Today was an amazing day with an early start. Koro, our tour bus driver picked us up at 8am. We were the only ones on the bus for about half an hour, so we got chatting. He has twin daughters who are bright – one wanting to be a doctor, the other a civil engineer and they are in Form 5 (Year 11). He desperately wants to get them to Australia to get into a good university, but recently they had their Visas denied, even though he had family over there to sponsor their stay. He lost FJ$1500 in Visa application fees, and when you work for FJ$1.90 an hour, it’s a heartache that has no justice. So he keeps going, telling his girls that he will do what he needs to do for them, and the concentrate on what they need to do for them.
We then picked up our tour guide ‘Jonah’ a Tonga origin gay tour operator who was a wealth of knowledge about the types of plants in the Villages, the famous Fijians and their Villages, some of the language, history about Fijians and a little scare tactics including the fact that Fiji used to be called the Cannibal Islands for their cannibalism and that there are ‘vegetarian’ pirañas in the water. Made my boys question a couple of things!
We picked up some our tourists from Australia from the Navati Resort and the Warwick Resort & Spa (where we stayed last time) before we drove another hour and a half to a Fijian home where they served us morning tea of Fijian pancakes and a lemon cumquat drink. We then set off to the river – the river that Anaconda the movie was set.
We were on an un-named long boat, where the other half of our party were on a long boat called the ‘Okay,’ so we thought we must have been on the ‘Not So Okay’ until the ‘Okay’ had some engine troubles and then we were the ‘Better than Okay!’ We cruised for about forty-five minutes up the river till we found what looked like a golf-course for cows and then the Village we were visiting.
The Village we visited was called ‘Nakavu Village’ and they greeted us with the most amazing hospitality. First was their welcome song then their Kava ceremony, where we drank the powdered water of the kava root that gives a relaxed numbness to the tongue and body, similar to alcohol, but non-alcoholic. The boys had a go at drinking some!
Then they sang some traditional songs before we went out to the Village to see how they lived. Which is heartbreaking in one way, but they are so happy, so who are we to judge.
We then went to visit the school, were there are 8 teachers from Grade One to Grade 8 which is considered primary school, and even though they are in basic conditions, they were a joy to be around. This was the Grade 3/4 composite with Nick.
They even had a Pre-school class room for 3-5 year olds, but we visited at the time when they were at lunch. So off to lunch we went, and had a traditional Fijian feast of chicken curry, tapioca, taro with spinach, tuna sandwiches and some fresh fruit and vegetables, all supplied by their Village or Villagers.
After lunch, the Villagers did a traditional dance for us, while their counterparts sang and played their instruments.
Before they asked us all to dance a few songs including a Fijian style conga line.
Before we left, some of the children came out to greet us – so cute!
We bought some souvenirs and walked through the other part of the Village seeing their church and homes.
We then returned to our long boat and cruised on up the river through the rapids to a bamboo raft that took us to our waterfall.
Paul, our Villager (the one in the grass skirt) took us to the waterfall and gave us a ‘hand-guided’ tour, that was a little too friendly, if You know what I mean. But in some ways it was appreciated. His English was hard to understand, but we understood the important stuff (he was single, he worked 3 days a week in ‘tourism’ and that he was from the Village).
But the waterfall was amazing. We could jump from under the waterfall into the water, the water was so clean so fresh so beautiful, and we stayed there for about half an hour climbing over the rocks and feeling the pelting water on our backs.
Our long boat cruise took about an hour from the waterfall, then afternoon tea at the house of lemon tea and Fijian donuts (Nick ended up eating 17 of them!), then a 2.5 hour drive back to our resort. An amazing day all round… looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure!