Friday, December 12, 2014

Fiji - Thursday 27th November - Day five

Missed a couple of days, been doing other Fiji...continued.....

When we go on this kind of holiday we don't generally like to plan activities or trips, we're happy to just chill for a couple of days then if we feel like it maybe have a look at what there is to see and do. I don't think I could go on holiday with someone who has to fill every moment of their day whilst they are there, that would really drive me nuts. Today started as any other day, buffet brekkie and then a stroll along the pier to the little island where Wicked Walu is.
We caught the end of the kids club feeding the fish, such a wonderful array of colours, shapes and sizes. It's snorkeller's dream, but I might have said that already. We meandered around the restaurant and took in the views, looking back to the resort it really does cove a huge area. One of the activities staff was feeding stale bread to the fish and asked if we would like some...ooh yeah....big kids haha. Then we had a downpour of rain and took shelter in the restaurant, it had sandy floors and one side is completely open so you can enjoy sunset views. I won't tell you much more of the place as we booked to eat here on Sunday. We chatted for a while and when the rain eased we headed back along the pier just in time to hear someone calling out announcing a woodcarving demo. Joe decided he would like to go and watch but three morning of prunes at  breakfast were kicking in! Nuff said!
When Joe got back to the room he told me he had booked us on a wee trip. The demo was really interesting apparently and during the time they were told all about Fiji's woodcarvers etc, the carvers had whittles away at a bit of wood and made a turtle. Once the demo was finished a trip to the woodcarvers village, a school and another village was mentioned, all proceeds go directly to the villagers and the school it was leaving after lunch. And so we went.
We were met at the main entrance and after making our way to the main road there was a local taxi waiting for us, our guide for the day was Tom. Our first stop was at the woodcarvers village, the set up was just the most basic of barns, as we entered we could see to the left side, in the back corner the area where some carving obviously took place, the tools, wood shavings etc were a clue. Set up filling most of the main space were tables filled with assorted carved pieces, ranging in size, technique and subject you couldn't help but appreciate the time and effort that goes into making something like that. These items are all made locally and are sod direct to the public thereby supporting local business, cutting out the middleman and not paying the 3-400% mark up that is charged through a retailer. Our host here was a gentleman who told us that there are some 40+ carvers who belong to a co-op. The products are mainly made of mahogany, they were currently using a big tree outside. Once that is used they go high into the hills and chop down another, they grow abundantly here apparently.
On the other side of the barn a lady was working on a huge woven mat, made from reeds, she was attaching brightly coloured yarn as you can see from the picture below. What you see had taken 3 weeks from sun up to sundown, she works where she sits. She still had much to do before it was finished.

 Even the dogs are on Fiji time.

We opted to buy a mask and arranged to pick up up on our way back, then we were back in the taxi.

A little further along the road we pulled into a local crafts/souvenir shop, had a mosey around, toilet stop and back in the taxi and made our way to the school.

I thought our unsealed road was a bit of a nightmare but this one took the biscuit! Four and a half kilometers of pot holed metal road and all up hill we made our way to the school, many of the local children walk this every day, it takes them one and a half hours, longer if the fruit trees are in season apparently. School starts at 8am and finishes at 3pm. There are villages much further afield and with the money raised from visiting tourists they have built a bunkhouse so that children can board through the week. They are there from Sunday afternoon to Friday, the parents take it in turns to stay with the children and cook for them.

Upon our arrival one of the teachers shouted something in Fijian which ended with ....tourists'. It was actually the last day of term, only the boarders remained, the others having gone home for their summer break of 8 weeks the day before. Joanna was our guide and began to show us around we were also escorted by a large group of pupils who laughed and smiled and ran around, seemingly very excited to see us. The feeling was mutual.
The classes were all packed up but we got a good idea of how things were run when school is in session. Each class housed a year group, they also had a science room, a kindergarten and a  main hall. As we made our way uphill and beyond the classrooms we headed towards a shed, this is the kitchen we were informed. Inside was the 'cook' cooking cassava, which I believe is also known as tapioca, this was widely grown we were told on our drive to the school. This huge pan was place upon large burning logs, a very simple but effective stove top. Next up was the boarding house, divided in two parts, the first the girls dorm with about 16? beds. Wooden beds with a hard board base and a mattress, the girls had some personal effects to make it feel a bit more homely. The boys had bunk beds, Between the dorms were the bathrooms. To be honest here I could have wept seeing their accommodation, then I reminded myself that the Hilton it was not but it was safe and secure and they didn't have to walk miles to and from school everyday. And if their happy smiling faces were anything to go by they weren't at all bothered by it. After a quick look at the dining hall, Joanna told us that the children were now ready to entertain us.
Looking back down at the school buildings from the living quarters

This took place back down in the main hall, as we entered we were asked to sit on 3 chairs, we sat and took in all their beautiful smiling faces looking at us and both Joe and I admitted to each other afterwards that we felt really quite choked up and tearful. The children were introduced and at the start of each song and dance told of it's meaning and significance. It was very entertaining and we loved it, we even got to join in with them and seemed to go on for ages. We were sweating buckets and knackered by the time it stopped. Great fun. Sadly it was time to say goodbye, I decided then that once they were back at school I would send a parcel of goodies from NZ for them. I was assured they would love that.



Back down the road and the next port of call was the village which had traditional Bure (burey) family home, walls are made of woven bamboo and the roofs are thatched with reeds. 

There is an etiquette to follow when invited inside, you must enter only by the front door, the other two side entrances are for family only. You should stoop on entry, remove your shoes and sit crossed legged on the floor, which is covered in woven matting, facing the entrance you came in by. The doors originally would have been half the height, this was so that any enemy entering was in a convenient position to hit on the head before being thrown into the pot, Tom's words not mine, hahah.

Tom then told up more of Fijian culture, of the hardships so many they face with such high unemployment. The stalls we saw all along the road side selling fruit and other goods are ways of earning money. Should anyone fall on really hard times then all they need to do is go to the neighbours and ask for money or food. Help is given with no question because one day the givers may need to ask of help one day. Isn't that how things should be everywhere? Such a simple and yet powerful mantra to live by. Each village has it's own chief but there is no overall King, Fiji is a Commonwealth country and recognises Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. Tom told other stories and funny anecdotes but I think I've written enough today about our trip out.
We had one more stop at the souvenir shop, bought a couple of things for the bar and a photo album. Across the road at one of those road side stalls I mentioned we bought fresh coconut, savoured the juice and ate the creamiest of coconut flesh, perfect.

 Oi've gawt a luvverly bunch of coconuts!

 These guys were selling hot fresh corn

The lovely Tom

I will just end this part saying that it's all too easy to visit another country and yet never experience the true essence of it. We hardly skimmed the surface of course but this trip gave us some insight of how the Fijians live day to day whilst we are sunning ourselves by a pool sipping cocktails. We will go back one day in the hopefully not too distant future, we'll hire a car and explore further a field. One day.....sooon.

That night we dined at Pappagallo, the Italian restaurant, I'll leave you with the photos. I've probably got about two more posts before I can wrap this up then I'll get on to other stuff. Thanks for bearing with me, I hope you're enjoying the read.


 After a long day the bed looked very inviting.

1 comment:

  1. You have had some fabulous experiences that will last a life time.


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