So here we are at the Intercontinental Resort at Natadola beach on Viti Levu Island, in Fiji. We have come over from our resort, the Yatule Resort & Spa, that is just next door, to see the entertainment. Our group settles in with a few drinks while waiting for things to start, and as the sun starts to dip in the sky, the entertainment begins.
- The group sings and dances to the beat of their drums, and they are very good. As the night wore on, the group involved some of the children of tourist’s gathered around and let them play with the drums.
- For the finale a warrior with a torch arrived to light the fires signifying the end of the nights entertainment.
- We had photos taken with the group and then headed back to our resort for dinner.
- It was getting late and dinner took quite a while to be served, but it is well worth the wait. I had chicken chow mein with rice and it was delicious. It appeared that all the other meals were equally as delicious as attested to by the sounds of enjoyment around the table.
- I recommend the battered fish with chips and coleslaw, the chicken chow mein with rice, a heavenly lemon chicken dish and well to be honest everything was so tasty. It was hard to choose what to have at each meal.
- Ayla had organised a hens night for Lucia, so we left the men to their own devices and headed off to Ayla’s Bure. Well we started the night off in Dee’s room, but we were a bit noisy and she had neighbours, so we moved.
- Ayla had put together drinks, snacks and games and we all had a great time.
- Next morning I set out to have an early morning swim in the ocean, however, I met the girls coming back from the beach and they said that the sea was full of debris and it was really cold.
- So I decided to go to breakfast instead. (Never one to turn down a good feed). There’s a buffet of cereals, toast, fruit and yoghurt, and you can also have a hot breakfast as well. I had a cheese and onion omelette with sausages and hash brown on most mornings. I can’t stress enough how delicious the meals are. Everything is beautifully prepared and so fresh. The bananas, oranges and papaya are just heavenly. I have almost forgotten what truly fresh fruit actually taste like. The fruit we get back home is usually picked before it’s ripe. Then it is kept in cool storage, so it loses it’s flavour by the time gets to the shops.
As the morning wore on it was still overcast and cool so I decided not to go swimming, choosing instead to do some work on writing up some notes on my trip. I know that if I don’t do it while I am at the resort, I won’t get it done for ages once I get home.
- Later in the day Varinia, Shaun and I decided to take a walk to the local village. We stopped off on the way to check out the Intercontinental. Although the weather is overcast it is still very warm. So we picked up some ice cream and fruju’s. These are a frozen fruit ice confection that I remember from my childhood. As a child, I was very fond of pineapple fruju’s, and the one I have tastes every bit as good as I remember.
- On the way we were approached by the usual group wanting us to have massages and horseback rides. But we politely decline and continue walking. At the end of the resort is a fence and at this point Shaun decided to set off and do some exploring on his own, while we two girls continued on.
- After going through the fence, we followed some old train tracks that were once used to transport sugar cane but have since fallen into disuse. Always practical, we discussed how great it would be if the tracks could be resurrected and have small trains running between resorts as a tourist attraction.
- As we strolled on discussing all manner of things, we heard a rustling noise up ahead. Of course, imaginations ran riot as to what it could be. We rounded the corner and came across a local man, holding a large, very sharp machete. He is wearing in a t-shirt with a kangaroo and a humorous Aussie saying on it so we stopped to chat.
- Being curious we asked him what he was doing. He explained that he was cutting branches from the bush, that would be soaked for two weeks in the sea, after which the outer bark would be stripped away leaving the white inner bark exposed. This inner bark is stripped and woven to make skirts that are used for ceremonial purposes. The cultural group that we had seen the night before, were all dressed in these ceremonial skirts.
- He continued to tell us that his wife makes and sells handcrafts at a market at the intercontinental.
We went on to explain that we were looking for the younger members of our group and he tells us that, they had indeed passed by not too long ago. So we thanked him for his time and continued on along the tracks, leaving him to him to his task.
- I stop to take a photo of an old water tank that is well rusted and fallen into disuse, but makes for an interesting subject.
- Just after the water tank is a bridge that looks a bit dodgy, with planks that have been laid, somewhat haphazardly down the centre between the old tracks, and we carefully pick our way across. Some of the planks moved randomly when I stepped on them, which was a tad disconcerting.
- Even Ayla found the prospect of crossing the bridge a bit daunting.
