Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Breakfast was a short affair, entailing porridge with brown sugar. Simple, yet filling. We had to fill up 2 trucks with our group, Ori, the cook, our backpacks, and the food. It made for an uncomfortable 3 hour drive. By the end of it I was gritting my teeth in pain and frustration. When I arose from my temporary prison, I had a golf ball sized lump protruding from my spine.
Ori's family's farm is surrounded by their fields and a river (which is below a cliff), which forms a peninsula around the three buildings that make up the property. Two small huts are for sleeping, while the other larger building is a living area, kitchen, and dining room combined. There is a pathway that leads to the river (because the river is about 50 feet below the farm), but due to the dismal weather, we weren't able to climb down until we built stairs.
The stairs were crude in structure. We cut through the ground to form the basis of the steps. Then we picked out planks of wood from their firewood pile, in order to reinforce each step. The railings were a bit harder. Large logs were lodged into the ground, as smaller logs were nailed into the large ones. It took the best part of the afternoon to finish the job, but we were pleased signing turnout. The steps weren't only built for our uses, but for Ori's family to use as well. Half the village had turned up to watch our efforts and cheered us on as we finished the job. Afterwards, we were able to swim in the river for a well deserved cool-down.
Staren and I were made a couple Fijian friends while we were swimming around and they asked us to join them in their game of water rugby. At first, I was hesitant. Every male Fijian is well built and tough, but they seemed nice enough and it was also being played in water. So we started the game, playing, at first, with just a large empty coke bottle. As the game progressed, however, more Fijians and guys from our group joined. It soon became a fun, yet ruthless battle for points. I wasn't injured, luckily, but I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time my team had one. The other team jeered at us as we came off the field, ready for a long nap.
I, however, didn't have the luxury to take a nap. I have to write down everything from today because we have a busy night tonight. I'm glad I brought my phone to blog. I doubt it would have been good to lug around my computer in the highlands. As I have guessed, there is no wifi here. I apologize, but I won't be able to post a few days until I get back to town. Thanks for the patience everyone.
We arrived an hour later and dragged our feet out to meet the sand (most of us had slept during the ride). Until that time I hadn't noticed that the day was marred by grey clouds. However, it didn't rain once when we were there. We put our belongings down on the sand, but not before brian had ran straight into the water, tossing his towel and shirt carelessly on the sand. Not 10 seconds later did most of our group race after him. The water was bath temperature, with a stench of sulfur palpable throughout the shoreline. We jumped over the waves and played frisbee with Erik and Oni.
30 minutes later, muddy brown horses and foals came striding across the beach, ridden by local Fijians. They stopped directly in front us. "You can ride them if you wish." Ori, in answer to our questioning looks. Excited, we all jumped out of the water. The riders dismounted and handed us the reigns. With help from the owners, we mounted them and were instructed on how to ride. I have ridden before, but it was good to have a refresher course. They started us at a walk, but 5 minutes later we had all broken into a gallop. They horses weren't magnificent, they were obviously bred for labor, not speed. The foals ran alongside us as well. We only had about 20 minutes on the horses until we were back on the bus off to the sand dunes.
I was slightly perplexed as to what the wonders of the sand dunes of Fiji were, but I was excited to hike them either way. We arrived at the tourist center, where there was plenty of history information about Fiji as well as many artifacts pertaining to the dunes. Our guide, Tommy, was a nice enough guy with built legs and a prominent face. While he led us through the wilderness towards the dune, he explained to us the history of the Fijian people. His expression turned from grave to proud and back again during his explanation. When we came to our first dune, after 20 minutes of hiking, we were allowed to race up it and spring back down with enormous leaps. It was good fun, but tiring. Before long many of us were drenched in sweat from the heat and the running. We came to the beach soon after. It was beautiful spot, with white sand and pale blue water (even though it was still overcast). We cooled off with a quick swim, but we couldn't linger because they had warned us of shark attacks in this area. We set off on our hike again, going through the forest and back to the base. We arrived covered in sand and mud, moaning with hunger. We said our farewells to the guide, then pressed on into the town of Nadi.
We only had about 2 hours in town, most of which was spent looking for a place to eat. The group spent the rest of the time exploring the town and buying various souvenirs, while I had to go to the Internet Cafe to post February 20 on the blog.
At 3pm we left the town and went back to base to freshen up. We all showered and were delighted to see that the water pressure had finally been turned up to a usable level. We had no plans for the rest of the day. So we spent our time in the pool, playing billiards and petting the base's dog Boe. There are several kids on the base as well, who are the sons and daughters of the staff. Some are Fijian and some are of Indian decent. Native Fijians and Indians make up about half of the population each, in Nadi. We played with them for a while until we were told that we must prepare for another Fijian ceremony, which wouldn't be complete without cava. I have already put on my sarong and am writing at this moment because I doubt if I'll be able to write after some more cava. I'm starting to really enjoy the experiences that I'm having here, most of which involve the culture of Fiji. I do miss the developed country of New Zealand, but this is a different realm of fun and learning that I could get used to.