Hey everybody! Sorry it has been a few days since my last post...I am alive and well and the last few days have been adventurous to say the least!
So Tuesday, Barrett (the dude from SC) and I met 3 travelers from the UK on their gap year (year off between college and university often used to travel the world...I wish the States had an equivalent!). We hit it off immediately, trading stories and recommendations on where to go (they had just come from Aus and NZ and were on their way to the States). We all went into town where I got to learn more abou the people of Fiji.
Fiji is comprised of around 50% native Fijian islanders, who have a pretty interesting canibal history!!! The other 50% is of Indian descent and were brought over by the British as cheap labor, aka slaves. The Indian Fijians now own about 99% of the local business while the natives live in the small villages and either work for Indians in the towns or farm the land. Unfortunately, most Fijians are extremely poor...living on only a few Fijian dollars a day (1 US dollar = 1.9 or so Fiji dollars). The really disgusting part is that the places that make the most money, the resorts, hotels, hostels, and travel companies are almost exclusively owned by Europeans and Americans. So Europeans and Americans are using the beauty and peacefulness of the Fiji Islands to draw other Americans and Europeans for travel and the Fijians see very very little of the money spent...that made me angry and guilty at being one of the many wealthy travelers. I feel such a lack for money at home...but after seeing what it is like here...I feel quite guilty for ever thinking such a thing.
Anyway...so Tuesday night we (3 Brits: Andy, Olivia, and James, as well as Barrett and myself) all got to take part in a local Fiji custom: a Kava ceremony. Kava is a root that is ground up and mixed with water to make a drink. Kava has a natural depressant in it that gives a feeling of numbness to the mouth (like novicane) and slows the body down. After learning about "Fiji time", how time slows down in Fiji, it makes perfect sense that the drink is so popular here. The ceremony is conducted by a group of native musicians who belt out a ton of songs on guitars and eukalalis with kava drinking inbetween songs. It was a great night spent with the Kavaholics, the bands name, which really added to the feeling of being in Fiji.
The next day, Wednesday, we all decided to make the quest to Natadola Beach, which is reputed as the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world. We caught local busses into town and then to the southern town of Sigatoka. We got a hotel room in Sigatoka and caught another bus on to the junction for Natadola. The only way to get to the beach is to be let off at the junction and catch a cab down the dirt road to get to it. After seeing it, I have no idea of what place can be more beautiful in order to achieve 1st place. The water was brilliant shades of bright turquoise and royal blue. There was a bright lagoon with a boat to cross at the mouth when the tide was in . The tide was out so we just crossed through the shallow water to a rocky outcropping on th e other side. We set up here and enjoyed the beautiful blue water and bright sun. We had to get back across while we could when the tide started coming in fear of getting our cameras soaked.
We then swam some more in the lagoon which was really quite deep. The only bad thing about the beach is that they are in the process of putting up a 5 star resort. The resort is owned by, of course, a group of Europeans. That also pissed me off. Anyway, it was an amazing day, and I will highly recommend the beach to anyone that gets to visit Fiji...resort or not.
We worked our way back to town, where we got a case of the local brew, Fiji Bitter, and grabbed some curry for dinner. I must say the Fiji Bitter beer is really good. I was pleasantly surprised. So the 5 of us shared more stories and aquired knowledge as well as some of the funny quirks about our respective homelands long into the night before passing out from a long day in the sun and a few good beers.
The following day, we ventured out nearer to Sigatoka town to the sand dunes. These dunes are huge. The Sigatoka Sand Dunes are also the only place on the main island of Viti Levu where there is a shore break, perfect for surfing. The beach there is wild and undeveloped...thank goodness but for how long I wonder? I rented a board from a native at a village on the dirt road out to the beach. The surf was choppy and the current was eerily strong. I got up on a few of the breakers off shore, but the current proved too strong for me to get out to where they were breaking regularly. Either way I had fun. There was a small resort there called Club Masa. By resort, I dont mean hotel, I mean paradise. It was a small group of huts inhabited by some interesting travelers and local surfing enthusiasts. The huts were surrounded by tall shady palms and grassy lands. There were a few horses and the dunes to make an amazing backdrop. It was definately the type of place where I could lose mysleft for a few weeks, or months, forgetting the outside world and giving in to pure and simple Fiji time. It was definately a surfer's (or just free spirited person's) paradise.
So that is that...I parted with the Brits in Sigatoka on Thursday. They had much more time here and were going to start hopping to the smaller islands. We lost Barrett at Club Masa. He was obviously drawn in by the peaceful chillness of the place. I truly wonder how long he will linger there.
I have pictures galore, and I am looking forward to getting to an internet cafe in Auckland to post them. I promise, they are amazing and coming soon. I hope all is well with everyone back there and you are enjoying these brief snipits! I will post more either tomorrow or the next day from New Zealand!! Til then!