- Just past the bridge we came across a group of five local men cutting mangroves, so once again we stopped to enquire what they are doing. You will see by now that my daughter and I are curious people and like to learn about local customs. My daughter especially is at one with nature. She has a insatiable thirst for knowledge about how local people interact with their surroundings. She is particularly interested in how they use the resources they have at hand, while living harmoniously with their environment. She was upset about the amount of plastic that washed up daily on the beach, along with the broken glass we also found.
- The men told us that they strip the bark from the mangroves and will use it to make a small Bure they are building. We watched them for short time as they expertly cut the branches and strip the bark. We thanked them for sharing their time and knowledge with us, and continued on to the village, which was not too far away now.
- As often happens we have done our own thing in coming, and it turned out we should have gotten a guide from the resort to accompany us. Oh well. We were talking to a young boy when another local man arrived and asks what we want, we explained that we are looking for the rest of our party and he says he will take us through the village to look for them. I asked him if there were any handcrafts for sale in the village, and that got his attention. He took us to a house and told the lady who lives there that we wanted to look at the handcrafted items. They then took us to the community centre where there were a number of mats, each with a variety of bracelets, necklaces and shells laid out on them.
- We each selected a necklace, mine is in the shape of the fishing hook that is representative of Maui, the god who fished NZ from the bottom of the ocean, a story we were taught in school, many years ago. Varinia chose the Moana symbol which is so popular after the movie.
- After we made our purchases, the man says, “ Ok, you go now”. We explained that we had yet to find the kids. So he strode off towards the far end of the village, with us in tow, and there they were with their guide, Moses. After introductions were made, our guide left and Moses took us back into the village where he showed us the chiefs hut and chatted about the daily life of the villagers.
- It was a very interesting excursion and Moses was most informative. Once we arrived back at the train tracks Moses departed and we headed back to our resort.
- The afternoon had become quite hot, so we hit the bar pool again. The water was refreshing and cool after our long walk, and we ordered some Mai Tais to sip and enjoy while relaxing.
Local Fijian Medicine
In the reception area there is a blackboard, and each day there are list of activities written on the board, of things that you can do at the resort. There was a class to learn some Fijian, which we unfortunately missed, but there was a talk on local medicine. and a few of us decided to go that.
Instead of just showing us pictures of the local Fijian herbs our guide, Tonga, took us for a walk away from the resort so that he could show us the plants. The coconut or golden tree is one of the most versatile trees in the islands. Every bit of the tree can be used. If you are ever washed up on an island, hope that it is one with plenty of coconut trees. You can drink the coconut water, eat the coconut meat, use the shell to gather rain water and as a drinking vessel. The fronds can be plaited to make a shelter and you can use every part of the tree and the roots.
We are shown plants that are used to heal broken bones and also to bring out bruises and heal cuts and scrapes. Another plant is boiled and given to new mothers whose babies cry all the time because they aren’t getting enough nourishment from the mothers milk. Drinking the juice made from this plant solves that problem. He also tells us that they have a plant that they use to treat cancer.
The nearest doctor is 30 mins away and often they need to treat illnesses and injuries in the village as soon as possible. And for those times when ‘modern’ treatment hasn’t worked, they often find that the local medicine works. It was a really interesting walk and talk and I’m glad I did this rather than go to the caves with the kids. I was so bone weary as this trip had been full on and there was still more to come.
I got back to my Bure and found that had I misplaced my iPad. I was frantic to find it. I turned the room upside down and went to reception to see if I had left it somewhere and it had been handed in. But no, it hadn’t. Ohmigod what was I going to do, all my photos and my journal notes are on my iPad apart from everything else. I couldn’t get to sleep and keep going through the same search process. Finally I fell into a restless sleep and I was awake again at 4 am. I stopped off on the way to breakfast to enquire again if it had turned up.
Finally, I asked Demelza to come and have a look, although I have searched the room, I felt she may see something I don’t. Then I opened the safe yet again and stepped back to let her see in, and this gave me a different perspective, there is the iPad wedged right against the back wall of the safe. I prised it out and I’m so relieved I gave her a big hug and thanked her. She protests she didn’t do anything, but she did, I would never have stood back where I could get to see the very back of the safe. I was so relieved and let the staff know I have found it.
Apart from that little hiccup, this is the life, eat, sleep and play. Tomorrow is the Wedding day.