Yes its been ages since we've written a blog, tisk tisk! we'll force each other to do better from now on! This will however be another long one as it'll be the whole of Fiji in one blog. So apologies already!
OK so when we last wrote we were in Christchurch ready to fly out to Nadi! We arrived at the airport at about 8am for what we thought was our 9 something internal flight to Auckland. However when we arrived we couldn’t find the internal flight desk for Quantas as the internal flights had changed to Jet Star. So obviously we thought this wasn’t too good. This was confirmed when we found out or flight had been moved to 8:10am and no one had informed us. Guess what time it was when she told us... yep that’s right dead on 8:10, the plane taking off as she spoke. Excellent. Luckily the lady behind the desk was really helpful and sorted it all out for us making it so that we took a early flight with another company so that we could connect with our Nadi flight. So we had couple of hours to do nothing in the very quiet Christchurch Airport with one souvenir shop and one cafe. Of course then our new flight was delayed, only by a little a first but then this kept adding up until it was about an hour late before we got on the flight. We were working it out and if we ran we should still meet our connecting flight, this was until we waited on the runway for another 30mins and realised there was a slim to no chance of getting our connecting flight.
When we landed in Auckland, because we had to change to a different airline it meant that we were had to wait for our bags to come out pick them up and run to the international terminal. As you've probably guessed the check in closed a long time ago. So we had to find the Quantas help desk where we were served by a very sarcastic but helpful non the less chap. He told us the next flight wasn't until tomorrow afternoon, and didn’t really say what he was going to do, we just heard him ringing up a HOTEL and saying we needed a room with DINNER and BREAKFAST included. We were ecstatic, but tried to keep our cool and look like that was the norm. We couldn't believe it! All those nights in horrible dirty hostel bunkbeds living on beans on toast and noodles and we had a proper hotel and real meals! not being told about that flight was the best thing to happen to us. It was the perfect goodbye to New Zealand.
So the next day we actually got on a plane to Fiji! When we landed in Nadi (pronounced Nandi - who knew?) it was bright blue skies, hot and sunny. It was wonderful! You could smell how tropical it was when we got off the plane and immediately started sweating our faces off not used to the heat. When we came out of the airport we were greeted by a lovely Fijian man and there was none of this 'hostility' that was all over the news. We got a free lift to the hostel which was nice and we crammed about 20 people into two tiny minibuses bags and all! We arrived at Smugglers Cove a lovely hostel on the beach, where i was tackled to the ground when i got out of the van. It was Flo of course. For those of you who haven’t been reading, we met Flo in Peru travelled with her and Chrissy to Bolivia, then met her in New Zealand and now again in Fiji. We actually stayed next door in the cheaper 'Mamas tropic of Capricorn' where we could still use Smugglers facilities. We got straight in and changed out of out jeans, we knew it would be hot but New Zealand was still freezing so we had to wear them! That night had out first experience of Kava, a traditional Fijian drink and welcoming ceremony. Its made from the root of a pepper plant apparently, but looks just like a muddy puddle and tastes like it too. We shared this with the Kavaholics 3 blokes who spend every Thursday at Mama hostel forcing people to drink kava and singing on their ukuleles! That night Flo Maggie and Turlough all got extremely drunk and I (the saint) didn't. Which of course meant i had too look after them all. Sigh. The next day however we spent floating around the pool and Nadi beach, which is really a let down for Fiji. For some reason the sand there is a really dark brown like mud. So if any one ever goes make sure you get off the main island! We also organised the rest of the trip, and realised we had very little money. The next day we left with Flo and Maggie to Robinson Crusoe island for 4 nights. We got a bus at first where we met a nice chap from Germany called Christian. From the bus we got in a tiny little boat tin can boat along a river that lead out to sea. Robinson Crusoe was a tiny island just off shore, and when we arrived we had the first of many "Bula" greetings with a nice welcoming song. It was a beautiful place, all island themed with straw roofs and hammocks everywhere. We were in a 24 bed dorm, which was never full and our beds were covered in these mosquito nets which felt more like coffins. They did the trick though! When we arrived it was just in time for lunch! Our whole trip was all inclusive so we were worried about what the food was like, but we didn’t have too as it was amazing. The first day we had a 'lovo' ceremony the traditional way in which the Fijians cook their food underground. Then it was all served up in a lovely buffet. That day we didn’t really do much (you'll notice a theme here) Turlough went for a snorkel with his new friend Christian (fleeting holiday romance), but there was a seaweed influx so i decided to pass.
