So, from Fiji! Finally I have found a spot where I am not too busy doing incredible stuff and where there are no hammocks to sleep in which means I have time to write again! I finished both the books I had and have started on the NZ lonely planet by lack of other literature, haha. I eat whatever the Fijians throw at me which is mainly chicken and chicken and chicken and chicken, and I sleep in hammocks all day long and in my sleeping sheet in not so crowded dorms at night. It's an easy life, I must say. I have done lots of cool exciting stuff too though.. :)
When I arrived in Fiji, as you know, it was pouring with rain. By the lack of following posts you probably concluded that the rain stopped quite soon. The day I sailed out to my first faraway island was terrible though. Absolutely horrible. Torrential rain and hard winds, so hard that the lady at the port called after me, "miss, the seas are rough today. Just so you know" and she didn't say it to anyone else (my stop was the last on the line so I had to go further than anyone: 4.5 hours in calm weather so today... 6 hours). So my heart sank to my flipflops because I'm usually ok on water but if she's warning me then it must be pretty bad. And it was really really bad. I sat with my newfound friends Alice and Patricia but Alice got off after an hour (lucky her). Then Patricia started feeling ill because the boat was churning up to the crests of waves and hurtling back down them the other side and sometimes not hurtling down them but smacking onto the next wave with full break-your-tailbone-force. Patricia grabbed a sickbag that the crew were very casually and happily handing out left and right and ran up to the deck to join the party of vomiters up there. I was actually feeling fine. I was reading my book with my feet off the floor and was breathing with the movement of the boat; in when it went up and out hard when it went down, and that seemed to take away most of the rocky feeling. When Patricia had left the boat looking green, I was still fine. After about 4.5 hours the sea became considerably rougher though and my concentration on my book and breathing no longer held off the nauseating wave riding of the boat. I was adamant that I would not be sick. There was no way I was going to throw up, I hate throwing up. I was not up for that. So I scrambled up to the open deck, crawled into a corner seat, put my bag on my lap, draped my arms around it, dropped my head onto my arms and convinced myself I was asleep by relaxing all my muscles and letting the boat throw me around however it wanted to. I did, thankfully doze off when I noticed how just freely moving with the boat made me sleepy and less nauseous. When we finally reached my stop it was 14.30 and I had last eaten at 6.45 so I was starving but in no means capable of eating on the boat. A small speedboat picked us up from the big boat and took us to Nabua Lodge. The scenery was beautiful. Even though it was still drizzling and cloudy I could finally stand to look outside properly and wow. The islands are so gorgeous. There are stunning shades of green trees and grass and grey rock surrounded by water in all the shades of blue you can imagine and more. Deep indigo and navy blue and turquoise so bright you could never find paint to match it and light blue and sky blue, everything. It was amazing. When we got to the lodge there were some Fijians playing the guitar and singing as we arrived and we were ushered inside by super friendly women and given a meal which was amazing. I was so hungry I could have eaten a horse. After that we were welcomed again (bula! bula!) and assigned rooms. I was in a 10-bed dorm which was basically a little red house with a straw roof and wooden beds with mosquito nets round them. Three of the people joining me were Tara(24) from Melbourne, Marie(59) from Canada and David(23) from Germany. Tara, David and I got talking and because it was raining we talked for hours and hours. That evening we had a traditional Fijian dinner cooked outside in a hole in the ground: chicken (they told us it was seagull but admitted it was chicken the day after xD) wrapped in palm leaves was fished from the coals in the pit and a huge fish caught that day was pulled out of there too. They eat a lot of sweet potato (that's what they said it was) which is hard and not incredibly easy to eat dry but I just chewed and swallowed until it was gone :) After dinner, all of us newcomers had to get up and announce our names, nationalities and whether we were alcoholics or not xD At our table most were alcoholics hahaha so we became the party table. Then a group of older men performed some Fijian songs and we were told to stand outside in the drizzle and were taught the "Sunshine Bula Dance" which we performed over and over again, all the while giggling like crazy at the strange situation we were all in. Some of the couples looked a bit annoyed at the whole thing but David and I found it hilarious and had good fun imitating the Fijians :p Then we had to play a pairing up game and a jump-over-a-rope game(no, not skipping) and a pass-round-a-stick game.. Tara and I won the pass-the-stick-around-game as we kind of turned it into a game of fetch in the last round so picking a winner was difficult so the Fijian leader decided that we both won. Rum&coke Fiji style(i.e. premixed and not very cold) was the prize. Yay. It was cool :) Then we all sat in a circle on the veranda and talked until David, two Frenchies and me were the only ones left and then we