Fiji - Mana, Bounty and Nadi
We left Taveuni by plane as previously mentioned. What an experience! It took exactly 4 minutes to get from the hostel to the airport, through check in and to the gate for the flight. The airport was little more than a bus stop, with no walls just a roof and some benches. At the check in the man weighed our bags and then us! I thought he was joking when he said to step on the scales, he explained on such a small plane all weight matters. I don't know what happens if they decide you weigh too much! After a few minutes waiting the plane landed, it was the tiniest thing I'd ever seen. We watched them load our luggage into the tail of the plane and then they came and opened a gate to let us on, there were 8 passenger seats made of 4 bench type seats and we were sat directly behind the pilots. It was so dodgy, the fasten seatbelt sign was written on a black bit of plastic in tipex, the emergency exit and do not open door notices were handwritten onto the inside of the plane in red pen, it was hilarious. Before we took off the pilot said "it's pretty windy out there today, and it's a small plane, but we'll get you there". He didn't exactly fill me with confidence. As the plane took off it made an immense noise, we couldn't speak to each other over the sound of the engines. In such a small plane you could feel every gust of wind and the whole plane dropped and swerved a lot. Eventually it smoothed out and we were able to enjoy some beautiful views of the Fijian islands. Halfway through the flight one of the pilots casually started reading the Fiji Times newspaper which I thought was bizarre. We could see all the controls and switches, as we came in to land we could see the pilots steering, it appeared that they were just flinging the steering wheel left and right and hoping for the best, I have a great video of the landing, it was pretty nerve wracking but it all went well and was an awesome experience, so much better than that boat!!
After a night back in Nadi I headed to another island called Mana, this island was a lot closer, just a 45 minute boat ride through the Mamanuca island group. Mana island is like paradise, it is a very small island, you can walk around it in an hour or so. It is surrounded by white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters. On arrival I was welcomed off the boat by some of the hostel staff singing and playing guitars, they gave me a cocktail and introduced me to other travellers that had just arrived. It was a really friendly atmosphere and I felt at home immediately. The dorms were clean and airy and they were right next to Mana island school, the hostel and hotel staff on the island all live here so there is one small school right behind the hostel.
I was walking to my dorm a little after arriving when I found a tiny puppy which could only have been a week old wandering around. It seemed lost and very weak, it kept falling over and was whimpering. I picked it up and then I met a girl named Ella as she was also trying to get to another puppy out from under the building. It transpired, once we asked the staff at the hostel if they knew where the mother was, that the locals had killed the mother so that the puppies would die. I couldn't believe it, I had seen that Fijians don't really see animals in the same way as we do in England. They are seen more as a pest. As Mana is quite a small island there is a bit of a dog problem as none of the dogs are neutered so they just keep breeding and there's no where for them to go. We eventually found the rest of the puppies in a half built out-building. There were 7 in total and we made it our mission to look after them. I just couldn't let them die!! The hostel offered free breakfast and had flasks of milk, so we filled water bottles up with milk and added sugar, we then fed this to the puppies, they loved it! We did this 3 or 4 times a day and became really attached to them. We named them all, which was a bad idea as about 3 of them were very small and ill and were clearly not going to make it. By the end of my time on Mana island the puppies were much stronger and bigger which made me really happy. On the last day before I left two of the biggest puppies were missing but one of the staff said it will mean that locals have taken them as pets as they were the strongest, so they will hopefully be looked after. I don't know what happened to the others and I don't really want to think about it as it's so sad!!
There isn't much to do on Mana island so we spent a lot of time exploring the different beaches and sunbathing, I read a lot of books and got even more tanned! I am so dark now, it's crazy! One of the beaches, Sunset beach was a beautiful beach and from it you could see three islands, the furthest one on the left was where they filmed castaway! After another 5 days relaxing and looking after puppies it was time to head to Bounty island for one night.
Bounty island was a tiny sandy island, you could walk around it in about 15 minutes along the beach. It was pretty and relaxing but it was a bit boring as there were no travellers there really, there were mainly couples so I was just on my own for the day. I went snorkelling and had a go on the sea trampoline which was fun. The next day I headed back to Nadi.
All the staff welcomed me back and remembered my name even though I'd been away from the hostel for 2 and a half weeks! It was like returning home and lots of people I had met in my first week were still there or had come back. It was great catching up with everyone and having nightly kava ceremonies again. I spent nearly a week just hanging out in Nadi, helping the staff with their jobs and making coconut jewellery. It really felt like home and I can see how they are so happy to be working there. When it eventually came to my last night everyone sang me the farewell song. Every evening at the kava circle the entertainment staff sing a farewell song to everyone that's leaving. I was the only person leaving the next day and instead of just the entertainment staff loads of the kitchen staff, travel desk, receptionists and cleaners came over and sang for me, I had been there on and off for over 5 weeks and had made friends with a lot of the staff so it was really lovely but very sad that I was leaving!
The next morning I had ordered a taxi for 8am and some of the staff waved me off as I left, I was nearly crying and really didn't want to go! I had also become quite ill overnight so was not liking the idea of getting on a cramped plane for 3 hours. But on to New Zealand I went!