Day 179 to 186 - Savusavu, Vanua Levu - Thursday 12th to Thursday 19th April 2012
The beep of the alarm woke us and our bleary eyed self's looked at the clock to confirm it was indeed 3.45am. We dressed and were out of the door by 4am ready to start our epic journey over to Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu.
After twelve hours of travel on a bus, then a boat, then a bus followed by another bus and then finally a taxi, we arrived at the Daku resort in Savusavu absolutely knackered and very sweaty. The journey hadn't been too bad and was made more bearable by the people watching and very cute little boy in front of us on our final bus - he kept on playing peek-a-boo over the top of the seat and had the biggest, most beautiful brown eyes full of mischievous playfulness.
The resort setting and Savusavu was wonderful; palm trees swayed in the breeze on a backdrop of serene blue sea and distant clouded mountains. The resort, if you can call it that -it's only about 4 bures and another 3 little houses all set around the pool, seemed nice and was staffed by a Fijian family that live on the land.
We dropped off our stuff in our ocean bure and headed straight for the pool for a well needed dip in cool water. After relaxing for a few hours we settled down for dinner in the resort restaurant - the food being cooked by the mum of the Fijian family. It was scrumptious - fish in a sweet and slightly spicy marinade with creamed potatoes and fresh veg followed by fruit salad. Full up, clean and happy we headed for bed.
The following five days consisted of us sleeping in, eating yummy breakfasts of fresh fruit and toast with locally made honey, sunbathing (when it wasn't raining which unfortunately it did quite a bit of, trust us to visit Fiji in the wet/hurricane season!), a bit of yoga on the deck up in the hill overlooking the sea (for me not Ad), reading, walking into town and wandering around, watching far too much entourage on our laptop and just generally chilling out. In the evenings we either ate at the resort or went into the town to have a beer overlooking the harbour followed by some food at one of the town's restaurants.
On the second night we were invited to house of the Fijian family, who worked in the resort, for a fundraising event. We were both dubious to say the least but have learned that sometimes you just have to be open to things and only take what you are willing to spend! Ad put $60 in his pockets (Fijian dollars - about £20) and we headed to the home. Thankfully another couple from NZ were also being dragged along and so when we arrived it was us, the NZ (well Australian originally, now living in Auckland) couple John and Ann and the Fijian family - it seemed that all of the other family, friends of the family and sponsors were 'busy'!!. Anyway, we were given the spiel about how they need to raise money for their daughter's university fees as she was training to be a doctor and they were struggling to pay the money for this and so they thought they'd do the fundraiser to try and get some extra cash. Anyway…………the fundraiser basically involved four rounds of cards where you had to buy two or three cards (at $4 each) and then a card would be picked out and the winner would win some beer. $60 later we were out of money and so declared ourselves out of the game - poor John ended up buying our cards which made us feel a bit guilty! Once the games were over, Kenny (the dad) announced they had raised $200 - not bad for an hour's worth of cards. After this we chatted albeit slightly awkwardly, Kenny (the dad) suddenly didn't seem to want to talk to us anymore and seemed to ignore most of my questions, before excusing ourselves for bed - John and Anne did the same! The pivotal part of the evening was when I asked Kenny what his daughter was training to be and he answered a pathologist, so I asked what that was and the answer came that it was something to do with operations. Now I probably would have believed this had Ann not followed this by saying she was a pathologist and explained what it actually was - not do to with operations!! The look on Kenny's face was a picture, his eyes literally popped out of his head! Anyway it wasn't quite as bad as it sounds (the mum and eldest son George were very friendly and chatty and we learnt a bit about the Fiji culture and lifestyle) so we decided to put it down to experience. On the plus side, we got to try some kava - this is a traditional Fijian drink which actually just looks like dirty water and unsurprisingly it also tasted like dirty water - I think it's fair to say it is disgusting!!!
On the forth night we went into town with John and Ann to have dinner; it was their last night before heading back home to Auckland. The afternoon rain was still coming down heavily but luckily John and Ann had a car so we jumped in and headed to the Captains table restaurant on the waterfront. We had a lovely evening chatting over dinners of fish curries - Ann and John's stories of John being born in Fiji and them both travelling when they were younger and whilst on their travels them meeting in Santorini, one of the Greek islands (of all places) were great to hear. Come the end of the night Ann and John announced they were going to get the dinner, saying that they remembered some of the kind gestures people showed them whilst they were travelling. It was such a kind gesture and we were both really humbled. Thanks again guys!!
Wednesday came and presented another early morning which was to be followed by another marathon journey over to Levuka, the old capital, on the island of Ovalau. We were due meet the bus at 5am and so the night before had changed hotel to a little budget place just outside of town which was a quarter of the price of Daku and a five minute walk from the bus station. However it seemed budget had it in for us; the beds were the most uncomfortable beds in the world and the fan hardly worked so we spent the night boiling hot and hardly sleeping. When I eventually did get off to sleep I was woken up again in what seemed minutes later to a bright light and a panicked looking Adam. "It's 5.20am!!!" Ad shouted. In lightning speed, we dressed and literally ran to the bus station only to find it completely deserted and no bus. Apparently the bus had left only fifteen minutes before and the one taxi driver in the town already had a job. After a further fifteen minutes and with some help of the local restaurant owners we finally got a taxi and hopped in. We got about ten minutes down the road before deciding that we were never going to catch up the bus that left over half an hour ago. We thought of just getting the taxi to where the boat went from but were told that it was a dirt road and cars wouldn't get down it. Defeated, we headed back to town to chew it over with the help of a cup of tea.
After two hours of waiting around and watching the little kids in their cute school uniforms heading to school, everything in the town started to open up. Ad headed to the captains café to secure our place for breakfast and I headed to the Patterson Brothers shipping office to work out if we could use our ticket for the following day. In the twenty minutes I waited for the office to open I must have said bula (Fijian for hello) to about a hundred people; I even made friends with one lady, got to know her life story and was invited to her forthcoming wedding, all in the space of ten minutes - the Fijians are a friendly bunch! Eventually the shipping lady turned up and looked at me with an expression that said "what the hell are you doing here - I'm sure I booked you on a bus and boat for today?!" She laughed when I explained we'd missed the bus but added that it was fine and the ticket was valid for two months so we could get the next day's - more proof of the Fijian's laid back attitude.
With our early morning breakfast done we headed to the Savusavu hot springs hotel and negotiated a room for $55 (about £18), a bit more than the budget place but well worth it for a descent nights kip we decided. We spent the rest of the day chilling out and getting ready for the next morning's early start - this time we'll hopefully wake up in time!!