Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Now you can read it and see it.

So I added pictures to the last few posts about Fiji.

P.S Im in New York City... wow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hot Hot Hot. Fiji Experience Day 4.

We were finally able to sleep in. No rushing this morning, just a calm sit down for brecky. We drove toward the north of the main island which has a large Indian population – something about Indians coming to work on sugar cane fields during the late 1800s. This had a great influence on our destination for lunch. We drove along the beach and arrived at a beach resort owned by an elder Indian man. We were greeted by the owner and some of the staff with refreshing mandarin juice. We had lunch- a home cooked Indian meal- in what looked like the owners home. The dining room positioned by the living area gave view to portraits of the owner during his young days- he was quiet the handsome man- and wholesome smiles from his family portraits. The meal was by far the best meal I had eaten in Fiji. Absolutely full and nearly falling over from food coma we walked over to the steam/ stone sauna that was just built. The owner of Vatia was really excited for us to check it out. The four of us stripped down to our bathing suits and sat on the bench of the small room- stonewalls decorated with sea shells, the windows shutting the air from entering the room but letting the sunlight in. The young girl who worked at the resort came in with us, a hose in hand. She sprayed the floor below us – the steam quickly rose up as the water splashed on the stones below us. We all hopped up as the steam ran up our backs and surprised us. We stayed as still as possible, listened to the sweat dripping off of us rapidly onto the stones creating more steam. At times it got too hot- to the point where we were hopping up and down nearly shoving each other to run out of the small room toward a quick refreshing shower under a cold hose and back in we went. We could not handle much longer. Stepping outside, the cool breeze was a relief. Compared to the hot and steamy room the weather outside felt cool- um it was about 90 degrees out- just saying. Next on the itinerary was the mud pools and hot springs. We slowly stepped in the muddy water our feet sinking in the soft mud at the bottom of the natural pool. The small green leaves floating in the pool tickled our bodies…. MUD FIGHT ! ahha of course we took it upon ourselves to throw big chunks of gooey mud at each other and decorate each others bodies and faces with mud and leaves. As the mud was drying it began to feel tight on the skin. Before dipping into the hot spring we rinsed off. The hot springs … oh the hot springs. And I thought the steam room was hot enough. I dipped a toe in the hot spring to test the water and I thought, “oh gosh, I will literally bake in there”. But I couldn’t punk out- unlike some people::cough cough- Jon- cough cough :: I creeped in until just my head was out of the water and stood still until I could not take any more. Walking out of the spring was interesting in itself. I got really light headed. But not so much that I couldn’t join in on the silly pictures we took by the spring. To the showers and back on the bus to visit the children of the orphanage. We park beside a house decorated with a front yard, which was decorated with colorful toys a trampoline and swings. We walked in to a warm welcome from the women at the orphanage and smiles from some of the young children sitting on the living room floor. Each one of us dispersed in the home and said “Bula” to all the kids and handed hem our gifts. The eldest at the orphanage was a 17- year old girl who had lived there for the past 3-years. We had a small chat, she took the time to tell me a bit about herself. One of the younger females took it upon her to pull us all together and choose the game we had to play. The FE people looked at each other and laughed at how bossy she was- it was too cute. We played along but soon enough all of our attention went in different directions as a different half pint came and pulled us this way and that. This made me realize how out of shape I am- running around playing freeze tag. When we left we were just as upset as the kids were to say good bye. On the bus once again we were but for the last time. Awwwww. We thanked Raffa and the driver and hopped off at the Nomads resort. The rest of the day at Nomads consisted of dinner, some drinking games- of which everyone thought itd be great to attack me/ aka put Alta to bed and bring out Baja- Lol and some serious bro- ing out.

P.S Random> Fiji was once known for having extreme rates of cannibalism. The man to eat the most people ate a total of 999 in his life time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 3. Fiji Adventures: "Billie" means Push

