The arrival into Nadi airport was a welcome relief from the hassle and grief at US immigration. We entered into a tiny airport with 3 Fijians sporting Hawaiian shirts playing guitars and singing a traditional Fijian welcoming song. Bula!
We stayed for a couple of nights on the main island to make our plans for transport around the numerous Fijian islands. Having left Mak on his own for 5 minutes, we returned to discover him sat with one of the locals, crossed-legged under a palm tree sharing a coconut and stories of old. Fijian life seems to come naturally for our Mak. We met a couple of fellow travellers, Sam and Laura who joined us to watch a Fijian fire dance, which was basically oiled-up men in loin clothes throwing fire around. We later realised that this would be the nightly entertainment for the next 3 weeks.
We booked 9 days at Mana Island to wait for Smiler, and continued to the Yasawa islands for the remainder of the 3 weeks. Mana island is fairly small which can be walked around in 3 hours. The island had classic postcard scenery: palm tree lined white sandy beaches and turquoise seas. However, paradise comes at a cost, the electricity came on at 5 if we were lucky and the cold dribbling showers that we had complained about the first night were soon treasured when the water went off completely for the next few days!We soon adjusted to the simple lifestyle and passed the time with snorkelling, night-fishing, crab fighting, trekking and drinking with the travellers we met, big shout out to Patrick, Emma, Kiera, Duncan, Alex, Jen, Taka, Tomo, Eavan and Kathryn.After 9 days of lazing on the beach, Mr. Neil Smiler Miles graced us with his much-travelled presence and we took off towards the Yasawa islands. The first stop was Beachcomber, the renowned party island, where the bar closed at 11pm! Our concerns however soon passed as we met up with some friends from our days in Mana and continued the drinking games late into the night, including the Crust having his shirt ripped off by Brooke and receiving a beer shower from his pals (part of our show from the coconut race). Next stop was Nacula, the furthest island in the Yasawas from the main island and also the most basic. The hostel resembled a village of small huts shared between us, a colony of insects and a huge crab. Thank God for the mosquito nets!Night entertainment included mandatory traditional Kava ceremony with Neil voicing his disgust and mocking years of Fijian tradition. Our host, Fiji Peter, was not happy and took an instant dislike to Neil. We quickly moved on and found a bar and met cockneys Tony and George to chat about football and beer.On the Sunday, it was off to church of course, so we donned our sarongs and headed to the village. In order to visit the village you have to visit the chief with gifts (he takes cash), so we paid off the chief to allow us to use the only telephone situated in the village only to discover they had no phonecards. We came to the conclusion that we had obviously not paid the chief enough!Our next boat trip took us to the island of Naviti, which included more of the same banter, Fiji Bitter, drinking games and relaxing in hammocks in the afternoon sun. It was there where we said our goodbyes to Smiler and even felt ourselves that it was time to get back to civilisation. Bring on the Kiwis!