On my first morning in Fiji, I woke up at 6:30am and this set the pattern for the rest of my stay. First things first: explore the surrounding area. The Pearl hotel is situated next to a lazy river at the end of a long-crescent-shaped-coconut-and-palm-tree-fringed-sandy-beach (just like the ones you might have seen postcards of or imagined or dreamed about).
I walked along the beach until I reached a point where I could walk no further because someone had built a huge fence with barbed wire on top of a floodwall bordering a stream! What's this? It's unthinkable that someone could just cut off access to half the beach like that, and yet they have! Having been thwarted in my attempt to walk the full length of the beach, I turned back and went for a swim in the hotel swimming pool and then back to the room for a shower.
Breakfast at The Pearl starts with a greeting from the gorgeous hostess who places a flower behind your ear: a choice of hibiscus, orchid or some other similar tropical delights. According to island traditions, a flower behind the left ear means you're married and, therefore, unavailable. A flower behind the right ear means you're single and looking for a partner!
Then, of course, the feast begins. Well what can I say except that it's a sumptuous buffet of fresh tropical fruit (papaya, passion fruit, pineapple and watermelon) pastries and eggs & bacon.
After breakfast, some lounging by the beach followed by a trip down to the Activities Hut. The Pearl offers some free activities to guests. Today's choice, a cooking demonstration followed by an opportunity to make my own cocktail - woohoo!
EGGPLANT IN COCONUT MILK:
Eggplant strips marinated in salt, pepper and olive oil
Fresh coconut milk made from grated coconut (if you live in a cold country and fresh coconuts are not available, then tinned will do)
Tinned Tuna (shredded)
Red onion (finely chopped)
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Mix everything except the Eggplant. Grill the eggplant over an open fire for a nice smoky flavour. Spoon the coconut mixture in a small bowl and add about 4 of the strips of eggplant in the middle in alternate directions like a tower. Garnish with a bit more coriander and enjoy! It makes a wonderfully refreshing starter.
Followed by a delectable...
Half a fresh papaya - seeds removed and flesh scooped
30ml Triple Sec or Cointreau
Dash of fresh lime
Half a cup of ice
Blend all the above ingredients until ice is crushed. Serve with a garnish: slice of pineapple or lime or sprig of mint - salut!
BTW, the papayas in Fiji are, without a doubt, the best I have ever had in the whole world! Small, supersweet and firm - they are delicious!