Wednesday, February 13, 2008
We just spent a very short eight days in Savusavu, Fiji. Because we were not here very long we have only a handful of photos that you can view on our photo website.
Even though we were here a very short time we absolutely fell in love with the Fijians! In fact I think they are our new favorite nationality. As you walk down the street they would yell "Bula! Bula! Bula!" which is hello. They wave at you so much that you kind of feel like a movie star. They're so friendly and want to say hi that they tuck their giant machete under their armpit as they wave hello to you! The only downside to Fiji (and I hate to say this) is that 40% of the population consists of Indians (from India). A few hundred years ago when the English ruled the islands (I swear the English must have ruled the whole world at some point or another) they wanted the local Fijians to work the sugar cane fields. When the Fijians refused because they were happy fishing and working their own farms, the English decided to bring in the Indians to work the cane fields. They never left. I say that they're a downer for Fiji because they are just not very nice. You smile and say hello and they give you this blank stare in return.
The Fijians are a little quirky though. While at a local bar a gentlemen came around to see if we wanted to enter a raffle that was to help support the local youth group. One drawing was to win $200. The other raffle was to win a chicken. Hmmm.... let me think about this.... which drawing do I want to enter? Do I want to win $200 or a chicken??? Kind of bizarre. We also noticed several of the men are just a little to in touch with their feminine side. We noticed this right away upon arrival at the airport. As one of "these guys" is explaining to us where to catch a shuttle to our hotel, he is slowly massaging Troy's shoulder and fluttering his eyes at him.
Of course coming to Fiji we wanted to do some diving. It didn't turn out quite the way we expected but that is ok since we basically have had a lifetime of diving experiences this past year. We met a fellow diver several months ago that said to come to the island of Vanua Levu because there was a fantastic marine park. That sounded like a great endorsement so away we went. Upon arrival we found there were not many dive shops to choose from and since it was low season no one was going to the marine park which was about a 2 hour boat ride away. So we were disappointed about this but oh well. Then after one of our dives, everyone is on the boat taking off wet suits and Troy's expensive dive computer accidentally got knocked out of his hand and into the water it went. He jumped in right away but since he didn't have his mask or fins on there was no way he could catch it in time. So that sucked big time! We thought we were drifting in a current over 700' of water so we decided it was long gone. That evening we tried to soak our sorrows away in a few beers but it didn't help much. The next day the same boat guide asked if we wanted to look for it. He said when it went overboard we had just come off the mooring and we were still over 175' of water and he had a very good idea of where it might be. So we said we would go look. Back to the dive site we went and four minutes into the dive the guide found the computer in 165' of water on a very small lip of the reef before it plummeted to the extreme depths!!!!!!!!!! Talk about happiness!!
There wasn't a whole lot to do in Savusavu so we rented a little Rav4 one day to explore the island and find some deserted beaches. This didn't go so well either. The roads were horrible! There is only one paved road on the island and is only about 50 miles long. After that it is just shit, shit and more shit mixed with mud. Not to mention dodging goats and cows on the side of the road as we slip and slide everywhere. Our goal was to get all the way around the island but we gave up once we realized the roads were getting worse not better. Funny thing, when we got back to the paved road we remembered that the SUV had 4 wheel drive! Whoops. But that probably wouldn't have helped too much since the tires were bald - at least that is Troy's story. We did manage to pick up a few hitch hikers to pay back the hitch hiking god since we have hitched a few rides through out our travels. At one point on our road journey we came across an area of road that stretched for 100 yards that had been washed out by recent rains. We were amazed at the amount of road construction machinery that was fixing the problem.....two guys, a shovel and a wheel barrel. As Troy says "Those guys have a job for life!"
Fiji is also known for their Kava which is a drink made from the Kava root which is part of the pepper leaf family. We had heard about it so of course we had to give it a try. Kava is such a huge part of the Fijians social life that as you walk down the street you can witness groups of neighbors sitting on the front lawn drinking it. The Fijians drink so much of it that when it is made it is mixed in a bowl large enough to do a load of laundry in. At this point everyone sits around this large tub while small bowls of Kava is passed around. Anyone can buy the powder in the store and mix it up yourself but the more fun way is to drink it with the locals at a Kava ceremony. Our last night in Fiji found us joining such a ceremony at our hotel. There is not much to the ceremony. Water is poured in a big wooden bowl then the powder is wrapped up in a cloth to soak in the water. When the Kava is ready the Kava Master says some mumbo-jumbo in Fijian then we are ready to drink. A series of claps happen before and after the drinking, bula is shouted a few times then the mouth numbness sets in along with the perma-grin. It was all very entertaining. Especially when "Chief Troy" didn't clap at the appropriate time and had to drink extra servings. There were also two young Japanese girls drinking with us who really didn't know much about Fiji's history. When the Kava Master, Taiku, told them that his ancestors used to be cannibals, the expression on the girls faces was absolutely priceless. They thought he was joking but were horrified to learn he was not. By the way, Kava does not taste good. Probably why it is served in a plastic tub is because it looks and tastes like dirty dish water. There are definitely worse things we have tried but this one is right up there.
After Vanuatu we will come back to Fiji for three more days before we head back to the US because our year trip will have come to an end. How sad is that?