North Fiji Experience
James still can't get over losing a day in transit but after a shorter stopover in Auckland then we had originally expected as we got shoved on an earlier flight, we were on our way to the South Pacific. The flight was really good, only 3 and a bit hours and we were given delicious food and had the most entertaining flight safety information; it was all Lord of the Rings themed and quiet amusing! When we landed in Fiji airport we were greeted with Fijian music and on the way to our hostel we stopped by the side of the road for a freshly cut pineapple. We were in tropical paradise!
We had been told by a few people that Nadi wasn't the nicest place to base yourself in Fiji so we wanted to get organised early and plan what we were going to do for the next two weeks. We met Bella, one of the many friendly workers at our hostel, and he gave us great advice on where to go and what to do. Before arriving in Fiji we had only heard of the Yasawa islands and presumed this was the best place for travellers to head too. Thankfully Bella explained that we could visit the North and see a less touristy Fiji. We decided after seeing some gorgeous photos of some of the islands in the North that we would go for 5 days and then come back to see the Yasawas. We weren't 100% sure what our itinerary was or what we would be doing but luckily we had Gaby (another lovely Bamboo employee) to guide us and our new four German travel buddies; Uwe, Robin, Lars and David. We got to bed early on our first night after trying Lovo, the Fijians traditional cooking method where the food is cooked underground. It was a mixed response from us and the few people we were sitting with as to how delicious we thought it was. The chicken and aubergine was a big hit but nobody was quite sure about the mussels! A good eating experience though.
Our first morning on the start of our North combo trip and we were relieved to find out that we were getting a mini bus to Suva and not the public bus which we had read about before and was not supposed to be comfortable! The journey was 4 hours but we had great scenery along the way and picked up a few Fijians who came with us to Fiji's capital. We dropped our bags on the ferry and wandered into the city to have some lunch and for the boys to look at fake electrical goods. We bought some snacks for the ferry in the supermarket and were rewarded for our purchases with a scratch card. James and I won a pack of noodles and were pretty pleased with ourselves. Uwe scratched his card and won a kilo of salt! We laughed all the way down the road at how ridiculous this was for a backpacker but Uwe managed to buy some mangos in exchange for the salt! We got our spot on the ferry, prime position right in front of the cinema screen with space to lie down in front. We watched an independent film that was quite terrible and wandered around a bit thinking we were on our way. It turns out that even the ferries run on 'Fiji time' and we hadn't even left the dock! It was a 20 hour journey and we all struggled to get some sleep. It didn't help that we had a group of policeman around us snoring to their hearts content. We finally arrived in Tuveuni and it was a spectacular change of scenery. This was exactly how I had imagined Fiji. The evening we were all a bit lethargic and played a short game of Volleyball and I had my first Kava. It is not the most delicious drink but it is a nice social event and the effects are pretty nice!
The next morning we were up and ready for 10am. Well we were, Uwe is already keyed in with Fiji time and was a bit later, but we didn't have to worry we left later than originally planned. We picked up Amie and Raphael a pair from Qamea Island who joined us for the waterfall trek and we were on our way. The trek was a lot longer than I had anticipated but the views were stunning and company entertaining! The first waterfalls were hidden in the jungle and the water was freezing. Amie and I wimped out of jumping but the boys did us proud with some brave jumps and crazy moves. We had a short trek to the next waterfall and stopped for lunch and to learn the pose game which we liked but Robin did not! The last waterfall had a lower ledge to jump from so I joined in the fun. It was a great day out and Cody (old American guy) said it was his most enjoyable day yet. This is saying something as he has been biking around Fiji for about 2 months! We had some more Kava time in the evening and the Germans caught geckos.
Our last day in Tuveuni we got a small boat to Honeymoon Island, a beautiful location and the sun was finally out. We all had a snorkel around the island with some top quality equipment and James and I helped Gaby make a sign out of shells when the trouble began. David came running over exclaiming he had hurt his finger. We got back to the main island as soon as possible and he had to get the next flight back to Nadi for an x-ray. We wished him well and said goodbye before we the rest of us got a boat to Qamea Island and Maqai Beach Resort. We were welcomed to the gorgeous location by Matteo playing the guitar, Tony singing, Ruth, Kat, Annika and Ana clapping along. The German boys look delighted at the sight of girls and Uwe made me laugh when he said 'girls… I like girls!' The resort was very basic but really nice and immediately we felt a part of the family. It was volleyball time so we joined in and had fun at Kava time with the Papaya song, horny animal song and enjoyed a good Fijian dinner.