We finally arrived in Fiji to thaw out from NZ in the hot weather again! A free bus arrived to take us to our hostel, and en route we befriended Dutch Will, who was travelling on his own. Our resort “Smugglers Cove” is a collection of hostels with restaurants set along Wailoaloa (black sand) beach, where we spent the afternoon lying in a beachfront hammock surrounded by palm trees, complete with coconuts. The staff there are lovely, and quickly taught us about “Fiji Time”, which basically means that everything happens at an incredibly relaxed pace or so relaxed that nothing happens at all. Perfect.
Fiji Time must have rubbed off on the residents too, as we spent hours chatting to a guy from the other Birmingham, Alabama, about American Football. We spent a day with Dutch Will, where we got the “fully air con” (i.e. no windows) bus into Nadi town, which is a bit like Little India, and had food in a takeaway that cost £1.15! Some locals invited us to a Kava drinking ceremony (nothing like Cava, unfortunately; it tastes like dirty dish water). Then we took some sea kayaks out of Smugglers, which I of course got tipped out of by the world’s tiniest wave. Peb and Dutch Will played the longest game of volleyball ever, while I enjoyed Fiji Time, i.e. lying in a hammock doing nothing.
We also befriended Cody from Michigan, who joined our band of merry men, and we spent a day all lying in hammocks. I of course got tipped out of that too when Peb got out and landed face-first in the sand. We saw a woman do a forward roll and a handstand on her paddleboard in the sea, so we gave her a round of applause. We also took in a local stray dog who we nicknamed Flop, as that’s what he spent most of the time doing. We had dinner on the decking by the beach, and Peb spotted steak on the specials board. He asked for it rare and was met with a blank look from the waiter, who then went to ask the chef and came back to explain that it couldn’t be done rare. Peb was extremely confused, until his fish steak turned up.
Based on a tip from the NZers, we got a bus across the island to the Coral Coast and got off at a random posh resort, where we wandered in like we were supposed to be there. It worked a treat, and we spent the day enjoying their private beach and sun loungers, snorkelling in the reef, where we saw Starfish, and feeding little fish, one of whom bit me! On the way back, we jumped in to a minibus that was decorated like an Indian restaurant, and had as many people in it as one. The driver was a maniac who blasted loud music (Ed Sheeran overlaid with an out-of-time reggae track, horrible), chatted on his phone, drove on the wrong side of the road, then stopped abruptly to cram in as many people as he could.
The next day, we got the bus to the city, Lautoka. We were packed in like sardines and were forced to listen to more loud reggae. One guy got on the bus with his fire extinguisher. Lautoka is a hot, dusty place, and even more like India than Nadi is. Our primary reason for going there was to go to the post office to send a box of presents and souvenirs back home, including my bottle of wine from the Barossa. We packed the entire box to be told they can’t send liquids, so we irately gave up and went back to Nadi. Our unfortunate timing meant the bus home was the school run bus, and as there are no designated bus stops in Fiji, we had the pleasure of stopping at every individual child’s house on the drive back, even if they were neighbours. Then the driver then drove the bus down the beach, as you do. The evening was much improved by a delicious Fijian Lovo feast cooked in hot rocks in the floor (to much interest of the local mongoose), while listening to a local band called the Kavaholics.