It has been several days since we were in Fiji and we have been so busy that there has been very little time left over to blog! We left off in Fiji after the first day there, and the second day was just as lovely!
We began by catching the yellow bus to the Kula Wildlife Park near Sigatoka, about 45 minutes away from Nadi. We found that cabs are incredibly expensive when you move around as much as we are and the bus is only one dollar in town! An interesting thing about the bus- sometimes they have a bell that is accessible by a string that you pull to get the attention of the driver that you want to stop; however, many of them have no such luxury and the way they get around that particular predicament is to tap on the glass with their dollar coin to let the driver know that they want to stop.
Unlike many of the western countries, Fiji buses will stop anywhere for anyone; Fijians are very much on island time and one person’s time belongs not to him alone, but to everyone. They are a very generous people both with their things and their time, and the sense of community is very present and strong.
We switched from a bus to a “vittibus” (minibus) and arrived at our destination in no time. The eco park is wonderful! We were able to hold snakes and lizards, walk the trails, and buy our Fijian collectable (a scavenge is collecting something at each country). Our collectable is a cannibal fork. That is right, a cannibal fork. We mentioned last post that the natives used to be cannibals a couple hundred years ago. These were the forks that the food handlers used to bring human flesh to the mouths of their priests and chiefs; we are now the proud owners of one!
Our next stop was at Sigatoka Market; this is an incredible place that every person who goes to Fiji needs to experience. They have everything there! Sigatoka valley is known as “The Salad Bowl” because they grow all of the produce for the whole island, resorts and all. When you see produce sold in Nadi or anywhere else, it all came from Sigatoka Valley. They have everything there- breadfruit, vudi (plantain), Jamun (similar to a cherry, not in season at the moment), even the little tiny Bongo Chilis that we are now so fond of! It was amazing!
From there we completed several scavenges; for the sake of time I will not go into detail, but we priced some pearls at a store (Black pearls: $199 and up, Gold pearls: $795 and up, Chocolate pearls: $1295 and up), and found our item in a grocery that we cannot find at home (a Hanuman Poojan Samagri Set, google it).
A highlight of our day was a horseback ride through the sand dunes, which completed 3 scavenges in one, which were take a horse ride, walk the sand dunes, and sit on a 4 legged beastie (the last is an ongoing challenge through each country). While we waited for the horses to be readied we sat in the house of the owner and chatted with his lovely wife and saw 2 of his beautiful children- a 5 year old boy and a 16 month old little girl. They are so sweet and delightful! The boy did not speak English, as they do not learn it until they start 1st grade.
About their language: They speak Fijian and there are 37 dialects, so they can communicate across but dialect to dialect conversations lead to half way communication. They also generally learn at least a little Hindi as there is a large percentage of Indians in Fiji, and as stated above they learn English in primary school. English is a very important skill set for them because of the tourism industry; tourism generates more revenue than any other industry, followed by the sugar cane fields. They also make a lot of gold (9, 14 and 18 carat) in the north.
The horse ride was phenominal! We really loved the crystal clear water! I had the laziest horse known to man on the way out to the dunes, but he suddenly found some energy when we turned around to go home! The guy who dragged my horse along talked about how in Fiji it is very doable to live for periods of time with no job as there is an abundance of fishing around. They spearfish and find it great fun but also useful, and we actually saw a man going out to commence with his little 5 pronged spear! My guide echoed the thoughts of our Kava friends that although there are more foreigners coming into the country the culture will be preserved because they strongly cling to tradition.
Moms horse leader, Ratuva, is the owner of the horses. He used to play Rugby professionally and lived in New Zealand for 16 years, where he met his sweet Fijian wife, who had moved there with her family from an out island for her parents’ work. He now teaches rugby as well as the horse business. These are very industrious people.
After that delightful venture we caught a cab back to Nadi (the driver, Khan, was headed that way and took us for free. He gave us a very wonderful history lesson) and went to the temple there.
The temple is stunning with incredible detail and vibrant paint inside and out. We heard them pray in the singsong way as they lit candles in each shrine in the temple and saw families praying with the priests. They are very devout.
Our evening proved interesting as well! We went to Curry House to eat food on a stick (another scavenge) and ended up being interviewed by a reporter of the Fiji Sun! I read the Sun the next morning over breakfast and found that Hillary Clinton is indeed officially running for president. There is nothing like finding out national news internationally.
Day 3 was only a morning before our meetup and announcement of the next destination. We finished up a few scavenges, namely mailing a postcard and walking through a market. At our meetup we learned of our next destination. That destination is…. well, we will wait until the next blog to tell you 😉
Stay tuned, friends!