It is always worth taking a bit of a walk off the beaten track if you are staying in Fiji. To me, it seems that there is the Fiji that many Fijians think that travellers want to see, and the other Fiji, which is intensely interesting but not normally on display. When staying in Savusavu, you can take a walk out of town towards the Daku resort along the waterfront. It is really beautiful, with a community of people living right across from the ocean. Many of the community are Indo-Fijian (Fiji’s population of approximately 900,000 is almost half Indo-Fijian).
From taking a bit of a stroll, you can learn so many things about how people really live. The water flowing from the pipe will be waste water from the kitchen or bathroom, which flows down a corrugated iron drain, into the gutter, and to the sea. The family keeps chickens, as most Indian semi-rural or rural families do, as it is a custom that when family arrives, you should feed them only the best, so a fresh bird is needed for lunch or dinner. I love sarees, and the women always look so beautiful. When you go to a wedding or function, you would think that all the ladies and girls lived in palaces by the way they sparkle! However, many of them live in very simple homes, and live very physical lives. Perhaps the constant excercise also helps them look great in a saree (or sari)!
Not many people ride bikes in Fiji – the road conditions are just too tough. Koronivia Road, a long road that goes from Kings Road Junction to Lokia Landing, is a gravel road with only two states of being – dust or mud – corresponding directly to rain or no rain. This photo was taken while walking home one day in “peak hour”. Peak hour means normally that you can see more than one vehicle.
Turns out we don’t have the only free range pigs in Fiji! Recently we visited friends who live right on the beach near Rakiraki. Momo (uncle) feeds the pigs out of coconut shell bowls. They wander around, walk on the beach, and when they want milk, scamper in through a little hole in the pig pen to mum.
I love this photo of my friend Kim, who visited from Canada, taken at Naumoidmada Beach, near Rakiraki, Fiji. I love it for two reasons:
Firstly, because she really looks beautiful with her skirt swaying in the afternoon breeze.
Secondly, because it looks like an add for Fiji, as if she is in a resort village, with luxury lurking just behind the scenes, or just out of shot.
In reality, we were visiting my friends who run a little village bakery on the beach, far far away from any tourist amenity. They have dogs, and piglets that think they are dogs, and go walking on the beach with you, and eating their food out of coconut shells with the dogs. Just out of shot on the right of Kim is the pig pen. Behind, you see the village kids taking their afternoon raucous swim. We ate a home cooked meal with Momo (our friends’ uncle who received us traditionally and welcomed Kim and Ari to the village with a kava ceremony at which my husband was the traditional spokesperson or mata ni vanua) – fish cooked in fresh coconut juice (lolo), fresh squeezed lime and fresh chili on the side, cassava and greens. It was the perfect meal and the perfect day.
One of the many “Flying Princes” based in Rakiraki Town
So many bus companies in Fiji, all with great names, and old fashioned retro painted bodies. Open air buses are a favourite of mine, and this is my favourite named bus company in Fiji – The Flying Prince – which runs the service around Rakiraki Town. These photos were taken on one of the most scenic and also one of my favourite drives in Fiji – the road between Rakiraki Town and Naumoimada beach – one of the only white sand beaches between Suva and Lautoka. If you ever get the chance, take a bus ride from Suva to Rakiraki to Ba to Lautoka to Nadi. It costs about $20 all the way. The local Flying Prince from Rakiraki to Naumoimada Beach is $1.80. You can get the Sunbeam, Intercities or
Between Rakiraki and Naumoimada
Vatakoula Express from Suva or Nausori to Rakiraki and then change if you want, or take a few local bus trips around Rakiraki. If you are not sure, the big buses are called “the bus” and they are often express, but the local buses are called “the stopping bus” which means that it will stop anywhere at all along the route to pick up and drop off. This is the most fun way to go as the village kids get off and on on their way home from school. Once I saw an old man walking a bicycle by the side of the road. Tied to the bike was a rope, which led a massive cow who walked behind. I was too slow for the photo, as that time I was on “the bus” not “the stopping bus”!
Between Tavua and Rakiraki
In my opinion, the bus ride from Nausori Town (which is actually where Suva airport is) and Rakiraki which takes about 3 hours is the nicest scenery by far on the main island of VitiLevu. When you get to Rakiraki, the Tanoa Rakiraki is a quaint old hotel with every modern convenience and a nice place to stay. I love it there, the owners make you feel at home, and it has a pool that you can cool off in, lawn bowls, and tennis.
Palm Sunday is “children’s day” at many churches in Fiji. The kids do everything for the service including the sermon, and recite bible verses. After the service, there is relief and euphoria, looking forward to playing together crazyily, and a big feast at which they are the guests of honour. Church is like many words when you come to Fiji – it actually means something completely different from what we would normally understand from that word. In this case, it is held in a corrugated iron shed. My son, far right, spoke his first Fijian language bible verse at that service.
I met some people at Leleuvia Island, an extended family of Americans who had come to remember their mother, who had brought up the family many years ago in Suva. At the end of a long, hot afternoon, I asked Max, the cutest little 8 year old, what he had been doing.
He replied that he had just been playing in the sand.
What else? – said I.
Oh, nothing, just playing in the sand with Sophie (his cousin).
Uh-huh, all day.
That night, after dinner, I went to look at the water, and noticed hundreds and hundreds of sandcastles all over the beach, and in the coconut trees. This photo is what was left after high tide the next day, a couple of hours after the family had left the island by boat to start their journey home. A memory of Max and Sophie.
Sandcastles left over from the day before, Leleuvia, Fiji