could not stay awake anylonger. We heard it went on until 3 AM!

We were planning on spending 4 nights on the island, but the heat started getting to us, and the thought of an air-conditioned ferry ride back to the main island started sounding very appealing. We stayed with “Momma” for another night (in the marble house!) and took a local (all stops) bus that took FOREVER to get us to our destination, a slightly run-down motel called Vilisites. The restaurant in the motel was quite good (although expensive by Fiji standards) and the room had seen better days. The next day we took a minibus to Suva. One of the ladies from the motel flagged the minibus down from the road, and we packed into the vehicle with all the rest of the locals heading to town. As we arrived at the suburbs of the city, the van suddenly veered off the road and the driver pulled into a side rode. Suddenly everyone was getting out and Cheryl and I were confused as we were nowhere near town. A taxi came by and we took it. The driver told us that they minivan was illegal and there was a roadblock ahead, that is why we were ditched at the side of the road. Oh, that is nice to know.

We are waiting at our lovely refuge in the mountains above the city for 2 more nights, as the bus to Ovalau (another island we are visiting) does not leave until Wed. the 5th. Oh well, I don’t mind as it is the nicest place we have been and such a bargain at Fiji $45/night (USD $22). The owner calls it the “Hotel California” — “…ou can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave…” — We are beginning to see why.