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.