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I arrived in Fiji in August 2004 for a stay of 4 days. I landed at the international airport of Nadi on the main Island of Viti Levu. Almost immediately, I noticed that the locals were extremely friendly and helpful. One example of this when I was carrying a bike in a large box and an airport employee walked in front of me to make sure that people were moving out of my way.
When I arrived It was late and difficult to find transport for the 2 hours ride to the Beachouse. I paid $35.00 Fijian dollars an obviously inflated price 2 or 3 times the normal fare. Even though it was expensive, it was a better option than looking for a hotel late in the evening in an unknown city.
I arrived at the resort around 10:30. Everybody was eating and drinking cheerfully in the cafe; life in this backpacker resort definitely revolves around the cafe. I did not have a reservation but there were a few rooms available for about 25 Fijian dollars ($20.00 Canadian). After walking through the dark campground, I found my colorful cabin among the beautiful tropical palm trees.
My first day there I woke up to face a beautiful sunny day. I was surprised to see some of the native Fijians calling me already by my first name. Most of the resort is staffed by Fijians who were extremely nice and polite.
There were also other interesting people from all over the world one of them was an older Australian gentleman 50 or so, if I remember correctly his name was Bob. He was addicted to surfing and I enjoyed watching him taking some waves right in front of the resort. He was the life of the resort he liked to talk to anybody as if they were friends. It was great to meet somebody who will talk to you. Some had come with friends but a few of us were alone.
I took advantage of a beautiful day to go snorkeling. For a few dollars, I was allowed to keep the snorkeling set all day. I enjoyed swimming in the warm waters and looking at beautiful tropical fish and purple starfish common amongst the live corral. Sadly many of the corrals close to the resort were permanently damaged for various reasons but if you walked a reasonable distance from the shore you could tell that they were in much better conditions.
Nightlife at the Beachouse was picking up steam as people from all over the world were converging at the cafe. In a small hut you could also hear locals playing the guitar and passing a local bitter drink called Kava. After you take a few glasses, It is suppose to relax you but I had enough after the first drink. Also, the smell of marijuana was competing with the smells of the tropical flowers. In some ways, I felt I was back in hippy times.
The next day, I was in the mood for real Fijian delicacies. Sadly a lot of the food at the resort is westernized. I decided to go for a walk on the narrow road to find a village. I passed a huge resort called the Warwick and I kept going. By the road, I saw a little stand where the vendors were barbecuing lamb and serving it with a local root. I had two plates. It was delicious and it only cost me four Fijian dollars. I was really satisfied.
Later on, I tried my luck at line fishing. I had brought my own fishing rod from Canada. I went to fish around the corrals when the tide was retrieving away. I had a lot of bites but the squid I used for bait was always gone gone. The next day, I decided to put smaller hooks on to try to catch the smaller fish and it worked .I also used marlin given to me by the cook at the cafe. On my first throw, I caught a red snapper and later I had a couple more fish. The Fijians seemed surprised at my success and they started to fight to get the fruits of my labor.
The next day, I was at the cafe beside the board that described all the activities offered at the resort (scuba diving, deep sea fishing, surfing, jewelry and crafts making) and a group was getting ready to do a jungle hike. The sky was grey and I felt this was not a good day to lay down on the beach, I decided that there was nothing better to do so I decided to go for the hike.
The guide was also the owner of the land where the trail was located. The climax of the trip was the view of the falls. On our way the guide, a nice Fijian man that liked to call me the “Canadian”, would tell us all kinds of stories. He told us how every man in Fiji has a stick at home to remind their wives who is the “boss”. He would also describe us all the edible plants along the way or answer any questions that came to our minds.
We finally arrived at the foot of the falls and we changed into or swimsuits. We jumped into the highly refreshing pond. After a while we started to climb the slippery falls. Some people choose to use the safe route to the top by avoiding the falls and by going around it. The German girl in front of me started to have difficulties. With her permission, and with the guide's encouragement, I pushed her “derriere”. If she had fallen on top of me we would have fallen on the rocks and on the deep pond. I also helped the guy above me. I felt proud that the oldest guy of the group was able to make it unassisted. This was truly a memorable experience. One of those places that makes you wish that you were there. It was the best seven dollars spent on my trip.
Back at the village, I was able to buy some papayas, six for two dollars. They were really sweet.
Sunday, I went to church. It felt weird, the pastors and most of the church were Koreans but the service was in English with a Korean accent. They were great people.
During the afternoon, I was ready to say au revoir to this beautiful island and its charming people. A lot of the staff came to say goodbye to us. I was wondering when I would be back.
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