The next day we decided to brave the hostel showers. I say we, i mean the girls as Turlough decided to turn into a tramp over Fiji and barely showered. The 'showers' were in face buckets with taps at the bottom. You had to fill up your bucket from an outside tap and hang it above your head. It was actually really refreshing having a freezing cold shower as it was so hot! It was quite hard to wash your hair with only one bucket full of water. Staff had put signs everywhere guilt tripping you by saying that people had carried this water to the island and that most Fijians don’t have any running water, so only use one bucket! By the end of the 4 days I think i managed to reduce my shower time forever, it was a skill. The next day was also followed by a lot of swimming or lying around reading. In the evening however we had one of the most amazing curries ever. AS it was buffet everyone just kept going back for more and more, especially popadoms! After dinner we all went on the islands 'crab hunt.' It was a disaster. About 30 people followed one man into the bush when it was pitch black with only 3 torches. Most people didn’t wear flip flops so they cut their feet, everyone was tripping over all the time and trying to spook people out. Whenever we did find a crab it was one of those gigantic spider looking ones that freaked most people out anyway. We generally thought that we were all being lead to our death somewhere. After about 30mins later we luckily made it to the beach where I got into a fight with a thorn bush and everyone realised their legs were crawling with sand flies! I think we're still lucky to have made it back at all!
On the Tuesday, Turl and I went on a snorkel trip twice! We took bread to feed the fish and they were all around us in feeding frenzy, it was so much fun. This took us up to the evening where again there were hardly any people staying and so we had another really good night of food and a few beers kindly bought for us by the girls. The next morning we were up early and tried our hand at coconut jewelry making, needless to say that we were just awful at it. Maggie cheated however and got one of the staff member Lex to do hers and showed off with her great bangle.
That afternoon Fran and the girls went on a trip to a local school. It was a great experience to see how clever the Fijian kids were. Even though they all spoke Fijian (obviously) they had to speak and learn in English at school, only speaking in Fijian if they found something really difficult! Can you imagine trying to learn in a completely different language! We had a tour round and got to see the new buildings and facilities available from the money from doing these tours. Whenever we went into a class room the kids would act shy until you took out your cameras and they all leapt up and were going mad for them! (see photos)
That evening another group of people came for the evening show and the buffet. Before they arrived we sat on the beach with a guitar and sang some songs, this was great. The new group arrived for the evening; we sang the welcome song and the drum sounded for dinner. After eating we took our seats and waited for the show to begin. The Fijian girls would do a dance, this was nice but the real action started when the boys came out to do their traditional war dances, knife spinning and the grand finale; the fire dance, this was incredible and would involve them standing on one another whilst spinning their flaming poles, throwing them high in the air and catching them behind their backs and all of them coming together at the end to do a huge group ensemble, incredible. After the show had finished we (the Islanders) got together and sang farewell to the visitors and followed them on to the beach to wave them off. Once they had got on the boat we waved them off and they started their journey back to the Mainland. We then couldn’t help but notice a two meter water snake slither past towards the sea. Obviously we started screaming these snakes are deadly but cannot administer poisons that easily as their fangs are at the back of their mouth. This seemed to only encourage one of the Fijian lads to pick the snake up and chase us around the beach with it, then hurl it into the sea once he’d had his fun. Not amusing in the slightest.
The next morning was to be our last morning on the Island and so we tried, again, in vain, to make some more coconut jewelry, this was clearly never meant to be. I (Turlough) was so bad at this, I lacked the very basic levels of artistic skills and to be honest my heart really wasn’t in it. I tried to make one (three) for Fran but they were complete rubbish; wonky, abrasive, to big, just plain crap, a waste of 2 hours. Anyway we were able to before we left get out free 15 minute massage, this was lovely, even though the lady that massaged me was in no real fit state to be doing so, she was pregnant and just about ready to burst. When I turned up I thought this is pretty bad; the last thing she’d be wanting to do is rub some tubbyish, sun burnt, English clown this far into her pregnancy. Never the less it was very nice and set us up perfectly to leave the Island. We got onto the boat and expected everyone to be there to sing us off, not one person came to wave us off and we left the Island completely un noticed to get back to the mainland where we were scheduled to get to the harbor and sort our boat to Mana Island.
It Fran back writing now… did you notice I was gone? I wrote loads of the blog and it got deleted and I couldn’t face writing it anymore so Turlough had to write some and that’s how far he got! We actually got a real sized boat to Mana, not one of the tin cans as this island also had a 5 star resort and so the island had its own jetty. When we got off we found Flo, Maggie and Christian again and went back to the hostel that they were staying in. It wasn’t quite up to the scratch of Robinson Crusoe. The island basically consisted of this 5 star resort, a village where all the workers lived, and two hostels. Our hostel was on the beach but also in the village. There was no room for us so we stayed in one of the urine rooms belonging to a neighbor. To be fair it wasn’t bunk beds, just goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining. As we were late for lunch they cooked something up especially for us. It was awful. Nothing like the glorious buffets of Robinson Crusoe island. It was a horrible greasy cabbage stir fry thing with bones and not meat. I couldn’t even bring myself to force any down out of politeness, it was bone! We just ate the rice and bread and this was pretty much all I ate on Fiji! That afternoon Flo and I went on a walk to try and find some freebies to give Maggie as it was her birthday the next day. On our search we bumped into our friend Gry from Robinson Crusoe with a local called Sam. He took us further into the village to see what we could find. It was a real eye opening to see how the real Fijians lived, we wondered whether the people staying in the resort knew how they lived. While we were looking around and being greeted by the always friendly Fijians Sam heard the name of his Aunty who he had never met and found out that she lived there. So we were part of a little family reunion and everything.
