Travels to Fiji went smoothly – for the most part. Karel used his iPhone to snap a photo of me settling in for the trans-Pacific leg of our air journey, but somehow misplaced the cellphone before we landed. It may be that the airline has found it already, but we immediately traveled beyond the world of free and abundant internet access, so we don’t know.
The good news is that we were both able to sleep a little during the 11-hour flight, so we were in better shape than the walking dead. Our journey continued with a tour company bus ride from the airport in Nadi (pronounced nan’dee) to the harbor at Denerau. We and the other four bus riders had plenty of time to catch our boat, so the driver attempted to kill some time by pointing out the highlights along the way. Unfortunately, the air was so saturated with moisture that water condensed all over the outside of the air-conditioned bus, so we couldn’t see a thing. So we toddled along, leaving puddles in our wake, while our driver excitedly cried “Look, look, my friends, there goes a fruit bat” and “Oh, my families, those are the flame trees, very beautiful.”
The bus driver was very enthusiastic—gushing, even—about his native land. To hear him tell it, Fiji is ecotopia. “Oh, my friends,” he exclaimed, it’s a multicultural society with three common languages (English, which is the official language, Fijian, and Hindustan) and several major religions. As proof, he proudly pointed out a mosque sitting across from a church. Fiji grows much of its own food, which is mostly organic. The surrounding ocean waters are, he claimed, some of the cleanest in the world, and he exhorted us to eat all the seafood we wanted, without fear. He described a highly communal culture as we drove through a neighborhood at the outskirts of town, where there are no fences, food and resources are shared, and events and holidays are celebrated by the entire village like one big family.
“Oh, my families, you will love it here.” Our ambassador/driver certainly exemplified the legendary Fijian friendliness (especially since they gave up cannibalism) and this spirit of sharing. When he was loading our luggage, he noticed some nuts I’d brought along as a snack, so I gave him a handful. He tried a sample, then hand-fed the rest to the other passengers.
We aren’t spending enough time in Fiji to get more than the most superficial understanding of what life is like here, but the culture of the resort seems to reinforce what the bus driver claimed. We’re on a tiny island in the middle of an archipelago flung out from the main island, about a two-hour boat ride from the harbor. The workers are almost all from a village on the island (except for the dive master, a woman from Australia. We have to get her story before we go). The island is ringed by coral reefs; the resulting lagoon is a national marine reserve and they have rules like, no snorkeling at low tide, when you’re more likely to accidentally brush against the delicate corals. After just one day here, we’ve been invited to join the “band” that entertains the guests every evening, and some of the staff are calling us Auntie Denise and Uncle Karel (and no, we aren’t the oldest people here). They work long hours, but at a leisurely pace. They import drinking water, food, and fuel, which is technically not sustainable, but it allows them to preserve the beauty, peace, and quiet of their country and also seems to support the bones of the indigenous culture.This entry was posted in Honeymoon 2013