Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bula Vinaka

So sad that it is our last day in Fiji. At least we have a full day and do not leave the hotel until 4PM. After another delicious breakfast we go back to the hotel. I do one last snorkel in the ocean and then get packed. Kerry & I take the shuttle into town and visit the Arts Village for a little local shopping and to see the Cultural Center. We spent more time in the post office buying postcard stamps than anywhere. (And we noticed that we were the only people inside that were wearing shoes!).

As we depart the hotel, the entire housekeeping staff and some other employees as well send us off with a song! It was incredible. And Sue, our house attendant, was actually crying. She is really going to miss Cole & Tommy!


We transfer with Ian, the same driver who brought us to Taunovo Bay early this week. This time the drive is during daylight though which is so much more enjoyable. We passed the turnoff for our rafting trip, drove by the warehouse for Pacific Green (where all the furniture is made out of coconut palm trees), pass through several villages, follow behind a open ended truck full of people that almost fell out going over a bump... and then laughed and waved goodbye to us when they turned off, followed a truck carrying sugar cane as well as one full of huge mahogany.

At a little after 6PM we arrive at the airport. We check in and go for dinner. There really is nothing at the Nadi airport. No good restaurants and we all felt a little sick after our meal. We wait for our flight with Heidi & Greg who are back with us after a full week at Lomani. We exchange stories realizing how much time seems to have passed since we separated last Sunday.

A few Fijian words I have learned:
Bula - Hello (but really it is used for everything)
Bula Vinaka - more formal Hello
Vinaka Vakelevu - Thank you very much
Au katakata - I am hot
Savu - Waterfall
Uca - Rain
Seganaleqa - No worries
Moce (pronounced "mothe")- Goodbye
# 1 - one - dua
# 2 - two - rua
# 3 - three - tolu
# 4 - four - va
# 5 - five - lima
# 6 - six - ono
# 7 - seven - vitu
# 8 - eight - walu
# 9 - nine - ciwa
# 10 - ten - tina

And a few other words I will refrain from typing :)

BULA VINAKA FIJI!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Gods Must Be Crazy


Today was the day we went White Water Rafting. Kevin stayed at the hotel to watch the boys. Kerry and I left at 6:30AM for our full day excursion. It turned out to be both the best and most crazy day of all! We were picked up at our hotel and met the rafting company at a nearby hotel. It was about a 2 hour transfer to the river, mostly traveling through winding roads high into the mountain. Our guide was Moses Batirua - he is from the village near the Upper Navua River and has been with them since they started 10 years ago. The company (Rivers Fiji) was started by an American. He came to Fiji in search of a place to start the company. When he found it he asked the government for permission to raft. The government said he needed to ask the village. So he went to the chief and presented kava. When he explained what he wanted to do and the entire village called a meeting. Everyone attended (all 450 people). They agreed and he picked some of the locals to be rafting guides. At first Moses tells us they asked his older brother but he said no. Moses turned it down at first too, but eventually agreed. He is an excellent rafting guide, but an even better storyteller. I learned more about Fiji in the one day from him than in the 10 days I had been in the country. There are 40 different villages on the Island of Fiji and each varies drastically in terms of what they eat, their customs and even their dialects. His village eats wild boar, mongoose and fruit bats. I will never forget his story about how they catch the fruit bats. Or catch wild boar... he said you bring 9 dogs with you and you may come back with only 3.

(Thanks Moo for the picture of a fruit bat!)

Anyway, while listening to his stories, we are actually rafting through the caverns of the Upper Navua River, known as the "Grand Canyon of Fiji" . This river splits the mountains of Viti Levu and the tops of the caverns are over 100 feet above us. The river is surrounded by rainforest and we passed more waterfalls than I could count. (One guide said there were 70 but I think that may even be a low estimate!). Some of the waterfalls had names - with stories of course! - like "Two Women Push Each Other Waterfall" and "Free Massage Waterfall".



After rafting for an hour (maybe 2? in Fiji there is just no concept of time) we come to a calm narrow spot between the caverns. We all jump out of the rafts and "swim". The current is so strong that all you do is put your feet up and you are carried downstream. The water is warm but feels refreshing in the hot sun. The caverns are so high you can't see the top. Eventually we have lunch and then get back into our boats to continue. In total our rafting trip is 24 kilometers. Just as we are heading out the skies turn dark. Before long it is raining, light at first but getting heavier. There is thunder and lightning almost simultaneous. As we are paddling we realize that there is nowhere to go but forward. The bamboo trees are sideways and some of the branches are cracking (loudly!) and falling into the river. The wind picked up and it was howling. The rain was so heavy you couldn't really see anything in front of you so we just listened to the guide and paddled. I kept thinking it was a passing storm and that it would end as quickly as it started. And then it started to HAIL! Lots of hail and they were big -- some were ping pong ball sized! We couldn't believe it and said to Moses, "It's hailing!" and he says, "NO- ITS ICE!" He honestly didn't even know the word HAIL since he had never seen it before. The hail is hitting us as we are paddling and it hurts (I have bruises on my legs to prove it) but there was nowhere to go so we just paddled as fast as we could to get through it. As we passed the other rafts in our group, we all just said the same thing - "This is crazy!". Eventually the hail stopped and the rain let up a little. We finished rafting and got to the end of the trip. As we were changing and packing up the sun came back out and it was like the storm never happened!


Kerry & I with our guide - MOSES

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Seganaleqa

"NO WORRIES" this is kind of the motto of Fiji. And today we are experiencing it. We are making full use of the villa. We get up early, go to breakfast overlooking the ocean. The food is fantastic. So far I've had banana pancakes and waffles with Fijian fruit. After breakfast the boys take a 2 hour nap and we just hang by the pool. Sunbathing, reading, and some snorkeling in the ocean. This afternoon Kerry & I went for Fijian massages. We are eating fish at least two meals a day and completely relaxed.
Seganaleqa!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Taunovo Bay





Photos of pool & beach at our villa.

Taunovo Bay Resort & Spa is a boutique 5 star property. We were upgraded from what was already an incredible beachfront suite to an entire beachfront villa. We had a luxurious home with our own private pool and private beach. There was a chef's kitchen, huge dining room table for 8, living room, upstairs balcony and bedroom, and a separate master bedroom unit. Each day we had a full time house attendant to assist us. She also loved the boys and played with them any chance she had.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pacific Harbour, Fiji Islands

This morning we woke to rain! The weather has been so amazing we were all a little surprised. We went to breakfast with our raingear but it cleared up by the time we were finished. It was our last morning on Plantation Island so we spent it relaxing by the beach and snorkeling right in our beach. We took the 3:30 ferry (well maybe 3:45... it's Fiji and they say everything is on "Fijian Time"). We arrive back to the Denarau Port for our transfer, which is delayed so we wait at the Hard Rock. They boys had chicken fingers and we had a beer. Eventually we depart for our 2 1/2 hour transfer to the other side of the island. The Pacific Harbour is the "adventure capital of Fiji". It is 2+ hours from Nadi, and about 30 minutes from Suva. There is lush rainforest here, excellent diving opportunities, incredible snorkeling, rafting & kayaking, shark feeding (yikes!), so much more. It's also home to the most amazing sunsets & beaches. We arrived at close to 9PM - got settled in and straight to bed.