Turlough and I went for a walk along the beach at sunset where we walked passed some school kids who were collecting sand. On the way passed they mocked Turlough who was wearing his Hiking boots along the beach which I found Hilarious. But on the way past they caught sight of his jeff Buckley tattoo and were then in complete ore. That night we push dinner around our plates and ate rice and bread again and then avoided some forced fun ‘island games.’
The next day we woke Maggie up really early to snig Happy Birthday and give her, her presents. During signing that really long song, Happy Birthday someone actually told us to be quiet, and then girl came over and actually said “It’s your birthday? It’s always someone’s birthday here.” I couldn’t believe it! A simple Happy Birthday would have done it but no, you want to spring out that ‘you’re not special in any way downer.’ Anyway Maggie clearly loved her random found on the beach rubbish and as it was her special day we headed over to the other side of the island to where they filmed the TV show Survivor. We were followed over there by a stray dog and soon found out that it was a complete let down. The beach we were on was much nicer and this place was fly ridden. It was quite spooky seeing the run down huts that were left over from the show, but it didn’t mean much to any of us as non of us actually watched it. So we headed back through the village to our side of the island to snorkel there.
Flo Maggie and I went snorkeling but Turlough stayed on the beach as he was being a misery. We had to swim passed some seaweed to get to the coral, but when we did it was well worth it. It was beautiful, with loads of fish all over the place. We swam out to the edge of the coral then got scared by the depth so hang around by the wall, enjoying all the tropical fish and beautiful colours. Everything was going great until I suddenly felt something squishy against my foot. As I glanced down, you guessed it, a disgusting jellyfish was bobbing around me feet. EUGH. Obviously I screamed at the top of my lungs JELLYFISH and Maggie joined in with me and we began to bomb it back to shore. Flo being the strange girl that she is stuck around for some reason I’ll never know as me and Maggie were out of there in a shot. On our way back to shore we saw load more jellyfish as a group must have come in with the current. Unfortunately I was stuck behind Maggie officially the slowest swimmer in history and couldn’t pass as she was surrounded by jellyfish AND seaweed. My worst nightmare. At one point I put my face under the water there was a jelly about a foot in front of my face! No jokes it was horrific. When we finally made it back to shore still screaming jellyfish we were greeted by Turloughs “I know.” A serious lack of a reaction for the near death experience we had just encountered. As it turns out they weren’t stinging ones, but how were we supposed to know that at the time?
That night we ‘went out’ for Maggies birthday and by ‘went out’ I mean went to our hostel’s bar which supplied about two different drinks. Unfortunately we had to play some ‘island games’ to begin with which is never fun but afterward had a great time. We danced with Maria who worked at the hostel, who was the only good thing from it, and nearly made up for the boney meat. Looking back at those photos you can really see how hot and humid Fiji was as we look like the sweatiest things ever.
The next morning Flo and Maggie headed back to the mainland to catch their flight home. We waved them off from the beach where a storm was starting. It was sad to see them go and even worse when we realized that there isn’t much to do in Fiji whilst there is a storm. We had to wait around (and enjoy another delicious bone meal) until the afternoon to catch a boat to Beachcomber island. The storm had really kicked off by the time we got our boat and it was VERY rocky. About a third of the passengers were throwing up from seasickness, it was so bad they were handing out sick bags! They obviously didn’t cancel any boats or anything and in true Fijian style just plowed through the waves at full speed. Never seen the ‘fast cat’ to the IOW speed that fast! When we got close to the island we had to get off our big safe cat and onto one of the little tin can boats to venture to the island, risky!
Unfortunatley for us paupers this island was the ‘party island’ and the dorm had 100 beds in it. Fine I’m sure if you’ve got the money to have a few beverages, but for us being sober, it was hell. They place was full of 18 year old British gap year students who were drinking in the dorm until about 1:30am when they went to the ‘club.’ What a pair of oldies we felt! Luckily there was good food and some baby reef sharks that swam up to the shore in the evening. I actually managed to get a few hours of sleep too, but Turl found it difficult to drop off with the girly screams off “WE”RE GOING SWIMMING IN THE SEA” all night long. We only stayed the one night (shockingly) and headed up north the next morning.
