On Monday morning we got up early and got dropped off at Mango Junction in plenty of time to wait for our bus transfer to the airport. But, alas, in a typical example of 'Fiji time' a bus that was supposed to pick us up at 815am and take 2 hours ended up arriving at gone 9am and taking nearer 3 hours! Not ideal given that we had a boat to catch!
When we finally got dropped off in Nadi we were unsurprisingly hustled straight away by a guy who duly passed us on to a slightly crazy woman who, he assured us, was from the tour operator we wanted to speak to and, more importantly, claimed that we had to arrange everything here and now since you couldn't do anything at Derenau (this, predictably, would be proved absolute tosh later at the port!)
Needless to say, this woman led us off to what can only be described as a barren little shop run by her and her 'Uncle', who was soon very preoccupied with the "three beauties" that I was with. Until, that is, I walked out of the shop just to poke my head down the street, at which point he followed me out amid quickfire questioning about why I didn't want to buy a 10m underwater camera from him!
In the end the woman rung around and sorted everything out for us all in a typically relaxed way (promising us that we were booked on a boat later in the day at a time we had never seen quoted before!), and we had a couple of hours to experience the hustle and bustle of downtown Nadi.
We returned to the shop as agreed a couple of hours later, but all of a sudden the relaxed woman operating on Fiji time became a stressed out mama saying we were going to miss the boat (despite the fact we still had an hour and a half to go), and our free bus to get to the other free bus that would take us to the port had magically turned into an urgently required taxi! After her shouting at Becky to pay her deposit and at Uncle (who was still away with the fairies!) to flag a taxi, we ended up getting dropped off outside a random hotel in the blisteringly hot sun to wait for a bus which to be honest we had little to no faith was actually going to arrive! This wasn't helped when one such bus passed us by apparently not seeing us, though thankfully a nice dry cleaning guy put our minds at rest and told us to just wait a bit longer as another one would follow.
Eventually, after having to get the boat which was going other way round the loop to what we wanted it to (though this did mean we got to see a few of the other islands of the Mamanucas, some if which looked pretty lush - if only money was no object!), we finally arrived at Bounty Island (where Celebrity Love Island had been filmed no less!!) at around 530pm.
The next 6 days basically involved a lot of being lazy sunbathing by the pool and not a great deal else. The 'highlights' of anything other than this which we did were:
- walk around the whole of the island (taking a strenuous 25 minutes!)
- kayaking together round the island (amazingly we didn't really fall out with each other!)
- meeting some really interesting people such as a FT reporter who lives in China, a architect for the UN and a psychologist for a Dutch male prison (kinda makes audit seem pretty mediocre in comparison!)
- unexpectedly meeting up with Mary for the last couple of days
- a particularly heavy Friday night which ended with a 58% Bounty Rum induced jump in the pool (again!)
- a couple of traditional performances in the day, of which our personal favourite was the womens sitting down hand dance!
- nightly Bula songs where we became well versed in traditional tunes, especially the goodbye "Insalay" song
- a couple of afternoons where the storms really came (usually pretty soon after we had just lubed up!)
- a couple of days where Hutch was feeling sorry for herself with a sore throat and so Lolly sweet talked Matthew (our favourite guy from te resort) into taking a big bowl of extra ice cream for her as room service!
Throughout the week we had the dubious honour of having probably the two strangest people in the whole of the resort staying in our dorm - an old guy of very few words who told us to keep the door closed because "I have no mosquito bites; and that's nice!", and an absolutely mental Swedish dude (not an alpacker) who we tried to have as little to do with as possible (something which Hutch struggled to do when, dozing on her top bunk in the room, this guy decides to wake her up and get her to hop down to put sun cream on his back!!).
After saying bye to Lolly and Becky on Sarurday afternoon (most of which was spent hungover) we had ourselves a quiet last day on Sunday waiting for our boat scheduled at 525pm. However, with the afternoon storm getting worse, around 4pm we all of a sudden started getting shouted at because the boat was coming early and we weren't ready to leave - another example where when it suits Fiji time seems to go out of the window!
So, in a slightly stressful rush, we boarded the little boat on the shore which then takes you out into the middle of the sea to drop you off at the big boat, and then spent about 15 minutes bobbing around waiting for it to reach us. We were pretty sure that our big bags, on top of this small fishing boat, were gonna fall off into the sea as we had seen no kind of securing take place (as it turns out, it may be that Hutchs headtorch number 2 did in fact fall out and is currently being feasted on by Bounty Island fish!), and se we were pretty grateful when we finally got on the South Sea Cruise.
That said, my somewhat indifferent relationship with boats continued for the half hour trip back to the mainland, as I didn't find it at all comforting to look out of the window at 8 foot splashes going high up the boat either side!
Finally we were back on terra firma, but our little adventure in the rain was set to continue as we made our way to our shuttle busses to find that out of the half dozen or so waiting to take passeners to various different hotels, the one which had our name on it was the only one without any bone fide windows!! Instead, we had plastic curtains which the locals, once we were finally on the move after waiting for about an hour for seemingly nothing, then decided were best served tied up - wetting poor Hutch in the process!! The main thing that kept us smiling throughout was when an old, rather well-to-do English couple who were clearly on the wrong bus, got on and spent ages deciding which seat were least wet before then being told to get up and change busses, at which point the husband called the Fijians "clowns!". This has now become our new phrase!
The final mini drama in an eventful afternoon was when we were again given the double room nearest the bar, as well as the only one on the corridor not taken by a big group of locals who were basically getting on it and constantly stomping up and down and shouting, even at 4am! We really don't seem to have much look when it comes to trying to get a bit of peace and quiet!!
An early flight out on Monday morning brought to an end our 'holiday' within the trip, and we left a bit browner and definately happy that we had spent an extra week on the islands!