I wake to the shuffling of backpacks and feet. I look over from the top bunk and realize people were packing. I look at my time- its 730a. “Shit !! “ We were scheduled to leave at 730a, brecky was at 7am. As I hop off and scurry to gather my belongings and make my way to reception I think back to the previous night and blame my late rise to the numerous bowls of Kava that were chased with Rum and Vodka. We sit on the bus and all moan and groan from how tired we were and the throbbing of our heads. We stop for a quick snack- chips for breakfast- not so good. And a quick run to buy toys for the children at the orphanage we were scheduled to visit that afternoon but move to the next day because we were a bit behind schedule. The long drive toward the village required an additional stop for snacks and restrooms. It was clear we were in the “hood”. The streets were filled with locals- stacks of wood that lay in front of shops and grocery stores provided a place for many to sit in the shade and have a chat, children in their school uniforms scurried across the streets barefoot as they struggled to take big steps with the weight of their back packs and lollies in one hand, the market was filled with the sweet smell of fresh fruit, the voices of many saying “Bula” as we passed- we decided to take in the environment and had a seat. With the sun at its hottest- mid day- it was a struggle to stay up for long. We made our way to a village –a bumpy hour and a half ride on roads that were in the process of being reconstructed lead us to a gorgeous village- beautiful gardens reached out into the distance, the small homes with the residents excited to see visitors, screaming “BULA”. We met the village chief. We sat with him and had a proper Kava ceremony. I once again had the honors of being the spokesperson. After each “Taki” we struggled to down the bowls of Kava. After the ceremony I purchased a gift for Erika Brown’s Bday from one of the local women who were selling handicrafts and I joined Raffa and the chief for a chat. They poked fun at me and how I struggled to drink the large bowls of Kava – they decided it would be funny to make me drink more Kava, with a half smile I clapped, said Bula with a quiver in my voice and skulled the full bowl drink. I made sure to thank them- “Vinaka” and make my way out before the chief announced “Taki” again. I made my way towards the village with Jon, Amber and Dave. We took pictures of the beautiful scenery and made friends with children making their way from one home to another. Every direction we looked was worthy of a photo especially the adorable children who successfully got our attention by throwing their toys down the front steps of their home. After the heaps of photos we hopped on the bus for a 2-minute ride towards the nearby stream. Some of the young boys- no more than 11 years old- were there already climbing up to the highest points along the stream and jumping into the stream; a raft made of bamboo and tied together by what I assumed were parts of tree bark. The kids tried to get me to swim but I had to explain to them that I could not swim well. So instead we went to the shallow part of the stream, we reached down by our feet and picked up rocks for skipping. “1, 2, 3 !!! “ I counted off before we tried to skip the pebbles as far as possible. I wasn’t very good but the boy to my right insisted that I ‘won’ the game with a shy smile on his face. I noticed the rest of the group floating away on the bamboo raft so I said good-bye to the young boys and hopped on the raft. I was on it only for a bit before I hopped off and helped the chief and Raffa push it up stream. I felt silly just lying back while they struggled to push 7 tourists. I managed to get a few grunts and forceful pushes in before the chief signaled me to get back on the raft- whatever the chief says, goes. As we made our way down stream Raffa asked if anyone wanted to try and push the raft- standing up on it with a large bamboo stick- steering involved picking up the stick and sticking it into the ground, fighting back the current to push of the raft- psht ! of course I gave it a go. This was not easy. I struggled to just pick the stick up. After falling on the raft Raffa thought it was a good idea to take continue without my help. We made our way down the stream, bumping into the trees as we went along. It was sweet seeing the smile on Raffa’s face as he spoke here and there about how he often went bamboo rafting in his village as a child.
The rain came at perfect timing- right after we got on the bus and drove off to Voli Voli beach resort. A resort on a steep hill that is positioned right on the ocean water. Voli Voli provided a very relaxing environment for us to just sit back, relax, and catch sight of the stars before shut eye.

Kavaholics: Fiji Adventures Pt 2

The morning of Day 2, we had our brecky and headed off for our forest hike by 8am. We made our way to the entrance of the forest on a pick up truck with most of the FE travelers on the back of the pick up truck holding on for dear like as we rocked in all directions on the dirt road. The entire hike took a total of about 4 hours. It rained a few days prior so there was mud everywhere. After a bit of walking I found that it was much easier to walk bare foot- I actually began to enjoy the feeling of the mud under my feet and between my toes. I began to ignore the bugs buzzing by my ears, the sun burning my back, the tree branches smacking and scratching me against the legs arms and face and the sweat soaking my clothes. I casually walked through the knee-deep mud, streams, and swamps. At one point Jon went shoulder deep into a swamp. The long trek lead to a gorgeous waterfall. Even the Fijian tour guides took this as an opportunity to cool off. With ease they made their way up the cliff, tree branch, or swing and dived into the deep water. I am a bad swimmer so I did a good share of watching. However one of the guides convinced me to jump into the deep waters from a mini cliff. Amber promised to catch me and guide me back to safety which she did- thanks Amber ! We attempted to dry off by leaving our bathing suits on as we made our way for the boat ride down the stream. The boat rocked back and forth and I was convinced it was going to cap size. We relaxed and ate a coconut and sugar cane that was just cut during our walk as we tried our best to take in the entire scenery.

