I know, I know. It's been a few days and all you blog junkies are missing your regular hit. I am sorry, but as it turns out, computers are few and fair between in Fiji, and finding one with internet is a minor miracle.
However, we are currently in a relatively big city, and so here I am. A couple of days late, but I believe absence makes the heart grow fonder. so without further ado - "Bula from Fiji"!
So, we arrived two days ago - an uneventful flight took us from Auckland to Nadi. We met a crew on the plane who were headed to a pharmaceutical conference on the island, and they had been they before. They filled our head with images of paradise and sublime beauty.
When we landed, we were not dissapointed.
The first thing we had to do was pick up our transport for the week - yes, Rob and Dan have a set of wheels at the moment. initially we were going to get a small hatchback to ferry us from village to village. But after careful consideration, we decided that we drive boring cars anywhere, and so went for a much more exciting option - after all, we are on an adventure!
ladies and gentleman, we are driving ourselves around mainland Fiji in a brand new Toyota Rav4 - affectionately, yet not imaginably named Rav by its drivers - our newest companiion. And thank God we did go for that - a 4x4 is essential.
it's not just that the roads are rubbish - more often than not they are not even there. There is one main road that circles the island, and that takes you to all the main villages. But if you want to venture inland, there is nothing but gravel tracks that the original Yaris we were meant to have, would not have coped with! Driving is easy though - as long as you avoid the potholes that are as common as acne on a thirteen year old, and don't overtake on the bends as locals whizz round at top speed, you're laughing.
So anyway, we drove straight from the airport to a hotel in Lautoka, Fiji's second largest town. By the time we got there though everything was closed, so we just and watched yet another sunset together. It was starting to get cloudy, so the sky was a mixture of so many colours. Reds seeped into the oranges which in turn led to pinks, all running into another, spread by the clouds acting like a brush onto the canvas of the sky.
We had to be up early the next day to go on a walk in the highlands, which meant an early night, so after dinner our first night in Fiji was spent.
As the alarm woke us at 6 the next morning, we were ready for a hard trek. As far as we were aware, we had to travel about 20km out of town to get to the start, which was inland along the aforementioned gravel "roads'. Alas, it was not that simple, and as we drove past our hotel three times before we even found the right direction, we could tell the U-turn would be the most frequent manourvere this week. (I have now mastered it, and can achieve it on any small road or track in just two moves!)
We drove through three or four villages, before conceeding defeat and asking for directions. The man we asked could not understand a word we siad. We were defeated.
We were lost.
But have no fear. Two ex BSCCF cadets could find a way out. If in doubt, just drive. 20 minutes of turning whenever we felt like it, and trusting our instincts paid off and before we knew it we were back on the main coast road. No problems. We gave up on the walk, and spent the morning just offroading, following old tracks, taking pictures, and discovering hidden places. This led us to Elliot Wharf, advertising sea sports.
We fancied a kayak trip, so enquired and within 30 minutes we were on a boat to a small Island nearby, leaving Rav behind, to spend the night at Safari Lodge, a resort run by two Australians. This was not how the day was meant to go, but it's funny how things turn out - we were so lucky to find it.
the small Island has a few resortd on it, which is surprising, as it could not have been more than 1km all the way round. It was the paradise we had expected - beaches blinding you with their golden dunes, coconuts lying in the sand like daisys in a field, and the sea glistening as if shattered glass had been spread across it's surface. The wind was too high to kayak, but we walked the beach, leaving our footprints behind us to be washed away by the tide, as it had done to the many people before us, but making you feel like the place had been untouched. After a brief exploration, the rest of our day was spent lying in hammocks, beneath the sun, sipping cocktails. (Actually, no cocktails, but you get the drift.)
Disaster the next day though - rain. Tropical rain too - torrentail but warm. we had to get back to the mainland to continue our drive, and so needed another boat trip. We managed to pick up some strays on the way too. Because there is little to do when it's raining at the isolated lodge, 5 of the guests wanted to come in the car to Suva.
5 guests - 2 drivers.
That makes 7 people.
Rav has 5 seats.
But a big boot! So we all crammed in, and our road trip was on the way again, this time with excess baggage, in the best possible sense.
The roads this time were worse - either mini lakes ensuring aquaplaining occurred non-stop, or worse still, the rain had washed the road away completely, and we had to guess at where it was and which direction to go.
After a three hour journey we arrived in Suva though, only just dry from the boat trip, our sodden clothes now giving off a faint aroma of damp. We checked into a hotel, and went straight out on the town. Dinner and drinks ensued, and inevitably, we ended up at a Karaoke bar - the best ice breaker. Unfortunately, I was the only one who sang, but I wowed this Fijian crowd with my talents.
They have asked me back tonight.
Hopefully I can persuade the others!
We set off to Nadi tomorrow, I think still with some extra passengers.
Hopefully the weather will improve.
Hopefully I will be able to get to a computer to keep you updtaed.
Hopefully - there is karaoke!