16th Jan 2012 - 22nd Feb 2012
Apologies for the slow updating folks, poor connection in New Zealand campsites – not complaining really as they’re remote and lovely!
Next on our world tour was the wonderful land of Fiji. First however we had to make three connections to take us from Rio to Nadi via Lima, El Salvador and Los Angeles. We had the usual shenanigans on the way to airport in Rio. Our pre-booked taxi didn’t show up so we were late and then they dropped us off at the wrong terminal, Brazil has possibly the worst transportation we experienced in South America. Luckily we did have overnighter in L.A. where we checked ourselves into the cheapest and nearest hotel to the airport, the Travelodge Airport branch. I can highly recommend it for kitsch motel charm, a bit like a Quentin Tarantino set, and for having a 24 hour on site Denny’s (we took a photo just for you Denny!). It was back to airport in the morning for our trip to Fiji. Fiji is about as laid back as you can get without actually falling over. Our transfer didn’t show up but it wasn’t much hassle to take a taxi instead – we soon learned that the island runs on ‘Fiji time’ which the locals will merrily chant at you should you grumble about anything being late or not showing up. It’s said with such a cheery grin it’s hard to be angry with them, especially when it’s an extremely camp man wearing a traditional skirt with a flower behind his ear. Our frowns disappeared when we saw our ‘bure’, never has a kettle and a selection of tea and coffee seemed such a luxury! Each bure or bungalow had enormous windows facing out on the garden. When they were having some troubles with the water supply later this was upgraded to a private villa followed by a beachfront view!
The villa came with washing machine and tumble dryer, fully stocked kitchen and private pool and we spent a happy day doing laundry and lounging by the pool listening to our private soundsystem. The private pool did allow for some shenanigans – practising our Dirty Dancing lake lift, see photo! We also decided to take advantage of the cooking facilities and so took a taxi into nearby Lautoka to the market, which was amazing. Our driver came in to haggle for us at the fish market but he was a little too successful as he managed to secure us four red snappers for 15 Fijian dollars, which is about £5! Instead we opted for vegetable curry and took advantage of the very cheap vegetables and spices sold by the pile by the Fijian Indians. We didn’t realise in advance what a large Indian population there is in Fiji, which is mainly the result of the British (yes, us again, sorry) bringing them over to work in the colonies as cheap labour. It’s created quite a unique mix of cultures with original Fijian population. I also wasn’t aware that the country was under the control of the military since they had some troubles in the recent past, it’s amazing the things you can learn in the back of taxi.
Most of our time at the resort was spent lazing by the pool in the morning sun and then relaxing in the bure or getting a massage in the afternoon to avoid the huge thunderstorms. On one day we did venture out to the island group called Mamanuca nearby off the mainland for a day of drinking, eating and snorkelling. The snorkelling was amazing with excellent marine life and coral, the fish were so vibrant and practically fluorescent. The food and drink was also plentiful but my ongoing bad luck with my stomach meant I had caught some kind of virus that meant I spent half the day in the bottom of the boat feeling very, very ill. B tried to make up for my lack of interest in the all inclusive booze but only managed 5 beers as he had to come and wipe down my sweaty brow every five minutes. On the up side we did get to try the traditional Kava, a local type of grog that is used by the Fijians in their welcoming ceremonies. According to B it makes you mouth go numb almost instantly. He did very well with the clapping and exclamations of ‘vinaka’ (like ‘vinegar’) that you have to make to the chiefs who hand you the drink. The image of them in the grass skirts was only slightly diminished by later seeing them come and sit in the sun in the Ralph Lauren polo shirts.
The food in Fiji is lovely, we had some excellent sea food mainly done in coconut milk which is always a big hit with me and for our last night we splashed out had one of the specials, coconut battered shrimps with local greens, and chips because I couldn’t help myself.
Fiji was beautiful, very relaxing and lovely but we were glad we left when we did. The morning we left for the airport there had been torrential rain all night and it was only when we landed in New Zealand that we heard that several people had died in the floods after we left. We felt very lucky to have left before they closed the airport and people started having to be rescued!
We went from success to success arriving in a clean, sweet-aired New Zealand with high hopes for beautiful countryside and plenty of wine, sweet as.