Fiji - A paradise on Earth!

Taveuni Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 20 › view all entries
That's the way the Fiji-ans say 'hello'. Bula literally means "life". So when Fiji-ans say hello they actually wish you 'life'. So therefore, dear reader, I wish you 'life'.
Our flight from L.A. to Fiji couldn't be better. We left at 9.30 pm L.A. time and arrived in Fiji at 5:30 AM Fiji time. Almost no jet-lag, brilliant!
The term "fiji-time" shouldn't be taken lightly. In Fiji, things don't happen in the same rate as in the Western countries we are used to. No sir! In Fiji, things happend a little bit slower - a little bit more relaxed. A common Fiji-an saying is "Today is for today and tomorrow is for tomorrow". The Fiji-jans life from day to day. They don't plan and why should they? If they stretch out their arm they have enough food to feed their family. They don't have a winter where they need to prepare for or real bad weather in general (a part from the odd hurricane of course). The island we were on (Taveuni), they locals lived in sheds with open windows (without glass) and still cook their food on wood they gather from the forest. They don't really care about esthetics, but think it is really important to enjoy life! And this is what they do! Our hosts, Jim and Robbin Kelly, told us that most of the men on the island never had a 9 to 5 job. They just have a small farm that they visit once a week to gather enough food to feed their family. To compliment that diet, they sometimes head out to catch some tuna or other fish. They might even catch they odd fruit bat to mix things up a bit. The average life expectancy on this island is about 50 years old. People told us that when you are that old, you are considered - and I quote - "old old old old old". Their lifes might be shorter, but the actual time they enjoy life is a lot longer. They won't spend a minute withing depressing walls of a cubicle or find themselves caught in a traffic jam. Who is right? I am inclined to say that they life their life one should. Just relax, kick back, drink some kava and spend time with your friends and family - no worries!

Fiji has an interesting history. There were many wars between the different tribes that lived on the seperate islands of which the country consists. To warn for invasions, guards would knock hollow-like trees with rocks to notify their tribesmen. I tried it and it really works! That low thumping sounds carries for miles!
The first two white missionaries that came to Fiji ended up as the main course for the village. The Fiji-ans just couldn't pass up on such white and succulent meat. However, the only cannibalism you find these days in Fiji is in the roman catholic church when they gorge on the body of Christ.
They are not particurlarly ashamed for they historically taste for human flesh. There is a restaurant just down the road of the resort that we stayed with a sign hanging in the back stating "we'd love to serve you as dinner". For some reason I don't think they're lying!

When the neighbouring island of Tonga was about to invade Fiji, they turned to the Americans for help. They courteously declined. In their despiration, they invited the Brits to protect them. They Brits, being as friendly as they are, went over there and successfully fended of the Tonga-ans. Because the Brits were invited, they thought it was probably not chivalrous to enslave the local population. Or maybe they soon noticed that the blissfull laziness of the locals wouldn't get much work done no matter how hard you crack the whip. For whatever reason, they took with them their own slaves - the Indians. According to our Fiji-an driver Sepo, the Indians breed like rabbits and already cover 50% of the population. For some reason, the Fiji-ans and the Indians don't really get along very well. The Indians are treated as second class citizens. This got out of control to such an extend that the current dictator commited a coupe in 2006. The Fiji-ans think this is terribe (according to Sepo). You are no longer free to express your opinion. Critical journalists have been locked away and what more. However, our hosts think it is an improvement. Corruption has been decreasing and there is more focus on making life easy for investors and the tourism industry. The reason for the coupe was to equalize the rights between Indians and Fiji-ans. The reasons why there two ethnic groups can't getting along, according to Sepo, is of course not the fault of the Fiji-ans. He ensured us that they welcomed the Indians in their mids. No, according to him, it is because the Indians won't share. What he probably means is that the Indians don't share the same life philosophy as 'they' do. Indians work themselves to the bone and have acquired or started most of the businesses on Fiji and own most of the money. The Indians probably don't want to share their hard earned currency with the - in their eyes - lazy Fiji-ans. So in the end, it is all about money. It must be said though, that is it really hard for a Fiji-an to start a business. By culture, they are very community driven. We would consider it almost communistic. They see 'ownership' as something completely different. Robbin, told us that if you have 9 knives in your kitchen, you shouldn't be surprised if one of your employees takes one of 'm. "Who needs 9 knives?" They think! To own a business in Fiji, Robin ensured us, you must be prepared to fire a lot of people! They just take stuff and don't consider it stealing. Anyway, when Fiji-ans start a business, it kind of happens the same way. All their family members and village members show up and ask them for stuff and tell them "well I don't have a lot of money". And before they know it, they are out of business. Indians are not as community orientated. And it is in my opinion that this difference in life-style, creates the current ethnic frictions in Fiji. It is quite interesting to see that every country has their own ethnic conflicts. In Holland we have our own problems with people from arabic descent, in the USA there are currently a lot of 'problems' with people from Latin-America. Maybe it is just human nature to exclude "other-thinking" people from their own community. It made me realize how stupid our own little ethnic problems. It is all about not knowing, understanding and respecting differences in culture and life-style. But the sad thing is that probably our own human nature will prevent us from solving these differences.

I of course also have to tell you about your dive adventures on Fiji. Truly amazing!
Tamara and I both got our Open Water Certificate on Fiji. Our dive-masters, Julie and Aaron were the best! It took a little bit of getting use to this strange environment and completely trusting your life on the equipment, but once you are in the right mindset, it is fantastic!
The reef that we dove in is called the "rainbow reef" and is considered as one of the best dive sites in the world. Our dive-masters offered their apologies because it could only get worse after this. So far, we can only second that...
Anyway, the underwater world their is like being in the movie "Finding Nemo". You see exactly the same colours, the same fish and also in the same abbundance. There are fish and life EVERYWHERE! And they are just acting as if you aren't there. They are defending their territory against other fish. We saw Barracuda praying on a school of fish. We saw a white-tip reef shark swimming past. We saw spawning coral, which is a once in a life-time experience (according to our dive-master Julie). The underwater world is really spectatulair. If you are a diver, or if you want to go diving - GO TO FIJI! There is nothing like it! And if you go, please notify me, I might join you, because I really want to go back!

Fiji is really fantastic! I have never been to a place quite like it! Everywhere - there is life! If you lift a rock - there is life! If you split a tree - there is life! We did the so called "Lavena Coastal Walk". Which is the location where they filmed "blue lagoon 2". THat was walking through a wel-kept garden. With mother Earth being the carefull gardener. Every little stream you jumped over, you could see fresh water prawns hurrying for cover. On the beach, you could see little sea-shells being carried around by little hermit crabs. We swam up a river in between the biggest trouts you ever saw, only to end up in a little lagoon where to waterfalls decided to meet up.

Our driver Sepo told us a hart-breaking story about his dog that always slept under his car. One morning he had to leave in a hurry to take some resort guests to the Lavena Coastal Walk. When he got home in the evening, his kids wouldn't take to them and his daughter was even crying. He asked "what is wrong?" His daughter said, you killed our dog, as she pointed to a freshly ploughed patch in the garden. He had to cry, he told us. "And it was the second time I killed a dog like that!". Fiji-ans have a different opinion about pets. You see a lot of very mal nuriged stray dogs walking around. The Fiji-ans just don't care! That's why the owners of the resort we stayed in adopted four of those dogs. One of those dogs is really the fatest dog you've ever seen! They feed them well here!!

I can't stop talking about Fiji! Ask me me more when I get back! Or even better, already book your ticket as soon as you have money and time! It is paradise on Earth! I am telling you!!
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: bernard69