On return from my epic adventures – Fiji Overview
BULA! It’s been a long time between entries! No i wasn’t abducted by aliens or raptured, I was away on holiday in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the islands of Fiji, taking some time off from my usual routine to relax and take in the scenery of that beautiful nation, its people and its culture. I have been keeping a travel diary while away, so the next few blog entries will be about my experiences on Fiji rather than the usual diatribes about religion, culture and politics. It was an eye-opening experience on many levels, so I hope you find these blogs as interesting as I did when experiencing them firsthand, and maybe I can send you a little slice of the tropics to get you through your day.
That was the view from my hut or “bure” (pron: “mbure” with a very soft “m” sound) which we awoke to on the island resort at Yaqeta (pron: “Yangeta”) in the north western islands of Fiji in the Yasawa Island Group. Every day held a new experience for us, and the resort we stayed at for our second half of the holiday had something new for us to experience every day.
Fiji is a place with a very rich cultural heritage, from their historical cannibal past to the tourist mecca it has become today. The people are genuinely some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and not just because they depend on tourists to keep their economy afloat, but because it is in their culture to greet new people and make them welcome. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a hearty “BULA!” (pron: “mbulah” with again with a soft “m” sound), a wave and a smile from the locals, whether they be resort workers or just people on the street. With a firm handshake and a large grin, people on Fiji will look after you, whatever your needs might be. The people are gorgeous, and the children are completely delightful to be around.
Fiji is a very religious culture, with the native Fijians mostly practicing Christianity on one flavour or another, while the Indeo-Fijians (the descendants immigrants from Indian in the 18th century) are mostly Hindu with some Muslims thrown in there too. Underpinning this is a strong link to cultural roots of the island, and the introduced religions seem to meld with the traditional rites and rituals from their heritage. It would not be unknown for a Fijian to go to church on a Sunday morning and then spend the evening at a traditional “kava ceremony”. (Kava is a mild narcotic drug made from the roots of the kava plant, and the ceremony varies from very strict ritual, with the inclusion of prayer, to a very laid-back affair with guitar-playing and singing.)
Their daily activities seem to be punctuated with music, especially for the tourist, but also at schools and churches, and to pass the time. The guitar and ukulele playing always seems a little out of key, and not all of the singers had a good voice, but in concert with each other, the sound is amazing, the melding of voices being a music representation of the stunning place that is Fiji. I was lucky enough to record some music from the resort we stayed at, from the local children’s choir, from the school and from the church, and will post more on that later.
It’s a place of continuously warm weather, humid for the most part, rainy during the monsoon season (November through February), tropical fruits and flowers, and thick jungles. The tropical coral reefs hold such a plethora of colours and diversity, enough to be overwhelming.
I have so many stories to tell you all, but these will have to be distilled from my memories and notes, and the thousands of photographs need to be collated. In any case, while I would love to still be in a place where I don’t need to wear shoes, I’m glad to be back so I can relay my stories to you all.