Luckily the storm had passed and it was bright blue skies again the next day. We decided to go all the way to the most northern Island on our “Bula pass” Nacula. The storm had passed but unfortunately it had gone north so we followed it up and had another journey of avoiding the vomiters. As it was about a 5 hour journey we passed the storm and it was sunny when we got off the boat. It was another case of catching a tin can to the island that we wanted. The waters surrounding Nacula were incredible neither of us had ever seen anything so blue and clear in our lives. The island itself was a complete contrast to Beachcomber as there was only 8 of us staying on there in total. This worked out in our favor as it meant that we got our own shack even though we had only paid for dorm rooms! We had a double bed, not bunks, a table AND a sofa. Oh the high life. We decided to stay two nights here as the food was really good too!
As we were more north it was a lot sunnier and hotter than the previous islands and we spent our days lazing around in the sun reading books and occasionally (when I could force Turlough) swimming in the sea. Evenings were spent playing cards with the other guys staying there and the friendly staff.
That night however, being in the more tropical region of the Yasawas, we were in for a treat. We went back to our shack at about 8:50pm as the generator gets turned off at 9pm cutting all electricity on the island! It took us a while to open our door as I had forbidden Turlough from putting our outside light on as it would attract the midgies which were swarming round over peoples lights. Amateurs. When we eventually got in we quickly shut the door behind us… and that’s when we saw it. On the middle of the floor we spotted a GIGANTIC black death spider the size of my palm. Just as we saw it, the lights cut PLUNGING us in to complete darkness. It was like something from a horror show. We both screamed for our lives obviously and I leapt onto the sofa not knowing where it could have run too. During the panic we didn’t know what we had done with the torch so had to use the dimmest phone light of all time to keep our eye on it. Turlough then went to look through his bag for our torch and just when we thought it was over… a cockroach came crawling out and running all over the place. EUGH. What kind of insect house were we living in. If there was a cockroach in his bag where on earth else could they be!? Eventually Turlough found the torch and we had to think fast about what to do. We couldn’t leave it in our shack as neither of us would have slept a wink. Then we remembered there was a cup by the water tap so Turlough went to get it, and I watched the spider from atop the sofa. After about 5 minutes of freaking out Turlough actually managed to get this cup over the spider, I have no idea how as it was definitely bigger than a cup, but he did it. We the put the bin over the top of the cup and left it. However 5 minutes later being the idiots that we are, we started to feel sorry for the spider and worried that it couldn’t breathe. We were the visitors in its house after all! We decided to get some form of paper and do the ol’ paper under the mug technique. However this wasn’t your usual English house spider, so we thought it might break/eat its way through paper, and used our Skydiving DVDs instead. Turlough re affirmed his man status that night as he actually carried the spider (in the cup/DVD cage) in his hands! Obviously we then we had to walk as far away from our hut as possible to release it so far away it would not want to come back! After that horrendous ordeal obviously we couldn’t sleep a wink. Luckily we had one of those mosquitoes nets surrounding our bed and I tucked it under the mattress as much as possible so it was taught. I don’t think they actually keep anything out as most of them have holes in, but it gives a little bit of piece of mind that you need! We spent ages flicking the torch about to different parts of the room checking for any other unwanted visitors. Unfortunately the roofs were thatched with old palm leaves which a) are ideal housing for all things creepy and b) cast great spider looking shadows about the place when lights are shined on them. Luckily we both had our books to read to try and pretend like we were somewhere else until we eventually fell asleep.
The next night went similar to the previous night apart from this time, we were prepared. Just as I was making Turlough check every inch of the bed, and each of our bags I glanced behind me and.. you guessed it… an EVEN bigger spider was halfway up the door. This one was a horrific grey thing and you could see the light shining on its many eyes. This was too big for us to deal with even after our heroics of the previous evening. This called for a greater power. We ran squealing to get the staff member who was turning off the generator. Luckily, we were just in time to catch him and he laughed at how ‘ridiculous’ we were being. He was laughing saying they couldn’t hurt us. As if that’s ever the point. The point is I didn’t want one crawling over my face in the night. He was saying that he was going to pick it up in his bare hands of all things when we got back to the shack and saw it had gone. That’s right, it had gone SOMEWHERE in the room in which we had to sleep. We searched around as much as we could but couldn’t find it anywhere! Eventually the man had to leave us and we had to sleep in the spider shack.
That was the first Island of the Yasawa groups; we loved it by day… but lived in fear by night. We’re going to give you touch readers a break now and continue with the other islands in the next blog. Thanks for reading.
*Apologies for any errors in this, its taken us so long to write it that we haven't re read it!*