Saturday 12th September 2015
More shopping to do today, so we hopped on the yellow bus again and headed back into Nadi – this time to the municipal market for fresh fruit and veg. The trip into town takes twice as long as the return trip, because after stopping at Port Denarau the bus does the rounds of the resorts before leaving Denarau Island. It is not an island in the sense that the Yasawas or Lau or any other island group in Fiji are islands though – Denarau Island is man-made, built on reclaimed mangrove mudflats, and is separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of muddy river. The only beach has dark-grey sand and murky water unsuitable for snorkelling. If you plan on staying at a resort, best make sure it’s got a decent pool! What the island does have in abundance, are manicured lawns and flower beds and an immaculately groomed 18-hole golf course with bunkers in the shapes of sea creatures.
We passed through this on the way to town, and the contrast between the two could not be starker, even given that Nadi itself is not typical of other Fijian towns. Holidaymakers at the resorts are provided with a free ‘bula bus’, complete with thatched roof, if they care to venture from their resorts, to take them to Port Denarau. This is basically one huge shopping mall and restaurant area, built for the tourists. One wonders how many of them catch the yellow bus into town to get a taste, however small, of something approaching the real Fiji?
As this was likely to be our last shopping trip in Fiji, we decided we would do a bit of souvenir shopping for the kids and grandchildren – bula shirts and sarongs. We got a few more things from the supermarket – we need to make sure we are self-sufficient when we are in Vanuatu as the islands we will be visiting are still recovering from Cyclone Pam and are unlikely to have fresh produce available. Then we visited the municipal market and stocked up on fruit and veg, making sure we picked out some of the least ripe items to wrap and save.
By this time we needed a coffee, so we popped into a nearby cafe which was buzzing with locals and found the one free table. Whilst Steve went up to place our order, I sorted out the bags, and managed to get it all into four – one for each hand. We would be able to manage the bus back and save ourselves another taxi fare. Coffee arrived shortly after, and I have never enjoyed an instant coffee as much as I did that one – boy was I gasping! Then the food arrived, and we had huge plates of battered fish fillets and real chips with buttered rolls, and all for less than £3.
Nadi municipal market, typical of Fijian markets. The cafe we stopped at for lunch was very popular and busy.
After that it was just as well we only had a short walk to get to the bus station, and as luck would have it a bus was just pulling out and the very kind driver stopped for us to get on. It was one of the smaller buses so we squeezed with difficulty into the seats with our shopping spilling out into the gangway. Not a soul was bothered by it in the least, all stepping carefully around it on their way past.
Back in Denarau we collected the gas bottle from the marina office, loaded up the dinghy and set off back to the boat. Once today’s shopping is put away, we will be pretty much ready to head off to Saweni Bay, where we will meet up with Rod and Mary to wait for a weather window to leave Fiji. But not before we go ashore again this evening to watch the fire-walking show.