went to bed. The next morning we noticed that the dance had worked and the sky was blue with a burning hot sun! Most of the group went snorkelling but I wanted a lazy morning so went to sleep in a hammock, annoyed at the 20 odd mozzie bites covering my legs and a few on my arms. Argh. I hate mosquitoes. A slightly creepy Italian guy came to talk to me for a while which was ok until he attempted to convince me to come and learn yoga in a desolate hut on a Fijian island xD I sorted it out quite subtly by saying I was going to see my fiancee in NZ (the ring I got from my grandma for my 18th birthday came in handy and credit to my mum, she was right, it's a brilliant excuse hahahaha) and right at that moment David came to get me for lunch which was useful too, haha. He's a nice German xD After lunch Marie, the French girl Caroline, David and I went for a walk to the other side of the island. The island is stunning. Palm trees and green green grass and white sand and turquoise water, oooh. Lovely. We hiked across the island through the village to another resort on the other side, dumped our stuff and went for a swim. The water is so warm here. It's like a bath, I'm serious, I have never felt such a warm ocean before. When we headed back we picked up a cake for Caroline's best friend's birthday from a little shack selling just one type of cake a day for about a euro per big slice. That evening was much the same as the one before but now we had to sing our national anthems instead of dance. There was no way I was going to sing the Dutch anthem alone in front of a crowd but Marie and David were the only Canadian/German people so we all got up and completely inharmoniously sang the three anthems simultaneously. It was hilarious and after about 4 lines we all cracked up laughing and let the Frenchies sing theirs (they got to 6 lines before laughing took over). None of the 5 English people knew the national anthem which we all found quite atrocious really, I know a bit of it, they had not a clue so sang the only line they knew "God save our Queen". It's "God save our gracious queen, long live our noble queen, god save the queen. Da da da glorious, hmmmm and victorious, naaaa na na na na na na naaaaaa, gohod saaaave oooour queeeeeeen." Right? Roughly? I know the Dutch one. But yeah, then we chilled again for hours, now covered from head to toe in foul smelling mozzie repelling stuff(it did help). At about one, the Frenchies, David and I went down to the beach and wandered out to a sandbank, it was low tide… and stood in the moonlight for a while. Then we dragged some deckchairs into the moonlight and sat trying to come up with a good Fiji Moonlight song, but we failed.. The next morning we covered ourselves in suntan cream and hopped on the boat to go to some caves. The boat took longer than expected so even though the islands we passed with their pristine beaches were amazing, I could feel my legs burning so plastered on some more cream. Still. I was worried. At the caves we ducked under some rocks and clambered down some steps and there was a big high cave filled with water with sunlight pouring in from above. We all dived in and swam around marveling at the beauty of this watery cavern. At the side of the cave was a guy with goggles and we realised that that was the entrance to the second cave. To get to it we had to swim about 3 or 4 metres under water, under the cave wall. I borrowed some snorkelling goggles and after the rest had gone before me went up to the diver for my turn. He told me that he would swim behind me so that I wouldn't come up too early and whack the rock above me with my head. Ehh. Ok. So I took some deep breaths, a bit scared by this point, dived down and forwards. I could see where I was going and the path was wide enough to kick out properly and I could feel the hand of the diver on the back of my neck so I just swam forwards and at some point he let me up. It was easy. I high-fived the rest of the gang (the Frenchies, David and a cool girl from Leeds called Sydney) and let my eyes adjust to the dark. The cave was pitch black. We swam around and found some tunnels. A guy with a torch led us around a bit through the tunnels and had us yelling BULA so that it echoed off all the walls. We took some pictures with the Frenchies' underwater camera and then made our way back into the light. Someone had borrowed my goggles though so I had to swim back with my eyes shut. The diver guy said it would be fine so I did it but bashed my arm on a rock, which means there is now a big browny yellow bruise and a long gash. It's healed ok though. Just the bruise is hideous. On the way back to the lodge I put on more cream on my legs and shoulders and others did so too but we could feel ourselves burning alive. It was midday. Back at the lodge I had a cold shower (all showers are cold here) and then slept in a hammock until my boat came. Saying goodbye to David was annoying because we had become good friends, if that's possible after 2 days, and I did miss his funny presence in the next lodge but ah well, meeting cool people and seeing them go is part of the job I suppose. Although facebook is a nice stay in contact option.
The next place was called Korovou and they had amazing food but other than that it was a bit dull. I chatted to a geeky Californian guy all evening but went to bed earlyish. The next day my legs and shoulders were killing me so I put on a t-shirt, wrapped a shawl round my legs and slept in a hammock in the shade until my boat came.