Once at the bus we made our way to Uprising Resort- again an amazing place. Amber and I sat in on a coconut demonstration where two ladies talked about all the ways in which coconut trees can be useful- they dressed Amber and I in skirts and accessories- King and Queen- made from various parts of a coconut tree. Here I had a nice chat with the ladies and mentioned that I had not yet tried Kava- a local drink made from a root that “dopes” those who drink it. She was surprised to hear I had not tried it yet and promised to organize a mock ceremony so we could try it. After dinner we gathered cross-legged around a giant Kava bowl, which faced the chief – Dave was the chief for the night, I was the spokes person so my duty was to shout “TAKI” when it was time to drink. The spokesperson announces Taki and the chief takes the first drink. Clap once, say BULA, then drink; everyone else claps three times. Apparently if you have enough bowls of Kava it may lead to hallucinations. We did not drink that much but I am sure we were close to it. Our tongues went numb but we continued to roar with laughter after one would make a funny face while drinking a tsunami size drink (full coconut bowl). Kava does not taste good. Its not too bad… at least that is what I think. It got easier to consume after a few bowls… but that may also be due to the rum we were chasing the Kava with - probably not a good idea. After our Kava ceremony the Fiji experience people sat and played card games for a bit. Few cards, few drinks, few laughs. After a few games by the bon fire I wondered off and sat with a group of locals having their own party. One woman insisted I sit and chat and shoved a drink in my direction- “Drink!! Fiji Rum”. The company- lovely; the drink- not so much. I smiled and shouted, “I love Fiji” as the rum made its way down my throat leaving a burning sensation behind. I was soon reunited with the rest of the FE people and we eventually stumbled our way to our dorm. I fell asleep as soon as I closed my eyes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bula Bula Bula !!! Fiji Adventure Pt 1.

Amber, Jon and I arrived on Wednesday 7am at the Nadi airport where we were greeted by four Fijian men playing ukuleles and nodding their heads as they smiled and said “Bula”. The Feejee experience bus picked us up at 8am- so no sleep for about an entire day and then we are off right away to start our adventures in Fiji. Before starting the activities scheduled for the day we made a stop at a local super market to pick up- of course, water and lots of it; we also stopped by a souvenir shop- Jon was stoked especially when coming across the war clubs- he had to get one. But as we were making our way there I realized how refreshing it was to actually be somewhere foreign. Australia is amazing but it does not feel foreign. Its nice to actually see something different, a unique culture. We first made our way to a beach where I once again took my chances at swimming.

We also met Dave from England (majored in Physics – Let’s go science) He’s awesome- We are now a pack of 4 rather than three. The next bit- the village visit, I absolutely loved. This village consists of an open field sparsely covered with small shacks. As we walked through the village we could easily glance into the homes of the Fijian families- the children often sitting on the front steps screaming BULA! Their heads peering through the old bed sheets that are used as curtains. Once we had walked far enough the children would run out to the dirt roads covering their mouths with one hand to stop their uncontrollable giggling. Here we learned how most villages are structured and a little about the Kava ceremonies.

After we said our goodbyes and waved back at the villagers as we drove away we stopped at the nearby sand dunes. The dunes were much more intense then I had imagined. Before making it down on a boogie board we had to make it up to the top of the sand dune. This required trekking up the side of the sand hill. The sun had already done its work- with one hand holding a boogie board, sweat dripping down our faces, backs, and chest, we fought the burning sensation of our feet on the burning hot sand. The view from all directions is breath taking. On one end a sea of hills and rooftops of numerous villages was visible and across that was the still water of the ocean, its blue horizon complementing the clear blue sky. A quick briefing abd push from our tour guide, Raffa, lead to a full speed slide down the hill- so fast, the momentum pushed me off my board and I went rolling a few feet away from where I landed. Of course one surf was not enough. This marked the end of our days activities sitting in our own filth- sweat, bug spray, sun screen, and sand- our hearts still racing from excitement we cooled off with the air conditioning on the bus as we sat patiently waiting for our arrival at the Mango Bay Resort.

When I booked this trip I imagined we would be staying at hostels- large dorm rooms with sketch looking bathrooms, and messy kitchens-(but we were staying at proper resorts) when walking to my room at the MBR I was surprised and pleased with the beauty of the place. The MBR has well kept greenery walking from my room to the restaurant (which overlooked the beach) felt as if I were walking through the botanical gardens. There is not much that can beat a delicious seafood dinner while over looking the waves of the ocean and listening to a Fiji performer play the guitar and sing great tunes. By this time I was over whelmed and tired but refused to go to bed so I asked the group to join me on a walk on the beach. The beach was nearly pitch black dark; as we walked we noticed the flashing of a light coming from the hands of a Fijian boy who was crabbing with his family. The family of five were casually walking along the beach with a sack, flash lights, and a stick for catching what was to be their dinner. They invited us to join. I volunteered to catch the next one- I reached over towards the rock wall where a large sized crab was trying to avoid being caught; grabbed it by its sides and dumped him in the sack. Dave also gave it a go but nearly lost his crab.

We had arrived back at the restaurant on time for a performance by some of the locals. Their big smiles, twists and turns, and shouts filled the crowd with energy. And then they pulled out the swords and fire dancing- Partay Win. After a few dances and a few laughs we made our way to get get some shut eye before our 7am departure for Day 2.