We have just finished our leg in Fiji- what an amazing country it is! The culture has a very “Island Time” feel, and the people are very laid back, open, and loving.
On our first day we had a couple hours at the resort before the leg actually started; when it did start we immediately grabbed a cab and went into town to get something to eat. One of the scavenges was to eat Kokoda or Paulsami (both local dishes), so we asked our cabbie where he liked to eat these things. He suggested Tu’s Place, so we went there.
Kokoda is wonderful! It is a raw fish, sliced thin and marinated for one hour in vinegar or lemon juice, then drained, with coconut milk and veggies added…yum! This was served with Cassava (similar to potato) and Bongo chilies (very tiny and quite spicy).
Paulsami, or better known locally as Rourou, is a local favorite, made from taro leaves, coconut cream, herbs, and onion, and served with grilled fish fillets and “miti” (a local, coconut cream-based sauce). This dish was also quite delightful!
After lunch we called our cabbie, Joe, back. When we got into the car he invited us to go have Kava (a local drink) with his friends and family in his home. He explained that they had just gotten out of church and congregate together all day after each Sunday, and that they would love to have us over! We eagerly accepted, so he drove us there.
When we arrived there were around 15 men and 1 woman present. We shook hands around the circle and then sat and talked with them and had the Kava. Kava is a local favorite and is consumed in groups on special occasions. It is a root that is dried in the sun, then ground to powder and put in cheesecloth and soaked in room temp water. They then squeeze out the cheesecloth, and there is the Kava! It is the color of dirty water and has a light but bitter taste. When you drink it it makes your tongue go numb, and the men explained that if you have enough of it it can also make your hands and legs numb. Wow! We loved it! When you drink it you clap your hands once, take the coconut bowl, say “Bula”, drink, and then clap 3 times. The reason for the 3 claps is that when you drink your mouth is full and you cannot say “thank you”, so you clap instead. It is so much fun!
We talked for around 45 mintes. They explained that Sunday is very special to the Fijians. 64% are Christian, 14% are Hindu, and the rest is Muslim. On Sunday the Christians all wear Sulus, which are skirts for men with 3 pockets in them. Their churches run differently than ours do, because the preachers rotate and you dont have a standard, in house preacher. The preacher today was a wonderful man who is in charge of the food that is on the airplanes that leaves Fiji. Everyone in Fiji is welcoming and the men who we talked to today were so open to anyone coming to them. They really live out their faith here, and it is very evident. They told us that we are family now and to “remember their gate” and come back through it when we return to Fiji!
Everyone here has a wonderful sense of humor! A couple hundred years ago the Fijians were cannibals, and they were all joking with us that the only 2 left were in the group! We said that it was incredible that we happened to be with the only 2 left in the place.
After we left Joe’s we caught a different cab (per the rules), and the driver’s name is Charlie. He took us up to the Sabeto Hot Springs, where we had a mud bath! The mud is smeared all over the skin and then we let it dry in the sun. It makes your skin soft and tight. Then you get into the “mud pool” and wash off. This is followed by a dip in the warm pool, and then a dip in the cooler one. It is incredibly relaxing!
While we were there we also had a traditional Fijian Bobo (massage) with coconut oil. The traditional massage focuses on pressure points and is very delightful. We definitely want to have another in the future!
To end the day, we arrived at Vuna Point Marina to watch the sunset and have a drink. The Fijian sunset is breathtaking! The colors are vibrant over the crystal water and expands in delicate ripples. Mom had a Mint Julep and I tried a beer, the Fijian Gold. I really liked the Fijian Gold. What an awesome first day it has been!!
We have more pictures at https://www.facebook.com/mysavvyvacation?fref=ts