The next place was Waya Lailai, which was by far the prettiest island. The dorm was just like the other dorms but the scenery was stunning. There was a high rock that towered above the resort and all the little houses were cute with thatched roofs and grass everywhere. Dinner was a bit strange. In Korovou we had had really good food so was a bit disappointed by the strange flavours in Waya Lailai but the scenery totally made up for it. A group of guys in grass skirts, the so-called Bula-Boys, turned up and did some traditional dancing for us. Then we had to join in again and do the Bula-dance. We had to do a conga too and some other funny dances and then sat down and chilled. I was with Tara again because she just happened to be there at the same time as me, so we talked all evening. The next day I went reef snorkelling. I hadn't done any snorkelling up to then so was a bit apprehensive but a German couple and Italian guy reassured me that it was easy and explained the basics. We picked up a Fijian guy on the way and made our way out to the middle of the sea. There the Fijian guy jumped into the sea and our boat went on for another 5 minutes, us all looking a bit puzzled about leaving the guy alone in the ocean. It was quite choppy so I had a bit of a hard time in the beginning, getting my breathing right but as soon as I got the hang of it I studied the reef and noticed it was beautiful. All the coral and fish and.... sharks(!!!) swimming around, were stunning! The sharks are reef sharks, vegetarians so no danger to us, and there were about 8 of them swimming around. They're not very big but big enough to be scary so when our guide grabbed one and let people stroke it, I hung back with most of the group. I swam around, saw a lobster hiding in the coral, followed a school of zebra-fish and watched the sharks. After an hour I was glad to spit out the salty water though and clamber back into the boat. I had forgotten about the guy we had left behind in the ocean and we circled the reef until we found him. He clambered into the boat dragging a rope with 20 fish on it! He had speared them. I kid you not. He had speared 20 fish in an hour. It was unbelievable. We went back to Waya Lailai and I was happy to notice that Sydney had arrived! She was the girl from Leeds I went to the caves with. I hung out with her all evening with a German guy called Marvin, a Dutch guy called David (yep, another David xD) and a Swiss guy whose name neither of us could remember. First, after dinner there was a Kava ceremony. This entailed us all sitting on a straw mat, listening to some village elders praying in Fijian and then clapping once, accepting a bowl of kava, saying bula and downing the kava. Kava is a drink made entirely of plants, no alcohol or anything, and is drank by everyone in Fiji. It is used as an anti-depressant and has been said to be hallucinogenic but to me it just tasted like muddy water with sand at the bottom. No weird stuff at all. Just mud. Ugh. It was horrible. Everyone quickly went and grabbed their bottles of Fijian water to wash away the sandy taste. Then we listened to the villagers making music, singing and dancing, joined in when requested to and then settled down to chat until the moon had fully risen above the horizon. Moon rises here are just as spectacular as sunrises (well, almost). The moon starts huge and orange on the horizon and then shrinks as it rises and turns yellow and then white. It's pretty cool. Anyway, the next day I spent in the hammock again with Sydney swaying in the next hammock. We swam a bit and basically just chilled out.
Then I came to Beachcomber island which is a tiny mound of sand with some palm trees in the middle and a huge 120 bed dorm and a bar. I was watching the band playing yesterday evening when a Norwegian girl came over and asked if I wanted to join the group she was with so I did very gratefully and found out that it was a wild mixture of people. A Dutch/Brazilian guy, some Aussies from Alice Springs, A British guy, the Norwegian girl and a Danish guy. A cool group. We partied all night which was fun. :) Nice to have some friends. They all left this morning though so am a bit lonely now.. Everyone seems to be grouped up, plus I'm not really in the mood for the whole "Hi, I'm Yosiane. Dutch. Going to study in Sydney. Psychology, Linguistics and Neuroscience. From California and heading for New Zealand. Three weeks. Then to Sydney, yeah. Staying with friends. And you?" conversations that you get. I'm leaving in 4 hours anyway. And I quite like the peace and quiet of this empty corner of the dorm. Anyway. I might swim round the island later but maybe not. We'll see. Lazy day.
Anyway. Fiji is stunning. Seeing all the tiny islands everywhere and the rocky structures and green grass and trees and the coconuts and beaches and blue water and the fish and coral and hammocks, oooooh it's amazing. Unlike anywhere I've ever been (well, not that I've been to many places but you get my point). And the people are so nice and happy! They sing whenever a boat with people arrives or leaves, they laugh and joke and play volleyball all the time. They throw each other in the water and push each other off boats and dance wildly to their own music. They're great! Not a care in the world! It's so cool! I definitely recommend it if you want a beachy but stunning place to go!
I am now going to go and try to check in my NZ flight and stuff.