...and a souvenir from Raro!
10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
Bula from Fiji!
I got here last night after a strange flight that left Rarotonga at 6pm Friday night and got into Fiji at 8pm Saturday night. I will never get that day back! Fiji is the first place in the world to greet every new day and celebrates the first New Year's every year. I am now 17 hours ahead of New York time!
Last night after we got in, me and two guys who had been at the backpackers in Raro, Lee and Nick went out for a few beers. We ended up at a club that was hosting a fundraising party for a local rugby club (btw, rugby is HUGE in Fiji). We went in, had some beers, and ended up talking to one of the bouncers for a while. Nick asked him about kava, which is the national drink of Fiji. It's drunk everywhere and all the time. Businesses in Nadi have bowls of the stuff for staff to drink during the day. It consists of powdered roots of a specific pepper plant that are soaked in water and then drunk. It's not alcoholic, but it does supposedly have some mild hallucinogenic properties. Oh, and it tastes like muddy water from a ditch. The guy brought us over and gave us some. There's a ritual involved. You have to clap once, say "bula", drink the entire coconut shell of it in one go, and then everybody claps three times. It has to go around the circle clockwise. When you go into villages in Fiji, it's customary to present the chief with a bundle of kava roots in exchange for their hospitality. It didn't taste as bad as I expected, just watery with a hint of earth, like a raw potato, and didn't do anything to me other than giving me a numb tongue for a few minutes. There are tourist kava tours that you can pay for where they take you into a village and have the whole "experience" but its cool that we did it ourselves without having to pay somebody.
The last few days in Raro were pretty relaxing, which was good. The weather was a little rainy at the beginning of the week and most of us just hung out by the pool when the sun was out and watched movies when it wasn't. Not too exciting for a South Pacific Island, but definitely relaxing. One day while I was coming back from town, I passed by the airport just as a plane was coming in. The runway extends right to sea, and the road curves around the end of it. When a big plane comes in, people position themselves on the seawall right at the end of the runway and watch the plane come in 30 feet over their heads, so that was pretty fun. They even sell t-shirts at the airport that say "I survived the jetblast".
On Thursday the 25th, a Kiwi girl staying at the backpackers had got a tattoo from this guy who's famous on the island. He blends Polynesian and Maori designs and has done a lot of celebrities, including a lot of big-name rugby players and The Rock. Nadia got this cool fish that sorts of winds its way up her calf. I had been thinking about getting one every since I saw the one Paul has, and I really liked hers, so I decided to do it. I'm really happy with it and I'm glad I did it. Now I have a permanent souvenir of Rarotonga!
Ignore the sunburn, you're supposed to be looking at the tattoo!
One thing that's annoying about Nadi is that people here are really pushy, exactly the same stuff they do in SE Asia. Always trying to pull you into heir shops and sell you things, and they get offended when you don't stop and shake their hands when they offer it. It wouldn't be a problem if this were like Raro and they just wanted to shake your hand, but it's all a prelude to trying to con you.Luckily, I'm heading out of here tomorrow morning for the Yasawa Islands, which are a string of islands off the west coast of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji, with Lee, and I'll be out there for a week. The plan is then to come back to Viti Levu and take a bus around it, stopping at various places along the coast. I'm not sure what the internet situation will be, but hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures.